I have this love-hate relationship with fasting. I love the after-effects but really struggle through denying myself food in order for God to do something incredible within me!
As a church, for the past few years, we have started the year off with a traditional 21 day fast. This year however, I believe that God is calling for us to fast for 10 days!
Why you may be asking? Well, towards the end of last year in my devotional reading through the book of Daniel, God highlighted to me the change that Daniel and his friends made in order to bring about something new. Daniel and his three friends were taken captive by the super power of the day. They were selected to be trained in all the wisdom of the day and the new world that they had been taken into. The problem was though that they were to eat food that had been offered to idols and that came from the kings table. To them, their faith in God would not allow them to eat such food. So Daniel asked the chief official if they could just eat vegetables and drink water. Here is how Daniel records the chief official’s response:
“Now God had given the chief of staff both respect and affection for Daniel. But he responded, ‘I am afraid of my lord the king, who has ordered that you eat this food and wine. If you become pale and thin compared to the other youths your age, I am afraid the king will have me beheaded.’”
“Daniel spoke with the attendant who had been appointed by the chief of staff to look after Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. ‘Please test us for ten days on a diet of vegetables and water,’ Daniel said. ‘At the end of the ten days, see how we look compared to the other young men who are eating the king’s food. Then make your decision in light of what you see.’ The attendant agreed to Daniel’s suggestion and tested them for ten days.
At the end of the ten days, Daniel and his three friends looked healthier and better nourished than the young men who had been eating the food assigned by the king.”
When Jesus was asked about fasting, He replied with a parable. (A parable is a natural story with a spiritual meaning) The parable was about the wisdom of not using a new piece of cloth to patch an old garment and then Jesus reinforced the principle with another analogy. He said: “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the new wine would burst the wineskins, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine must be stored in new wineskins.” Luke 5:37-38
We fast to renew ourselves to contain the new “wine” that God wants to pour out into our lives. He has given us abundance but God in His amazing generosity, wants to pour out more of His precious Holy Spirit into us, so that we can give more to those far from Him. If we don’t renew the “container”, Jesus is saying, it will burst when the new life is poured in.
2014 was a great year of increase and abundance in Urban Life. Just in our average attendance, we increased by 30% across the family of churches. Thirty percent is amazing!! God wants to give so much more however, so we respond to His call to fast for renewal!
I am believing for the first ten days of February 2015, to be the beginning of a journey to ten times more of all the above – for everyone in Urban Life.