Hungry For More
By Ann Armstrong
Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.” Mark 2: 19, 20
“The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegrooms voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.” John 4:29, 30
Several years ago I was introduced to the Bridegroom fast at IHOP Kansas City. The idea behind such a fast is that we, Jesus followers and friends, abstain out of longing for Him. We choose to go without food and other ways of satiating ourselves, allowing the ensuing hunger to become an entryway into His presence and prayer. As John the Baptist says so beautifully, he becomes greater in our lives as our desires and needs take second place.
“First, let fasting be done unto the Lord with our eye singly fixed on Him. Let our intention herein be this and this alone, to glorify our Father which is in heaven.” John Wesley
Fasting rooted in and rising out of desire for Him makes sense and holds greater appeal to me. Having such a clear focus helps me to both check my motivation and stay focused on the “goal” during the fast. I remember my choice to abstain stems from my greater desire for Him and His kingdom coming here on earth. This helps when I grow hungry or distracted and feel like giving up.
In the space and hunger created through fasting, we turn and feed on Him, the bread of life. We spend time listening and praying to God. We ask Him to give us His heart and mind, the very prayers Jesus is praying now in heaven, Heb 7:25, words we can speak and offer back to Him.
Begin to ask the Lord how He would have you fast, and to reveal your reasons for doing so. David’s prayer may help: ‘Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.” Ps. 51:10, 12
Ask what He would have you give up, and also how He wants you to spend the time you now have. Prayer and time before Him and reading scripture will be an important, central part of your fast. He may also want you to reach out to those in need as well through different acts of service.
See if there are others you can meet with to pray-He truly is in the midst of two to three who gather in His name. Here at Desert Stream we will meet to pray Monday-Friday at 3 pm CST.
In his book Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster points out that Jesus first statement on fasting addresses motive, “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.” Matt 6:16
Lord may our motivation be you and your Kingdom; may we choose time in prayer and with you as our reward.
“Fasting reminds us that we care about “soul” things. We care about the church. We care about the world. We care about doing God’s will. Thus we willingly set aside a little comfort so we can listen and attend to the voice and nourishment of God alone. For God can give us grace and comfort and nurture we cannot get on our own.” Adele Ahlberg Calhoun
“Fasting makes me vulnerable and reminds me of my frailty. It reminds me to remember that if I am not fed I will die…Standing before God hungry, I suddenly know who I am. I am one who is poor, called to be rich in a way that the world does not understand. I am one who is empty, called to be filled with the fullness of God. I am one who is hungry, called to taste all the goodness that can be mine in Christ.” Macrina Wiederkehr
Next week I will share some practical guidelines to help you prepare and consider different ways to fast.
Daily updates will be posted at: andrewcomiskey.com/mercy