Fasting and praying day-by-day

Day 6 – Our women’s ministry team hosted our last event of the ministry year on Saturday night, which included a clothing exchange, a potluck and a time of worship.  The evening was a success, but I am not here to talk about it, other than these two things:

  • I know I’ve told all of you by internet that I am fasting, but it’s quite another thing to tell people to their face.  I’d decided I wouldn’t, that I’d keep myself busy while the potluck was on and people wouldn’t figure it out.  Except they did figure it out because ours is a loving group of women who care that everyone gets fed, plus seconds.  When one woman insisted that I try the potato salad, I had to tell her why I, the carb-lover, wouldn’t.  With great empathy she told me of a time that he had fasted – an inopportune time, between Christmas and New Years – but that God had honoured that sacrifice.  She looked off in the distance that thanked me for reminding her about that very specific answer to prayer she received, which she didn’t feel necessary to disclose.  When people find out that I’m fasting, they often share their fasting stories which involves growing deeper in their walk with God and answers to prayer. I hope that I will remember this fast years from now and the way that God provides.
  • After the event, when our team was cleaning up and ready to leave, the prayer team carried on, interceding for those who would come to them with their problems and worries.  They were doing their own thing and I was happy to let them do it.  But the prayer team leader came outside to grab me before I left.  “We’d like you to come for prayer.  God laid it on my heart to pray for you with the team.”  While I believe entirely in the power of prayer and the prayer team made up of Godly woman, I will tell you that my first reaction was to put my guard up.  Do I need prayer?  I’m tired, it’s the end of a long day, can’t I just go home?  But they sat me down in the hot seat and eight beautiful ladies opened up to pray for me.  With hands laid on me, they asked aloud for my renewal and strength, direction and peace, wisdom and anticipation for the year ahead.  They prayed for me.  I don’t remember all their words, but their love made a huge impact.  I’ve never known this kind of prayer support before, but from now on I will seek it out.

Day 7 – On Sunday, all three pastors spoke on 1 Corinthians 4:20, a short little verse that packs a punch,  “For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power.”  I’ve been mulling over it after the pastors explained, respectively, the kingdom of God can only be entered through the cross, faith in Jesus Christ; it is an eternal kingdom that starts in now; the power is what happens when we put that faith into action.  I considered how when you dwell in this kingdom, when you claim full citizenship status, the cares of this world, while they still exist, also disappear.

Day 8 – On a mini road trip, I absent-mindedly asked one friend for a couple of the delicious grapes she had brought from home.   It was after 2 p.m.  Things got awkward for a moment when she reluctantly asked if I should.  When I got home, I made sure she was on my Close Friends list on Facebook.

Also, I received this brilliant word, by two-part Twitter feed no less:

Your prayer for your job is not merely that it be stable and prosperous, but that it truly serves the needs of society and that in all your labor and all your relationships your joy in Christ and your love for people would make a name for Jesus. (John Piper)


Fasting – Day Four

Something interesting has happened on Day Four of my fast.  There’s a serenity in my spirit that this was the right thing to do.

Sometimes you can feel like a spiritual flake when you come up with a course of action that involves self-imposed deprivation.  Deprivation usually only happens in crisis.  I’m volunteering myself into crisis.  But there is an urgency to this prayer and I know I’m being heard.  I have no answers, but I have The Calm.  The Calm is as good as any answer will be.

Know what else has happened on Day Four?  Prayer has become a first reaction.  Kids fighting?  Pray.  Grumpy today? Pray.  Love the sunshine?  Pray.  Someone irritating you?  Pray.  Watering the plants? Pray.  Stressed out? Pray. Driving to the corner store? Pray.  Going to a rock concert?  Pray.  Posting on Facebook?  Pray.  I find myself naturally moving into prayer with the Father about absolutely everything.  Be warned: if you call me up right now, I will pray with you.

And then there’s the flip side, the other stuff the enemy tries to sneak in on Day Four.  There are the “rules” of the fast and how I might manipulate them to my advantage.  You see, Satan targets the rules instead of the spirit of the rules.  He loves legalism because he knows it will either make us judgmental toward others who are not doing it our way… or he’ll get to call us a failure when we break them.

