What I’m Learning About Prayer and Fasting

I touched on prayer and fasting last week, just enough to say I wanted to share what I’ve been learning on the subject and was surprised that some of you wanted to hear what I was learning about that. I’m excited to share, but I’d also love to hear your thoughts, so I set up a little survey over there on the sidebar. When the survey ends I’ll post the results and am thinking about doing a series on the subject… we’ll see.

Okay, so now on to what I’m learning.

You may or may not know that I’m in an unequally yoked marriage, one that God has reconciled, shows me much favor and grace in through my husband, and one in which I have little to nothing to complain about, so when I speak of my husband in this post in regards to prayer and fasting, I just want you to know… I’m a blessed woman. Nevertheless, I am an unequally yoked woman and our loving Father has good reason for warning us not to yoke ourselves together with unbelievers… He knows the lack of fellowship, loneliness and consequences we’ll experience, and He doesn’t want us to get tangled up and lukewarm. But that’s another post, so I digress.

One day, after church services, one of the sweet, leading “older” ladies at my church (one of only 2 or 3 who know my marriage situation and pray with and for me faithfully, as well as encourage me with their fellowship) said, “Hey Sheila, would you like to pray and fast for this upcoming Christmas Eve service since your husband is planning to attend?” Honestly, I was taken back. I thought to myself, “Of course you should do that Sheila!!! Why didn’t you think of that? Why haven’t you been doing that?” So I confessed that I had kinda gotten, well, numb, to praying when it comes to my marriage. At times I’m fervent, and at times I’m forgetfull, but in general, after 15 years, I’ve grown dull to it. I despised that revelation in myself at that moment and grabbed on to my sister’s suggestion to fast and pray eagerly. So we set a date and that was that.

When the day came I was surrounded. And I remembered times past when I’ve set out to pray and fast and recognized the pattern. I realized that there’s probably nothing else I do in my walk with Christ that is more opposed by the enemy than prayer and fasting. Mentally, physically, emotionally… spiritually, I felt like one of those starving children in Africa you see pictures of. I realized, that this was a spiritual muscle so to speak, and I was starving and neglecting to excercise it, and had for so long that each time I tried I fell limp, surrounded by accusations, doubts, fears, lies, etc.

So I clung to a scripture my sister in the Lord had emailed me as she joined me that day, along with a LIFESAVING writing (in my opinion) by Amy Charmichael (which is in the back of her book The Edges of His Ways– thanks Gina 🙂 on the subject of prayer and fasting. And much like an atrophied muscle which can barely tolerate lifting itself, much less lifting added weight, I collapsed in the arms of my Lord that day in utter dependence upon His love and mercy. I heard His quiet instruction, “I don’t desire you to deprive yourself of food Sheila… that’s not why I call you to fast and pray. I desire to strengthen your spiritual muscles. It’s much like why I call you to give of your income to Me. Is it because I need or want your money? No. It’s because I want to make you a giver.”

It was the begining of a spiritual “rehab”, so to speak, of my atrophied prayer and fasting muscles.

Since that day, I’ve set aside one day a week for the exercise of prayer and fasting. I didn’t really know why God calls us to do this. I didn’t really understand its significance. I still don’t fully realize or understand those things. I also don’t fast in maybe a way that others would, and am throwing off that accusation which the enemy hits me with right off the bat. So far I’ve just put aside one meal, or just snacks, or just computer time, etc. Maybe as I grow stronger in this that’ll change, I don’t know. But I’m just going to continue by faith because I want to grow strong in that which my Father is strengthening me in.

The days that I’ve had this “workout” with the Lord, I’ve been so blessed!

These scriptures are what I’m “lifting” right now in prayer during these times, especially praying about my role in the lives of my husband and loved ones:

Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh? Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will Say, ‘Here I am.’ “If you take away the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. Those from among you Shall build the old waste places; You shall raise up the foundations
of many generations; And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In
.” Isaiah 58:6-12

Say to all the people of the land, and to the priests: ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months during those seventy years, did you really fast for Me–for Me? When you eat and when you drink, do you not eat and drink for yourselves? Should you not have obeyed the words which the Lord proclaimed through the former prophets when Jerusalem and the cities around it were inhabited and prosperous, and the South* and the Lowland were inhabited?’ “Then the word of the Lord came to Zechariah, saying, “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Execute true justice, Show mercy and compassion Everyone to his brother. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, The alien or the poor. Let none of you plan evil in his heart Against his brother.‘ – Zechariah 7:5-10

But last week, was especially special! It was past “lifting” a weak spiritual muscle and on to intimacy in the secret place with God! Here’s the verse that the Lord drew me to, and though it is one I’ve read and heard many times, this time, it was the call of the Lover of my soul to get away with Him:

But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. Matthew 6:17-18

Appear to be fasting to your Father who is in the secret place. Aaaah! An invitation to meet with the Father in the secret place through prayer and fasting!

It never struck me like it did last week. And don’t get me wrong. I didn’t get away to a mountain top or off to a tropical island for my secret place meeting with the Father.

I was in my closet ironing (our ironing board is in our closet), and then on the floor talking to the One I can’t see. I was in my backyard with open journal and Bible while my boys played war games with their nerf guns on the trampoline.

It wasn’t a “perfect” setting. But it was perfect!

He hooked me. Maybe He knew that I don’t go to the gym with much motivation physically, much less spiritually, and that if He was gonna strengthen me in this spiritual discipline He was going to have to give me a taste of something worth “working out” for.

He did.

NOTHING. I MEAN NOTHING compares to meeting the Creator of the Universe who calls Himself my Father in “the secret place” of prayer and fasting. By His grace I’ll keep coming back. Who knows what He’ll do.

If you care to join me… Thursdays are my “secret place” days if you know what I mean 🙂

I’d love for you to email me and let me know your joining me. We can hold each other up in this.

My email is AWomanFound (at) gmail (dot) com.

Redeeming the time

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