Fasting is not a pathway to God. You do not need a path to God. He will come to you. You can't get any closer than He is to you right now. He knows your every thought, the number of hairs on your head and the workings of every cell in your body. The reason we are not overwhelmed with the presence of God is that we are not living in obedience. Fasting is a time to cleanse and discipline our hearts before God that we may give to Him what He truly wants the full commitment of our heart.
If you want a guest for dinner you must invite them. If you invite Christ into your life, He will come. Fasting is the preparation for His coming; a dedicated time to cleanse the temple, our body and soul, that His Spirit will dwell with us.
Spiritual emptiness plagues the souls of our modern society. Crafted veneers cover up how we really feel, because, to be honest is to admit we're suffering inside. It is easier to ignore the cry of the heart and suppress it with work, activities, alcohol or sensual pleasure.
Much of what we do is maneuvering around past hurts, fears and low self-worth. On the inside, is a small child, in an adult world, crying out for love using possessions and job titles to prove significance because we don't really believe we are worthy of love just as we are. Entering a relationship desperate for love, pressures the other person with unrealistic needs. What God intended for support and encouragement becomes a war zone.
Spiritual emptiness causes depression, feeling oppressed or out of control and confusion. Thoughts become contaminated with toxic resentment, unforgiveness, self-hate and feelings of failure. Many people need a TV or radio blaring constantly because silence is uncomfortable. Silence can be terrifying to an empty soul. During fasting, the inner silence is profound. Noisy, clamoring emotions become quiet and, for the first time, you hear the voice of your soul.
Why fasting makes such a difference before God is because spiritual fasting is the emptying of self, not just of food, but the mutterings of the inner self that drowns out the quiet voice of God. He will not shout. We must listen.
Most people have toxic thoughts filled with negativity, pride and false expectations, stemming from the pain of childhood. When I first saw the futility of my thinking process, the only conclusion I could come to was that I was totally insane. I would try to think positive thoughts by thinking of love instead of resentment, faithful thoughts instead of worry, which would last about five seconds then I'd start to think how much a failure I was for not being able to control my thoughts.
Living in Colombia, I had the worst drain clog of my life. After a failure with a full container of Devil Drain Cleaner, I hired a professional odrain deplugger. He rammed a coiled wire down the pipe but the sink remained clogged. As a last resort, he put a water hose down the pipe and turned on the water full power. Out spewed a stinky, black and brown sludge. As he wiggled the hose, more and more sludge backwashed onto the floor. The kitchen was turning into a sludge swamp. Then came bigger, slimy chunks. Finally the blockage broke down and let the water pass.
Fasting is like that. It penetrates the blockage in the soul and stirs it up. It stinks and spews out everywhere, then the blockage opens and there is an experience of long-forgotten freedom. I can remember the day that the illusion fell away. I had worked so hard to prove myself worthy of love through achievement. When I realized my purpose was hollow and meaningless, I suffered an emotional breakdown and wept uncontrollably, walking around for days in an emotional vacuum. No longer did I know who I was. On the third day, the breakthrough came. I realized that God truly loves me, and that is enough. The words echoed through my soul in a way I had never felt before. At that moment, the sun broke through a hazy sky, and a white bird soared on an updraft. I soared with that bird. Love had set me free.
Fasting stills the mind. In the quietness, we can study our thought process. Worry, unrealistic fear, false pride, obsessive negativity and self-defeating thinking can be seen as thought sequences connected to triggers. During fasting, toxins released into the blood affect emotions and thinking. They cause feelings of weakness, discouragement and a loss of faith. Old emotions, memories and hurts stir powerfully. You face the full power of negative, toxic thoughts. At this time, many people give up the fast. For those who hold firm, fasting brings an inner-awareness that stills the soul bringing peace. We can take our burdens to Christ in true humility. When the breakthrough comes, there is a joyous awakening and a new freedom.
Cleansing The Conscience
Money, medications, material possessions, achievements, good deeds or perfect living cannot buy a clear conscience. It is easy to make excuses, but if you do not believe your own lie, it will be powerless to sooth your conscience. Guilt can last a lifetime, and the pain does not lessen with age.
When Adam hid in the bushes, shame was controlling his actions. He could have been walking, laughing, exploring, but there he was in the bushes hiding with a guilty conscience. Where there is shame there is pain, separation and a degraded self-image. We no longer look at ourselves with pride. God becomes distant and we lose passion for living.
Unknowingly, many come to fasting as a fix for a dirty conscience. Honesty is good for the soul. It is time to tell God and those you have hurt that you are sorry. There may be a cost, but no matter how expensive the cost, the joy will be more than worth it. Repentance is the pathway to peace. You do not have to apologize a thousand times. Once is enough and the sin is forgotten. The blood of Christ and the power of God forgiveness are greater than any sin. Christ willingly died on the Cross for your every sin. When you finally believe in the forgiveness of God, you can start to forgive yourself. When you forgive yourself, it is easier to forgive others.
The ones you love the most cause the greatest pain when they do you wrong. There are only two ways to deal with the pain: resentment and becoming hard or drawing close to God and deepened compassion through humility, acceptance and understanding.