First of all, I felt like it might have been a mistake to tell the world about my fast on my blog.  And by “the world,” I mean the five faithful readers, including Mom and Dad… and I’ll find out after this post if they’re faithful.  But I have made this public and have this tension about it, that this should have been a secret between me and God.  That’s because of this verse:

But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matt. 6:17-18)

If you read the verse in context, it reveals the sinful spirit of wanting recognition from other people, not God.  Please know that I am not doing this to receive either sympathy nor to be placed on a spiritual pedestal.  My search may help your search and vice versa.  I’ve already received some encouraging comments from friends and strangers who feel like this lines up with where they’re at.  If we can have some transparency about why and how we fall on our knees before our Father and take our fears and doubts to him, that is a good thing.

I also fall prey to this game of justifying my way through the parameters I’ve set up for myself, which is completely ridiculous. In this case, it’s not enough to say no eating after 2 p.m.  What about my conduct the whole day before 2 p.m. and what about in the evening after supper’s been served?  I’ve found ways to bend the rules I set for myself which – I KNOW! – makes no sense.

For example, I eat more than I normally would before 2 p.m.  Breakfast and lunch have second servings and snacks in between.  This feasting and depriving each day becomes a roller-coaster ride.   Snack therapy never will be effective and the cost of it must be comparable to a real counsellor (and it’s a good thing J-M said no to the book expense at this point).  Plus, I have no scientific evidence to back this up, but I believe it makes me hungrier at night.  Expand and contract, expand, contract.  It’s the best work out I’ve had in a while, with little results.

Also, last night, when J-M made a yummy dinner, I ask him to save me some for lunch for the today, of which I had two helpings.  I’m not kidding.

There’s this other thing.  When I’m too hungry, I want to make it go away by going to bed early.  This becomes the grey area of the fast.  These hunger pangs, are they not to trigger me to prayer?  This rumbling stomach, does it not to reveal my great need for God?  Is 6 p.m. not a reasonable time to hit the hay?

I believe much of this minutiae gets sorted out simply by keeping on.  There’s something about getting in the groove of it, which will, of its own accord, figure out what is working (or not) and maintain the goal of walking closely with God.

In the meantime, I embrace The Calm.

Thoughts on fasting for the second whole day in a row

Because I’m underemployed, my husband has me on a strict budget.  No extras. No incidentals. No spending without express permission from him, and only under certain categories.  Other certain categories have been removed from the budget altogether, like magazines and clothing accessories.  How horrible is that?  I thought SURELY, because I’m fasting remember, the decrease in actual spending in the grocery category alone would allow me to purchase this very inspiring book, which would go far in helping me on my journey to find gainful employment and/or fruitful ministry.

You see the progression of my logic, right?

Well, he doesn’t.

Good thing RSS Feeds are FREE!  Check out the blog of Mary Jo Sharp at Confident Christianity, a Christian Apologetics ministry that addresses the hard questions of Christianity through research, writing, training, and debate. (I do find some irony in the fact that I can’t convince my husband to buy me a book that will teach me how to debate.)  I’m inspired by this woman who is using her brain in powerful ways.

Unemployed – Day Two

I’ve written too many Day One entries whether on a blog or in a journal, full of enthusiasm and optimism for specialized goals I’ve conjured up for myself, only to find that on Day Two the spirit wanes and the resolve weakens. I remember writing about homeschooling the girls in Ghana on Day One.  Something along the lines of, “Look how organized I am!  Look how well-behaved my kids are!  Look how much we’re getting done!”  You can only imagine what Days Two – 500 looked like.

In order to avoid the Day Two denial stage, I’ve added an accountability option – to tell you about it.

So, to explain, despite the title, this is not Day Two of my being unemployed (I think we’re on Day 92. I’m not even technically unemployed.), nor is it Day Two of a job search in earnest.  Ah heck, why didn’t I just name this post, “Loreli – Day 14,023”?

