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Hungering after God

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In July I asked our USMB family to join me in a dedicated 24-hour time of prayer and fasting. We collectively petitioned God to create a powerful movement among us, to use us in a meaningful way in the future. We prayed that we might be found faithful to his truth. Many joined in this time of seeking God and said they had a joyful time of fellowship with God and a sense of peace as they prayed.

It’s been said that fasting should be a “hungering after God.” In other words, it’s giving up food to spend more time with Jesus. It’s hunger for God rather than paying attention to the hunger for food. When you feel those inevitable hunger pangs, they’re just reminders to pray rather than make a sandwich. I like that.

Fasting is a meaningful part of my walk with Jesus. But I don’t do it often enough. Why? Why don’t I fast more often if it brings such peace and connection with the Lord? Why don’t we talk more about fasting in our churches and practice it on a regular basis? What prevents us from experiencing this marvelous discipline more frequently?

I think part of our reticence to fast is simply because we don’t like to go without. I like to be comfortable, and feeling hungry isn’t comfortable. Fasting also doesn’t fit into our regular routine. There’s something about having regular meals that creates contentment. It’s out of the norm to go without food for a day or longer. It’s not all that comfy, and it takes intentionality. But aren’t those the very things that actually make fasting satisfying—being out of the norm and requiring some intentionality?

After our collective time of fasting in early July, one person wrote, “My experience was all about dialogue between me and the Holy Spirit; not a prayer just a conversation throughout the time. The Holy Spirit telling me to ride with him. Thank you, Lord, for the moment.”

As we led up to this corporate time of fasting and prayer, we stressed that fasting is not about forcing God to do something for us. It’s not asking for a list of things we want. It’s spending more time with God to the point where we genuinely hear within our soul what God is saying to us. It can even be about seeking God to use us and to make himself known through us.

It becomes about who God is and not about what we think we need. Fasting can be a corporate endeavor or something we do alone. It’s not to be trumpeted, something we brag about. We simply enjoy the uniqueness of its wonderful effect on us as we encounter Jesus in an extraordinary way.

Another person said this about fasting: “Before the fast I was distracted and burdened with a handful of situations and opportunities, and after the fast I was much more peaceful and trusting of God’s guidance and provision, and also surprisingly encouraged as a result.”

From distracted and burdened to peaceful and encouraged. Hmmm. I think fasting is something quite valuable to do—and often. It might even help change us to be a little more like Jesus.

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