Four days last week I went without all food and drank only water, completing my first ever Daniel Fast. It was the first time I’ve fasted as a means for practicing a spiritual discipline first and physical health benefits second. I thought it was going to be a revolutionary fast and that I would feel closer to the Lord than ever before. But I was wrong.
My fast began Tuesday after an early dinner and concluded with an early dinner on Saturday. Every waking hour for the four days I set an alarm reminding me to pray. The four things I prayed for were:
- My upcoming marriage
- Two friends with health needs
- My heath and purification
- Guidance on God’s purpose and direction for my life
Every hour I would pause and say a brief prayer regarding these needs and many times launch into a very long meditation.
I’ve written before about the power of the Holy Spirit and the how God is always with me, but that I am not always with Him. So I thought that during this fast I could create a lot of room to grow in my relationship with Jesus. I thought that I would feel extra close to Him, but for some reason this didn’t happen.
I tried everything I could including prayer, reading my Bible, taking long walks and sitting by the water, laying barefoot in the grass, doing hollotropic breath work …everything I could think of to hear His voice and feel His hand. And it was practically radio silent.
Late Friday evening while trying to fall asleep I went into a prayer and lamented. I said, “God, isn’t this pleasing to you? Where are you?”
I immediately felt God’s presence and a streak of faint light in my closed eyes. This reassured, strengthened, and reminded me of why I was fasting in the first place.
I was fasting as a sacrifice to the Lord. To show my gratitude for all of the things he has blessed me with and how I am so very blessed I can choose to not eat! How many people around the world don’t have this choice? I shouldn’t have been expecting a pat on the back. I had somehow made this fast about me and felt very guilty about it.
“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others 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 6:16-18
This was the hardest fast I have ever done. Not because it was the longest, but because my goals were much different than the others before it and I felt very challenged. Next time I fast I need to do a better job of not making it about me. My initial goals were pure with this fast, but somehow it became a lot about me and I am disappointed. I am writing this down here to hold myself accountable on my next fast to find a way to get out of my comfort zone and make the fast much bigger than myself. Maybe I can spend some time volunteering during the fast instead of hiding in my house? I’ll figure it out and share it here.