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Friday, January 09, 2009

I Want You To Grow Spiritually 13: Time For Fasting

Fasting is ancient, biblical and has been part of Christian spirituality since the beginning. Traditionally people have fasted from food. However, I suggest you consider not only fasting from food, but from something else that takes of your time or affection. Consider fasting from television, a hobby, entertainment or media. I have often wondered if people would benefit from fasting from church.

Could you fast one meal a week for several months and devote that time to prayer seeking more of God's presence and direction in your life? Perhaps you could fast for one day a month for several months?

Ash Wednesday is on February 25 this year and begins the season of Lent, which last until Easter. Many Christians observe Lent with some sort of fasting -- giving up something for Lent. When I was a kid it was chocolate. Many Roman Catholic friends still give up meat on Fridays during Lent and eat fish. In theory, this is meant to be an act of devotion. Perhaps you could observe Lent this year giving something up: a certain food, a hobby, certain web sites (not mine of course), etc. For a couple years I gave up reading Mac news and rumors during Lent, and believe it or not Macs became less of an idol in my life. Ask God what you could give up for Lent for His honor and glory.

Dr. Elmer Towns is a great student and teacher of revival and fasting. His book, Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough: A Guide to Nine Biblical Fasts, is the very best book I've read on fasting with a good balance of practical advice and biblical/theological background. I found it to be motivational as well, causing me to hunger after God. I highly recommend it. (Elmer also sells a video series with the same content but it's boring.)

Fasting. Try it.

This is part 13 in a 20 part series on spiritual growth. If you feel like you are not growing deeper in your faith or relationship to God, if you are not loving and serving others more, if you have a sense of 'stuckness' in your spiritual journey, and you really want to grow ——— the answer might not be to try harder. All too often I have heard the same solutions offered over and over — 'All you have to do is have daily devotions, pray more, read more of the Bible, be in worship every week and get more involved in the church.' In other words try harder.

Sometimes that doesn't work and I'm going to offer some suggestions that might help you move forward.

Previous Installments:
I Want You To Grow Spiritually 1: Give Up Daily Devotions
I Want You To Grow Spiritually 2: See A Counselor
I Want You To Grow Spiritually 3: Spiritual Direction
I Want You To Grow Spiritually 4: Get A New Church
I Want You To Grow Spiritually 5: Go On Retreat
I Want You To Grow Spiritually 6: Fight A Spiritual Battle & Win
I Want You To Grow Spiritually 7: Take A Seminary or College Class
I Want You To Grow Spiritually 8: Take Communion Weekly
I Want You To Grow Spiritually 10: Observe The Daily Office & Church Year
I Want You To Grow Spiritually 11: Get Tough on Sin
I Want You To Grow Spiritually 12: Start Journaling

Note: Part 9 isn't published yet. I'll get to it eventually.

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