In this episode, Scott discusses the paradoxical relationship between Joy & Pain.
The third Tuesday of every month, I have a minister’s meeting where all the ministers in the area get together for some fellowship. As I was getting in my car to go to this meeting, it occurred to me that there is always a meal provided. Would there be anything that I can eat? I get to the meeting and they have a lot of great looking food. Broccoli and Cheddar Soup (Can’t eat), Salad (can eat, but with caution), garlic bread (can’t eat), cookies (Can’t eat) Cheesecake (can’t eat), and cheesecake toppings (can eat the strawberries and blueberries as they are not in a sugary syrup like the cherries).
So I get a salad and a side of fruit. During the salad, I had to combat the chunks of chicken, cheese shavings, and croutons, while I ate the lettuce, cucumbers, onions, and olives. After the meal, the topic to discuss was, “what spiritual disciplines are you participating in?” The hosting pastor knew about my fast and asked me to share my experiences. I talked about everything that I mentioned on Day 8 of my fast. Other pastors talked about vision planning, prayer journaling, and even sitting in silence. As I listen to each pastor share what discipline they are practicing I thought, “Can these other disciplines be heightened during a fast? My goal for this second week is to try a spiritual discipline and see how it goes.
4:00 am. My wife wakes me up because she hears beeping downstairs. A few weeks ago, our Carbon Monoxide detector was defective and I replaced it right before Christmas. My wife thought that the beeping was another defective unit, but in fact, it was warning us that the furnace was producing CO. So I shut off the heat (luckily we were having warmer weather in VA), moved the kids to our bedroom and I got the last few winks on the couch after I called the furnace repair company to send a worker out.
Since the workers would be coming soon, I went and cleaned up the furnace room a tad bit. One of the items was to empty out the trash can downstairs where there was just a bunch of packaging from junk food. As I was looking at each item, I was beginning to think about all the times I had put junk into my body. As the fast has begun to purge my body of any unhealthy eating habits I have partaken in, I began to search my heart and pray for the Spirit’s guidance to remove any bad habits that have been inhibiting me spiritually. As the spirit continued to search my inmost being, I have seen how my attitude, impulses, and anger has to lead to unhealthy choices on a spiritual, physical, and emotional level. It is through revelation that leads to repentance and through repentance is a renewed sense of self.
5 days in, and I have noticed that I am beginning to be cranky. Sometimes I can be a bit cranky when there are big stressors in my life, but for the most part, I have a level head and pretty patient. Today, I was just getting quickly annoyed with the smallest issues. My prayer is that this does not become the norm during the fast.
One of the most interesting things about doing this fast is that I have had a heighten prayer awareness. Multiple times throughout the day, I would be in prayer. Most of the time, my mind would think about a situation or an individual and automatically, I stop what I am doing and began to pray. Not just a quick prayer, but a focused, precise prayer.
The one thing I was nervous about was my blood donation appointment. With a few days into the fast, I was curious how my body was going to respond the giving blood. Typically, after I give, I usually will leave and drive back without feeling light-headed. But with my fast, I thought it would be best to wait the 15 minutes before I attempt to leave. It was not until some hours after, where just the simplest of the task would make me a bit light headed. I also began to crave sugar. I was beginning to think about sweets, and every sweet item that was in the house was a big temptation. I was glad that I had church responsibilities to divert my mind from being consumed with cotton-candy fantasies.
Beginning in January 2018, my Church has decided to focus on prayer. We are using Mark Batterson’s, “The Circle Maker,” as a guide to start the year off in prayer. As I was preparing this series, I decided to do a Daniel fast at the start of it.
For those of you who do not know what a Daniel fast is, it comes from the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament.
At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over (Daniel 10:2-3 NIV).
The requirements of the fast are that one cannot eat any meat, or any by-product from an animal (ex. eggs, cheese, milk, etc). You can not consume any food with sugar, chemicals, yeast and processed items. The food I can eat is anything that comes from the ground and is not processed. The duration of the fast is 3 weeks (21 days).
Most people do a Daniel fast for its health benefits. You can do a google search for the Daniel fast and most websites are dedicated to diet, detox, and healthy living. But one of the things I rarely see is for prayer.
The purpose of fasting is to amplify one’s prayer life. Daniel, in the midst of Babylonian captivity, used fasting to gain wisdom and insight into a revelation of a Great War (Daniel 10:1). The purpose of my Daniel Fast is not for health benefits but for wisdom, insight, and direction as I lead the church in pastor into the new year.
So far, the fast has been good. I ate a salad without dressing and had a three bean chili for dinner. I’m scared and excited by what will be revealed by the Holy Spirit during the duration of this fast.
Continue to pray for me as I begin this journey in fasting and prayer.