Monday, March 3, 2008

The blessing of the empty plate

Throughout my journey as a follower of Christ, I've read many books on sanctification and spiritual disciplines. All emphasize Bible reading and prayer and most delve into the many practical outpourings of evangelism, service, and sacrifice. But being prone to polishing the outside of the cup, I have the inclination to take what the author recommends and establish legalistic practices of righteousness rather than to joyfully embrace the righteousness of the Lord Himself and act out of thankfulness. I have too often sought spiritual growth by the acquisition and application of knowledge rather than the submission of my spirit to His. These things could help me feel spiritual but in reality brought me no closer to true knowledge of the Holy One.

As you can tell by many of my posts, I am a woman fond of food. Finding just the right recipes to use the deals I snag at the grocery store is and exciting game and I enjoy the planning, the cooking, and the eating of scrumptious meals. I'm much more apt to proclaim a feast than a fast. I've clung to the verses in Colossians about not forbidding food! So when the call to fasting and prayer came from the pulpit this past Sunday, I was originally less than eager. In my mind, fasting has always been more of a painful act of obedience to be endured when dire circumstances arise rather than a discipline intended to draw me closer to the Lord. But as the sermon unfolded, God opened my eyes to see that fasting clears away the static that makes it difficult for me to hear the Lord. It clears away the mini-gods I've set up next to the True and Living God.

"The birthplace of Christian fasting is homesickness for God." ~J. Piper

Five reasons we need to fast:

1. We need to be unsatisfied when things are not right (Neh. 1:4)
2. We need clear guidance from the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:1-4)
3. We need corporate renewal as God's people (Joel 2:12-17)
4. We need the reward of God which is God Himself (Matt. 16:16-18)
5. We need preparation for whatever Satan intends to throw at us (Matt 4, Luke 4)

The Lord is slowly chipping away at my self-reliance and replacing it with humble thankfulness for the finished work of Christ on my behalf. I am not right. I need to find satisfaction in God Himself and fellowship with His people. I need to know God's mission and be ready to face opposition. So with fear and trepidation, and a whole lot of expectation, I will be joining my church family with empty bellies before the Lord once a week for six weeks. I will be asking the Lord to grant me hunger for Him that will never be satisfied this side of heaven.


anika said...

How exciting! I miss you.. I pray this time you have with the Lord is only the beginning of an even more fruitful relationship than you have ever known.
"draw near to God and He will draw near to you..." james 4:8

O to hunger and thirst after righteousness, for the Righteous Ones sake....

Monica said...

Thanks for this post. Such a timely reminder for me and I needed to hear it.

Dan Barnett. said...

Circumstances made me pospone my inernet fast, and I'm glad I read your post. Your five reasons are excellent. :-) You have one sentence that encompasses all.

"I will be asking the Lord to grant me hunger for Him that will never be satisfied this side of heaven."