Fasting: Part 1
I want to share a little about my initial exposure to fasting before I begin to describe the events God used to lead me to my recent long-term fast. In this first post I will share how I was exposed to fasting early on all the way up to my first two ministry positions.
Knowing Christ is equally about the destination and the journey. God has used my journey to impact me in so many ways. And one of those ways is to implement fasting as one of the Christian disciplines that I practice. This discipline has been all but lost in the lives of Christians today. I’m praying you’ll be blessed and encouraged.
A few years after I came to Christ, I began watching Dr. Ronnie Floyd through his television ministry. He is the Senior Pastor of Cross Church (formerly First Baptist) in Springdale, Arkansas. On one particular broadcast, Dr. Floyd shared with his church family about a 40-day fast he had completed and how God had worked in his life. God worked through this sermon to bring his church to a point of repentance and renewal. I was so moved by what I heard that I called and ordered the sermon on cassette tape and listened to it repeatedly.
During the same time, I became acquainted with the ministry of evangelist and preacher Dr. J. Harold Smith. I ordered several of his sermon tapes and God used Dr. Smith in my life. I learned that he had completed several long-terms fasts throughout his life, some in which he only drank water for as long as 40 days. The churches he pastored in his ministry had exploded in evangelistic growth and spiritual awakening.
Scott North was a fellow seminarian and had been saved in my home church. He came to Southeastern a few years after my arrival. While we were students he completed a 40-day juice fast. He had several “false starts,” but eventually persevered and completed a 40-day fast. You could not ignore his weight loss that occurred during the fast. I probably talked with Scott for several hours after his fast was over about how God had worked in his life during the fast. He sensed spiritual sensitivity and renewal as a result of his fast. I vividly remember him eating lettuce out of a clear baggie as we walked around campus after he came off of his fast in order to prepare his stomach for regular eating. About this time, I borrowed a juicer and attempted to fast but it was a miserable failure.
I began my first pastorate in 2002 at Hope Baptist Church in Conyers, Georgia. During my time at Hope, I stayed in regular contact with Jamie Murphy, a friend from seminary. Jamie had not only been a fellow seminarian, but he was also the Minister of Education and Youth at Green Pines Baptist in Knightdale, North Carolina. Marsha and I were members of Green Pines during most of our time at seminary.
Jamie was concerned with internal issues at Green Pines and decided to fast and pray. He completed a 40-day fast where he drank fruit juices and broth. God moved in the church and some of the issues in the church were resolved. Jamie and I talked a lot about his fast after it was over. I distinctly remember him telling me that he ate two jars of baby food on his first day off of the fast! He understood that he had to slowly prepare his stomach for regular eating. He kept a journal of his thoughts and prayers during his fast.
I tried to fast again about this concern because of my burden over some issues in my church. I decided to fast a week and only drink fruit juices I purchased at the grocery store. I was hungry in a ravenous way. I could do nothing but think about food. I made it approximately 48 hours before I quit and I felt like a failure because of it.
I met Jon Reed as a young Christian. Jon had come to know Christ 18 months after me at Hebron Baptist and we became fast friends. We both had a heart for the Lord and were called to preach about the same time. Jon began to practice fasting on a regular basis and saw God work mightily in his ministry. On one occasion, he fasted for 40 days and drank nothing but fresh fruit juice. He was praying and fasting for an upcoming revival at the church. On the last night of the revival, our former Pastor Larry Wynn preached and 40 people were saved. Many of these were unconverted church members who served in positions of leadership in the church. Fasting had made a major impact on Jon and how he conducted his ministry. I was regularly blessed after spending time with Jon.
Throughout the years, I yearned for spiritual awakening in my life and the churches I served. I longed to include fasting as a regular spiritual discipline in my life. I occasionally thought about fasting when I read about it or heard people mention it in passing. God used all of that in my life to bring me to my most recent fast.