Cleansing Unhealthy Values
When life wanes into the hollow darkness of death, it will not be the victories, trophies or empires we built that will fill our thoughts but the last embrace of the ones we love. One last tear-filled moment to share. When that day comes, each of us will have regrets. The working mother wishing she had spent more time with her daughter. The alcoholic who looks back on wasted years. When you stand before Christ and the events of your life are reviewed, what will you see? Will you be watching a shallow, self-centered person striving for self-gain or the painful sacrifices of a humble servant? As I write this, tears come to my eyes for I look at my own heart. I see how much less I am than what He wants me to be, how often I turn away and chase worldly desires.
It is easy to rationalize sin and self-centeredness because everyone does it. Yet, each of us knows right and wrong. You want what is right, and that is the reason you are reading this book. You are following an earnest hunger for a deeper connection with God and are willing to fast, willing to change, willing to sacrifice, humbled and hungry for more. With this attitude, fasting will be a catalyst to deep change.
To get practical, make a list of what is important, why it is important and what you are doing to reach it. During your fast, spend time studying each entry of importance. Lay it out before God, pray and wait. If you get stuck putting a value on a project, possession or achievement, consider the Apostle Paul value system. After one meeting with Christ on a dusty road, His most important values were slashed to zero, tossed in life dumpster and the only thing considered valuable and beyond price was knowing Jesus. When you mark the price tags of your life, look a little closer. The stuff thought of as most valuable may be junk before Christ. You do not have to have regrets at the end of your life.
You Are Called To Fast
When I mention the benefits of fasting to Christians, I often hear the statement, I have not been called to fast and when I am, I will fast. They talk as if fasting is like going on a mission to a jungle. In reality, every Christian is called to discipline, prayer and fasting. If you are truly serious about your walk with Christ, you will fast. For a Christian, fasting needs to be like brushing the teeth, just something you do to maintain your spiritual life. No big deal, just a regular part of living.
The course of our lives is steered by the decisions we make. Your decision to fast is a sign that you are willing and ready to undergo a complete reconstruction of who you are, letting the Holy Spirit into all the little, dark cubbyholes of your life and getting sincere with your calling. God will honor that. More than anything, God wants our willingness. He is a gentleman and will not barge in. He wants to be invited. Your decision to fast is an invitation.
If you still fear fasting, keep reading. After a few fasts, first-time fasters will see you as a veteran and you will become their guide. It is just a matter of time.
Spiritual House Cleaning
When I was younger, I studied the writings of Confucius, The Tibetan Book of The Dead, Buddhism, Astrology, Tarot and every interesting and weird philosophy I could find. Playing bass for a heavy metal band called Black Mass, I became morosely depressed and entered a state of continual torment. Strange things started to happen. Lamps flickered when I entered a room. The guitarist and I almost died. We passed out from a drug overdose and the band practice hall, which was in a barn, caught fire. We were on a farm in the middle of nowhere, but someone entered, dragged our barely-conscious bodies from the fire and put it out. I saw his feet through the smoke. Then he vanished. I did not care; I was becoming suicidal, and life no longer mattered. The next day, at the same time and without talking to each other, two friends visited me with the same message that I was possessed and had to go to a certain church. I flopped into the seat of the truck, and the electrical system died. They prayed and the truck started. I walked into the church, and the pastor kept looking at me and appeared unable to concentrate. I just sat there in some weird trance. Suddenly, he ended the service, and asked everyone to leave, but I was asked to stay. When the pastor spoke to me, I got dizzy and ran to the bathroom with extreme vomiting and diarrhea. When I finally left the bathroom, there were 20 people in a circle and one chair in the middle that I knew was for me. Now, I am free from bondage and living with the protection of Christ. I will never forget the dangers of the spirit realm.
The Bible states that there is a war between light and darkness; that Satan is alive and active on planet Earth and to be aware of his schemes. To get right with God, you have to repent of all the cult stuff in your life. If you have old Black Sabbath albums, crystal balls used for sances, Ouija boards, tarot cards or cult books, you need to destroy them. Remove anything in your house that is an insult to God. If you are reading this chapter because you want the best from God, remember that He is a jealous God and will have no other idols before Him.
Finding Your Purpose
Before you start fasting, take some time to think about why you are fasting. Jesus did not fast to lose weight. He was to be stripped naked, and hung bleeding on a Cross. His purpose in fasting was for the strength to complete His ministry. Healing, better health, weight loss and clearer thinking are worthy goals but what is the purpose of your life? The Bible says that each of us is called and God has set out our purpose from the beginning of time. Are you ready to live your purpose?
During the fast, the day-to-day world fades in significance. The world of thought, memory and emotion heighten in intensity. Connection with God clarifies. The foolishness of modern living becomes repulsive. Questions of who am I and where am I going, demand answers. Fasting is the accelerator of the process. It demands you to live for a higher purpose and that will cause you to become different from the people around you. Fasting unplugs you from the Matrix. You will never be normal again.