Debbie Salter Goodwin
Doing Without to Have More
What activities and habits prevent you from hearing God? The best way to address this is with the spiritual practice of fasting.
Too often we think that if we prove our desperation, God will take pity on us and give us what we want. But that’s backwards. Fasting demands that we put our wants aside to want one thing: more of God. More of His wisdom. More of His Truth. More of His Spirit living in us.
When Jesus fasted, he feasted with his Father. He grew his appetite for His Father’s plan and methods. His Father’s greatest joys and deepest griefs became his. While the beginning of a fast may make you more sensitive to what you are doing without, eventually your focus is less on without and more on with. The end of a fast demonstrates that God has more of you and you have more of God.
While fasting is between you and God, it doesn’t have to be so secret there is no accountability. The emphasis on secret is to stress the opposite of showy behavior that Jesus called hypocrisy. Everyone knew when the Pharisees fasted because they were dramatic about it. From their clothing to their facial expressions, they made a “show” of it. But it’s what’s in the heart that matters, and their hearts were not tuned to God.
Fasting reveals the addictions that take you away from God’s resources. In the Mark Bible study I'm presently facilitating, Lisa Harper made this statement: "Addictions are ultimately a disorder of worship." (Mark: The Jesus We're Aching For, p. 83) We don't like to think that our over-indulgences affect our worship. However, when we put anything in the center of our lives other than God, we skew our worship.
Fasting clears your heart of these disordered priorities and appetites. Fasting makes you more receptive to God’s resources. Few people leave a fasting encounter saying, “I’ can handle my life by myself."
True fasting returns something you had given up without knowing it. You will have more of something: time, peace, relationship, awareness of God. To be a spiritual practice, you need a spiritual growth result.
Do you remember what happened to Jesus after his fast? The angels came. It was God’s reward. God knows how to make His presence known to you in a way you need Him the most. Do without something you don't "need" and let God surprise you with more of Him..
For a beginner's list for fasting, click here for a word document. or click her for a pdf document.
If you haven't received your free devotional guide for Lent, you can get it here: Following Jesus to the Cross.