I am forever changed by grief, but grief is not the full measure of my life in Christ. “GLEANINGS from Claudia — The Abiding Life” posts explore this life attached to the One True Vine.
“But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting , but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:17-18
On Monday of this week Steve, the staff of Suburban and many other men and women in ministry in the Willamette Valley headed off to Canon Beach for four days of prayer. I saw an opportunity in Steve’s absence to try a more complete fast than I’ve experienced in the past. From Monday morning until Wednesday at noon I drank only clear liquids. At noon on Wednesday I had a lunch appointment that I made prior to my decision to fast so I had a light lunch that day and then fasted again until lunch on Thursday.
I fasted into the teaching that I’ve been called to do for a Women’s Retreat the third weekend of April. I’ve been a Bible study teacher for many years and I’ve taught a single session at various times in the past, but I’ve never had the responsibility to craft a retreat and speak at all sessions. I’ve never formulated teaching for a group of women that I don’t even know. I have a deep trust in the Holy Spirit as the true teacher in every lesson planned and taught so my fast was really about hearing the voice of the Lord in regard to what HE wants to teach at this retreat.
The fast was amazing. I received and received the messages flowing into me and onto the page. I have a complete picture of the retreat now with details still coming. My week had challenges in it – several in fact – but my overall sense of the week is one of great peace. I loved the experience of freedom that came upon the heels of not worrying about what to cook, not taking the time to prepare food items, not having to spend the time required to complete clean up tasks. Those tasks are blessings of God’s provision in my life and I am truly thankful for each meal He gives us. But letting this all go for a few meals brought focus and joy.
In scripture a complete fast means taking water only for a period of time. For the culture that practiced this type of scriptural fast, food procurement and preparation required immense amounts of time and energy. In today’s world it may be even more effective to fast from sensory bombardment such as music players, social media, television, computer use and other electronic inputs. Today a sensory fast experienced in tandem with a food fast gives sacred space and time within which to hear the voice of God.
One of the things that came out of the Prayer Summit for Steve and the other leaders waiting on the Lord at Canon Beach is a sense that God is calling us to more seasons of prayer with fasting. I’m eager to hear those calls to fast and pray and excited to see what God will do through His people waiting on Him in fasting.
“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.” Acts 13:2-3