Surprised by Fasting

Surprised by Fasting

On Wednesday everyone involved in the Gathering Church was invited to fast and pray, not eating one meal, two meals, a snack, or whatever would serve as some kind of fast.  Our specific focus was to seek God’s guidance and power on finding Sunday morning worship space.  The United Church in Chapel Hill has been great about allowing us to meet there during the summer, but as the fall begins we will need to make some changes.  We have several space applications under review at the moment and are eager to see how God will guide us.

We concluded the fast by having potluck dinners at several homes in Chapel Hill and Durham, where people shared their experiences and also prayed.  It’s been great getting reports about what people experienced.  The interesting thing is that what we experienced was bigger than the specific request.

Like . . . .

–  A greater sense of our dependence upon God, and with that a greater sense of trust. One physical therapist who had seventeen patients that day said, “I started out kind of perky to myself, like, ‘Look, I’m fasting.  This is neat.’  By the end of the day I was running out of energy and had to step into the bathroom and pray before I took care of my last patients. ‘Lord, I need your strength to serve well.’  It was good to be more dependant upon God.”

–  A really good sense of being connected to others.  “It meant so much knowing that others were doing the same thing.  I felt close to everyone all day.”  One person emailed from his family vacation, knowing about the fast only from our emails, and he connected in his own way.  Part of this connection was inviting everyone to pray, listen, think about where we should meet.  Instead of it being a concern for just a few leaders, it became a concern for everyone.  It made us all part of the team.

–  A greater awareness of God while doing the things we do every day.  It was almost as if fasting let God in on more of our normal life.  Fasting made us ‘attend’ to God more.  And that was great.

–  The dinner and prayer together that night was great, somewhat because we were all coming together after a shared experience.

I suspect that fasting together may become one of our normal habits as a church.  I don’t know how it will be structured yet, but I’m convinced that it is a practice that could transform us.

And, until Jesus returns, we will always have reasons to fast, to seek God’s presence and power as we serve Christ in this world.  We probably don’t fast more as churches because we have accepted too easily the spiritual status quo of a broken world.  We may not be desperate enough for the purposes of Christ.

What’s been your experience with fasting?  In your church?