This Holy Week our college ministry will start every morning off at 7 AM for prayer on campus. Each day has a different theme; today was "dying to live." The spiritual discipline to coincide with the theme was fasting.
There's nothing that will awaken the soul like going without food. I shared with our students a couple insights I ripped off from mi amigo Ed.
1. We all have broken "wanters". We all want, the problem is that we want the lesser thing. Fasting re-calibrates our souls to want the greater thing- God.
"Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God."
"Taste and see that the Lord is good."
2. A caution in fasting: Beware of the Shamu Principle, which goes like this: "God, I did my trick (i.e. fasting), now you give me a fish (i.e. tell me who to marry, what house to buy, give me that job, take away that cancer, give me that answered prayer)." In fasting, God is never the means to anything other than- God. Or worse, as the illustration might go, God is the whale who does his trick, and fasting is our way of throwing him a fish to reward him. The thought of turning God into a powerful trained beast who does our bidding for a reward is a horrifying one. Either way, fasting must not be seen as benefitting God, but us. And it's not that we shouldn't fast because we desperately need God's help for something specific, but we utter all day long in our hour of need "May your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven..."
Today as I was praying with Mike Easton over the noon hour, I had a cool vision. It was actually a memory, but was triggered with crystal clear detail as Mike was quoting Psalm 71, "18 Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation..."
I remembered the last time I prayed with my Grandpa Bill. He was laying on the floor with cancer. He would come in and out of sleep, sometimes praying with moans of agreement, while other times snoring. But what I remember so vividly (as a 17 year old), was his gray hair. Here was an old man who was going harder after Jesus than when he first started the race.
I desperately want to finish strong. Lord willing, I will get to "old and gray." The best I can tell, I think it was a vision of what my life ought to look like.
I realize if I'm going to be going harder after Christ as an 80 year old, I've got to keep running harder tomorrow.
I'll see you at 7:00.