heart of fasting

The Heart of Fasting

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Author: Nicole Wood

At the beginning of a new year, many of us make a list of our new year’s resolutions and consider our plans and goals for the coming year. It is a time of reflecting as well as looking forward in anticipation of our hopes and dreams for the year ahead.

As we enter a period of prayer and fasting this week, we prepare our hearts for that which God has in store for us for the year and for what His plans and purposes are for us.

Proverbs 19:21 (NIV)

‘Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.’

 A time of fasting and focusing on God is the perfect time to align our new year’s resolutions with that which God has in mind for us. Just as the writer in Proverbs points out, we might have all these plans and ideas, yet of what use are they if not within the Lord’s purpose? Well-intentioned resolutions are prone to failure if they are based on accomplishments measured by what we can achieve in and of ourselves, apart from Him.

There was a time in my early twenties when I was so far removed from God and His plan for my life. My mind was set on living my own way and on my own terms, even though I grew up in the church and accepted Jesus at an early age. Having a personal relationship with Jesus was just not a priority for me at that stage. A series of events occurred though, one of them a health scare, which led me to re-evaluate my life. During this time, the first thing that God spoke to me about was my pride.

Only when my selfish pride was out of the way, could the Holy Spirit do His work in me. And it’s still an ongoing process and even a battle every single day.

David says in Psalm 35:13 (AMP) ‘But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth (mourning garment); I humbled my soul with fasting…’

I love how this verse clearly points to the attitude of David’s heart when he fasted – he humbled his soul. There was no place for prideful arrogance or self-centeredness. Even his clothing - the sackcloth that he wore - represented his inward state of being.

Often we read in the Old Testament how fasting was accompanied with wearing sackcloth and ashes on one’s head – a sign of mourning and repentance and an expression of humility. While it’s not always practical for us to go about wearing sackcloth, it could be beneficial to keep this picture in mind when we evaluate the attitude of our hearts during this time of fasting.

Fasting itself is an exercise in humility. We deny our flesh that which it craves and, instead, choose to redirect our focus to God and place Him first. We put aside our physical needs, even though it causes discomfort, and look to God to fill the void with that which He has planned for us. The humility of our hearts pleases God and will cause Him to lift us up in due time (1 Peter 5:6).

The book of Daniel is also a beautiful example of what God can do with and through a person with a humble heart.

Daniel 10:12 (NIV)

‘Since the day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.’

As this year lies ahead of me and the blank pages of 2018 have yet to be filled, l endeavour to focus on the fact that only God’s purposes prevail, despite all the plans that I might have. I would like to seek His face in humility with fasting and prayer. God promises to guide the humble and teach them His way (Psalm 25:9), He crowns the humble with victory (Psalm 149:4), and He says its wages are riches and honour and life (Proverbs 22:4).

May we see these promises manifest in our lives this year as we come before Him in humility. May we hand over our plans for the year to Him and in doing so, trust Him to hear our words and come in response to them, just like He did for Daniel.

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