Because. This is Day Two of a 40-day self-prescribed fast/quest to hear from God about where he is leading me, as far as my employment situation is concerned.   Right now I would technically call myself “underemployed.”  I wish to be fully employed, as in certain and disciplined about how I occupy my time each day, hopefully resulting in a pay cheque in my bank account. Although that is not my primary motivation; that’s my husband’s.

During these 40 days, I intend to spend a lot of time clearing out the detritus of my heart in order to hear God more clearly.  I feel like my head is fuzzy, full of stuff I want to do, can do, must do! Plans! Ideas! What ifs!  But there’s no clarity of vision.

I’ve been feeling a little lost since making the final decision to sell my business.  My reasons were valid – not burn-out, not loss of interest in the business, but an understanding that God was pulling me deeper into ministry.  I feel this call, it’s just undefined at the moment.  When something you feel so deeply is undefined, you get a little restless.  I believe that if you were to rev the engine in your car, plus your car had no wheels, it might feel something like this.

I find myself in this no man’s land of wanting to work, but not willing to compromise.  That’s a dangerous place.  I honestly worry that I might do something stupid in my eagerness to get a move on.  I’m already a ministry hog, leading women’s ministry, doing communications for our missions project, managing social media for a few different organizations, plus the assemblage of duties one acquires as a “Pastor’s Wife.” Plus, hello, I blog.  Besides this personal one, I write a weekly blog for our denomination, which gives me technical “employed” status.

Here’s the thing: if I am excited about what you’re doing and I can get involved, I most definitely will.  The dangerous part is that I overbook and overwork myself and miss out on what’s important: listening to God’s voice, spending time with my family, making meaningful connections, and Sabbath.

In her book, 7, Jen Hatmaker talks about fasting.  I agree with her findings.

According to scripture, fasting was commanded or initiated during one of six extreme circumstances:

  • Mourning
  • Inquiry
  • Repentance
  • Preparation
  • Crisis
  • Worship

I believe my circumstances fit into the category of Inquiry – which we Canadians spell enquiry, so I’ll make that small change – which involves me asking God a lot of “What about…?” questions.  More so, this is about Preparation. I believe God is preparing me for… something.  That’s all I’ve got for now.  But I know from experience that at the end of a period of uncertainty or crisis, we can usually  look back and say, “So that’s what this was all about!”

Fasting increases my reliance on and desire for God. My physical hunger alerts me to my spiritual hunger.

I just want to home in on what God has in the works.  I want to be a part of his plan, not the other way around.

Just so you don’t worry that this is a hunger strike,I will only be skipping supper.  I won’t eat after 2 p.m.  As provider for our family and cooker of our meals, my husband is so annoyed by this.  I did this for Lent and he felt like he was forced to fast too, from my company, because it was just him and the girls at the dinner table each night.  So I’ve made some changes, that I will still sit with the family and engage in conversation as we usually do – and it can’t be about my wishing I could eat.  I will have one day a week where I will eat supper (which will be Fridays).

I feel it has to be a supper thing because that’s where the hunger hits the hardest.  I want to eat the most then.  There’s the proviso that the family feels this is an imposition on them, I will change my fast to suit their needs.  Next option is giving up Diet Coke, so I’m really hoping this supper thing works out.

These 40 days are about hearing from God.

Just today, I had a few interesting nudges.  Check this out.

We should take the stigma out of being unemployed so that people won’t have to say they have a blog.
-Andy Borowitz

OK, I just found that incredibly funny in a nervous laughter kind of way, since I do tell people I blog when they ask me what I do, which they always ask.  And I always hope they don’t think I’m as delusional as I might actually be.

For real though. I struggle like most people with where I find my worth.  Blogging falls short.  So this was timely:

So you want first place? Then take the last place. Be the servant of all.
Jesus (Mark 9:35)

I don’t even hardly know what that means, but I want to. I think it’s a Best Kept Secret about fulfillment and purpose.

If you’re a fellow believer on this path that we travel, seeking God’s will, I would love you to walk with me.  I’d sure appreciate your prayers if you feel so inclined.  I intend to write about the experience.  Writing helps me process my thoughts.  Writing keeps me accountable. Writing will help me work through Days Two – 40.