I’ve got a love/hate relationship with fasting. Who doesn’t? I love the spiritual benefits – an increased sensitivity to the voice of God, a quickened spirit, a soft and mushy heart. The hunger isn’t really an issue, at least not after the first couple days, but the physical weakness I can do without, as well as the brain freezes (2+2= um, let me think about that for a minute), or when your sentences just trail off, unfinished, and blow away on the breeze. I have girlfriends who refuse to get in a car with me behind the wheel after a certain number of days, cause I’m definitely a driving hazard! And certainly for me, body image issues sneak in, and I can easily be drawn into over enjoying the weight loss part of the journey – losing a pound a day makes me want to hop on the scale ad infinitum – c’mon ladies you all know you do it!
I gave up fasting food recently, because it was just making my already eating disordered mind too squirrely. However, God in His kindness, has invited me into another kind of fasting (gee, thanks!) – giving up sleep.
Actually, fasting sleep is an ancient monastic tradition. One of the most famous of the Desert Fathers was called Alexander the Sleepless!
God has been waking me up daily at 2:30 am to pray. Every day. For three weeks now. Without alarm. I thought that maybe my body clock had just adjusted to the new time, and I was waking up out of habit, until daylight savings hit and I woke up, at 2:30 on the dot, daylight savings time!
For me fasting is about being dis-mantled and re-mantled. Being dis-mantled means embracing weakness – laying down our natural capacities, giving up you’re A game, so that we can get out of the way of the resources that are being released from heaven. Because, quite honestly, it is easy to run a moderately successful ministry by virtue of your own charisma, strength and soul power alone. Hopefully the prospect of that frightens you as much as it frightens me.
When I’m fasting (sleep or otherwise), I know that my brilliant, encouraging word is not really a word from me at all, cause frankly right now I can’t even spell my own name! (thank God for spellcheck). It’s all God, cause I’m a mess.
Elijah’s School of the Prophets weren’t looking for “soul power” in Elisha. They weren’t looking to his natural ability as a leader. What they wanted to see was that when Elijah (now Elisha’s) mantle hit the water, that the power of God was demonstrated. “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” was their cry.
May God’s power be demonstrated in the midst of our weakness, and may we have the courage to lay down our natural capacities to position us to receive His supernatural ones!
Sleep is over-rated, anyways (yawn!)