Anne and I chatted over fasting and finding Him in a guest home we shared for a brief stint while Nate and I were on a personal retreat and she was traveling for work. I didn’t know then about this group of women that had emerged from Anne and a few others who were finding Him while pressing pause on their flesh’s cravings.
For her, it’s real. She found new layers of Him when circumstances didn’t shake out as she expected. Read …and be compelled!
And for those of you looking to connect your story-line of waiting to His greater message, check out the blog on which Anne contributes: fast.pray.
(For the month of May and a week into June, I will be pressing pause on my online writing and this space will become a series of testimonies of what He births in the midst of delay, perplexity and pain. Author friends from around the world, who love words on a page and Him even more, will share, here, how they have seen Him make the bitter, sweet.)
I always wanted to get married. My prolonged singleness was my “bitter” – even though as someone in my late 30’s I hadn’t been single as long as so many people I know. That’s the context for my post … the pain I felt as year after year went by with no change. The obvious “sweet” of my story is marriage to a wonderful man and a precious three-month-old baby girl, but that’s not all the story. I count the way God met me through fasting as much a part of his unexpectedly sweet gift as well.
About five years ago, yet another relationship I’d had with a guy who couldn’t commit ended. My friend Connally had meanwhile had her own string of disappearing men, as had her friends, and my friends, and so many other single women we knew. The relational struggles we were experiencing seemed to be part of a much larger cultural problem.
Prayer alone just didn’t seem to be cutting it. Connally felt led to start fasting, and she asked me to join her. We wanted to be married, we wanted God to show us where we needed to change, and we wanted God to help the men we knew to be real men, able to pursue a woman and commit to marriage. We decided to start fasting at lunchtime on Mondays, and we invited four friends to join us.
Every Sunday one of us would send out a reminder with a thought or Scripture passage to focus our prayers as we fasted. We told other friends what we were doing, and many of them joined in; then they told their friends, who told their friends – and the list grew from six of us to 50, then 100, then 300. Eventually we transformed our weekly email to a blog which, as of last count, has 711 subscribers. If you’re interested in joining, we’re still at it (Fast. Pray.)!
After about six months of fasting, I decided to bump up from a lunchtime fast to a full day, not eating after Sunday dinner until I broke my fast with Tuesday breakfast. My initial motive was simple – I really wanted to get married, and I thought that fasting for a longer period would mean a greater likelihood that God would answer my prayers.
But what happened surprised me.
The harder I fasted, the longer I remained date-less, but the more I started encountering God on my fast days. I began to feel his presence more intensely and started to sense promptings from him more often. I had more of a desire simply to worship him, not for what he could give but for who he is. Fasting became kind of like taking a spiritual vitamin. I found myself going face down on my bedroom carpet on Monday evenings, listening to worship music (ihop.org/prayerroom) simply relaxing in God’s presence.
There were times when I broke my fast – once it was a burger that did me in when my roommate was grilling out. Often I ate way too much on Tuesdays. And I struggled with crankiness and fatigue, which is par for the course for me with fasting. But the sweetness I tasted – a fresh intimacy with God – far outweighed the struggles.
God also began showing me more clearly areas in which I needed to change. He took blinders off my eyes, and I began to see things about myself I’d not been able to see before: Deep-set patterns that needed to be broken. The way I indulged my desire for the perfect fantasy man. My penchant for obsessing. Little by little, God gave me grace to change.
God meets us when we fast. I’ve found that the more intensely I fast, the more intensely he draws near, whether or not he seems to be answering my specific prayers. And yet I have seen him answer long-standing prayers. He did give me a husband. And many other women who have joined in the Monday prayer and fasting have gotten married.
Still, there are many who have prayed longer and fasted harder than me who are still single. So I don’t offer my story as bitter-to-sweet example for how to get a husband. (Wouldn’t it be great if there were such a fool-proof formula?!?) But what I do offer is a recommendation for fasting. If you’ve ever thought about fasting, I’d encourage you to go ahead and try it. If you already fast, try bumping it up a notch in intensity. God will bless your efforts – and I hope you’ll find he’ll give you more of himself.