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Saturday, 7 February 2015

What I Learnt Fast(ing)

This last week we just undertook a weeklong prayer and fasting as a church. I'll confess I don't normally participate in group fasts - I rarely fast as a habit - because I don't like the idea of doing anything just because the crowd is. Yet this year I felt God prompting me to fast and above all I want to follow his guiding (it's worked well so far in my life). So this is a blog post to share in relation to that.

What God taught me during the time of prayer and fasting was to challenge what it is that I have prioritized in my life before. It has been something that people close to me have been talking to me about before but God clarified this concept and made it more apparent to me. I honestly never realised in such a way how much time I allow social media to consume until I realised that I found myself reaching for Facebook, only to not be able to access it with an easy tap on the app thanks to shutting it down for the fast. I would love instead for my reaction to be to turn to the Bible and see what God has to say rather than scrolling aimlessly through what my friends have to say about the world. Not that friends aren't important - it's just not as important as I have made it before.

But another thing that God taught me in the past two weeks is not to take things in life for granted. It can be easy to slip into a mode of doing that but this week I had an important conversation that challenged me on what I take for granted. On the Australia Day weekend before this I had a very important reminder about not to take things for granted in terms of the potential for that to hurt the person I probably care most about.

Today I walked through the streets of Melbourne and saw several homeless or more down on their luck individuals. I was stopped in front of one guy and he must have asked for money but I was ignoring him so it was then that he swore at me and angrily asked me to move from where I was standing. This got me thinking in connection to taking things in life for granted. Many people cannot help where they end up in the streets - but what they really need, as evidenced by the attitude of this one guy, is not money but someone to show genuine compassion in the right way. I didn't know the right way to do that at that time and I didn't have some super spiritual moment that pointed it out to me. But maybe next time there will be something that lets me know what to do. Maybe the closer I draw to God the better I will be at being loving in my every action so that even if I can't give money I can give something more important.

Acts 3: 5-7 "5And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. 6But Peter said, "I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene-- walk!" 7And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened.…"

You can't help the hand that life deals you sometimes. Sometimes you will go through challenges. Sometimes you will end up on the streets. But what struck me was that the people I saw on the street lying down against the walls, asking people for money were rather devoid of hope. And that is a heart condition more than a physical condition. Fasting taught me that even if I don't have everything in life sorted I need to get my heart attitudes right: to be a God honouring worshiper who worships in spirit and truth. A man whose lips and heart honour God first and foremost with everything else flowing out of that.

Let's be honest, I'm not perfect. I've definitely seen many times recently where I have been too self obsessed and focused on my plans or trying to do everything in my own strength. What I want to say and take away from fasting is that, just like fasting made me weak and made everything tougher to perform, so too I am weak. I need to draw upon God's strength all the more in my day to day life and to walk with his power and integrity.