To keep at anything is much harder than starting. A fast, midway through, can feel like looking at a mountaintop from the bottom—an upward battle.
But the benefits of a fast are everlasting. It brings us closer to God, and there's nothing more worthwhile to keep up than our relationship with God. So how do we sustain that fresh-start enthusiasm while fasting? The answer can unexpectedly be found in stumbling blocks, having a clear view of them at least. By steering away from these pitfalls, we can form habits that will help us hold fast:
On its face, pride may seem like a good thing. After all, isn't there a sense of pride in the country? Or pride for a job well-done? Those are good. But when pride becomes excessive that's when it changes its color. That kind of pride makes thinking of self-driven success seem okay, but it is not.Pride can creep into our fasting when we start to think of ourselves as the sustaining force in our lives. Yet, that thinking positions us against God.Cure pride with a dose of humility. Lean into the fact that fasting is not about becoming holier-than-thou. Instead, it is a tool pushing us to recognize we are in desperate need of God.See how fragile we can become during a fast? We get to depend on God more and let go of the delusion of self-sufficiency.In a sense, fasting brings us to terms with who we are and who God is. We are dependent. He is sufficient. Removing attention from ourselves transfers the glory of all that makes us proud over to Jesus.
So you've put down one form of entertainment only to pick up another? Or rather than spending more time in the word, you find that you're now into the activities you didn't have time for before.Naturally, when there is a void in our time or attention, something else will quickly try to fill it. Just be sure that it leads to experiencing greater intimacy with God. We don't want our tanks getting filled with the wrong type of fuel. That only shortchanges our experience of God’s sufficiency in our lives. So think ahead by making sure your schedule aligns with your priorities during the fast. Since the point of this spiritual discipline is to draw close to God, mark your calendar with God-appointments. Fill the time with moments of worship, Bible reading, prayer, journaling, nature walks, or anything that helps you encounter him. It will be a spiritual awakening that will keep you fed and filled on what's right.
When fasting, it is pretty much guaranteed you will meet with temptation. The temptation to eat that piece of cake, to check social media, or do whatever you have decided to refrain from.The enemy is in wait for an opportune time to make us stumble. He looks to distract us from God and his calling upon our lives. His tactics can even cause us to question why we are fasting to begin with. Don't even entertain it. Do as Joseph did and run. Run to God.When temptation comes around like a roaring lion, pray. The simple act of submission to God displayed by our prayer moves him to come to our rescue. It's his promise.
So submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.James 4:7
Keep these sustaining tips close to heart throughout your fast and you won't look back:
Jesus was not shy about fasting at all. He modeled it at the start of his ministry. He assumed we'd all do it and fall in line with his instruction. In Matthew 6:16, “when you fast” are the words Jesus uses. Later on, he says of his disciples that "they will fast" because they will need him.Don't we all need him!It's our calling to touch the hem of his garment through fasting. A time to lean in and draw near to the Lord. In the moment of struggle, remember the very reason why you are fasting. It will bring clarity to your communication with God and draw you closer to him.
Fasting without prayer is like a bird without wings, it doesn't fly. We can't say enough about prayer and its ability to take us into God's presence. One reason we pray to God is to communicate where we are weak. In our weakness, we can tell all to our Lord of our Universe. He is uniquely and infinitely able to meet our needs. God delights when we go to him first with our requests. We can go back to him in prayer again and again.
Community is a vital part of our walk and in fasting, as it helps us stay encouraged and accountable. In community, we can uplift each person, strengthen each other’s weaknesses, and guard one another against pitfalls.But there's no community without consistency in meeting up. Get intentional about gathering with fellow believers. We believe in doing life together here at VOUS and so we encourage you to get plugged in and join a VOUS Crew and VOUS Care class. Don't do life alone, together we're better.
Now here's our end. You've made it! Keep up the faith through every moment of your fast, the best is yet to come.