This is an extremely tough post to write not only because I do not want to come across as prideful, but this is also a very personal topic for me as I would attribute the most significant factor of personal growth in the last ten years is to this one discipline. In sharing my personal experiences, I hope to encourage others to see the spiritual importance of fasting.
Ten years ago I was on staff of Campus Crusade for Christ at the University of Florida. The campus director at that time, Aaron Read, had became a legend at that time because he did a 40-day fast for the campus ministry. Seriously, just about every staff in our region would tell us this when they found out where we were reporting. When we reported to campus, the rumors were proved true, and we could see the blessings that came from Aaron’s fast.
A little personal note about me… I have this desire to not let anyone love Jesus more than me, but forty days… yikes!
After my first semester on the campus, all of the Crusade staff gathered for the bi-annual staff conference. While there Dr. Bill Bright spoke about his commitment to 40-day fasts for revival and the staff celebrated others who had done them. Also at the conference I talked with a staff couple that joined with my wife and me who had also done a 40-day fast.
God used all of these experiences to push me over the edge and commit to one.
To be perfectly honest, this fast was really a discipline of perseverance. Every day I was amazed I made it that far without eating. Previously my longest fast was 2 days; now I was trying for 40. The hunger pains were strongest on day 3 and 7, but after that it was more that I wanted the taste of food than I was extremely hungry. My body got weaker, but I was able to continue playing sports in the hot Gainesville sun; I just needed water close by at all times.
Dr. Bright had written help on the practical aspects of fasting like what to intake and what to expect. I also had Aaron on staff with me to share what I was experiencing. When it was over, the main thing I remember thinking was that it was interesting. I felt I had some good prayer times, but nothing miraculous.
However, the fast was like a setting a time bomb in my life. Three months after the fast I felt the impact, and it was probably some time afterwards before I made the connection. God radically changed my outlook on ministry, marriage, life, and Him. The impact was so great that six months after finishing the first one, my wife joined me in my second one.
In the past ten years I have now done eight 40-day fasts. I’m a believer in the spiritual importance of fasting. Through these fasts I have done things that I would have never considered or would have been brave enough to do even if I did. I have:
- Been awarded the opportunity to Crusade’s year-long training for emerging leaders
- Spent a year overseas in the Middle East
- Saved my marriage
- Willingly left Campus Crusade
- I had thought we would retire there
- I gave up on our choice placement
- We left without having a backup plan
- Joined staff of a church
- Left full-time ministry to get an MBA
- Found the current perfect job for me
- Deepened my relationship with Christ beyond I ever imagined possible
Therefore, what have I learned from fasting?
- The discipline by itself is effective.
- Other disciplines of prayer, Bible study, become more effective.
- It takes faith, which we know it is impossible to please God without.
- Since it takes a lot of faith, it leaves a greater reward.
- It gives confidence in God’s direction.
- It humbles you.
- It grows your relationship and trust in God.
- The enemy will attack you – press in to God more.
- It will change your life and of those around you.
- It sets a bomb off the heavenlies that will show up somewhere on earth.
If you have done a 40-day fast, please write a comment of your experiences. To God be the glory.