“The Lord opened her heart to pay attention…” Acts 16:14
Fasting for spiritual reasons, or for any other reason for that matter, has rarely been a discipline that I have employed over the years in my journey as a Christian. As a younger woman, like donating blood, it was simply something my body would not tolerate due to my health and my body weight. Now as a woman who has recently found herself in a grandmotherly way, neither of these concerns currently applies, and I have found myself being called to times of prayer and fasting.
As a parent, the dreams and desires, the hopes and the hurts, the trying and the tears of each of my children all find a place in my heart. When they rejoice, I rejoice with them. When their heart aches, mine aches as well, and like my Father before me, I find myself wanting to do anything I can to reach into their situation and make life sweet and beautiful again.
Armed with the clarity of understanding that not only does my Father desire what is sweet and beautiful for my children, but that He and He alone knows the perfect pattern of loveliness for each of them, I have found myself choosing to take my concerns to Him, trusting Him for the outcome. When my children were young, it was often easy to simply “fix” their problems; fights could be broken up, issues at school could be remedied, and broken toys could be replaced, and sometimes I found myself carrying a torch that would have been better left unlit. As they grew into pre-teens, teens, and ultimately adults I came to the realization that I simply could not be the fixer of their problems, and often even of my own problems, but rather must become a source of encouragement, support and love as they learned to choose their own paths. With this knowledge came the freedom to truly love with the depths of my heart, while releasing my children to choose for themselves the future that each would pursue. Still the love of a parent does not dim, and my desires for them have found a home in the daily discipline of loving words, constant prayer, and a willingness to seek my Father on their behalf through setting aside a meal or two.
Like prayer, fasting is a discipline that opens our hearts to hear. When I bring myself before my Father with the confident understanding that He loves both me and those that I am praying for I can entrust my concerns to Him, and know that ultimately He will not only hear me, but most assuredly answer. As I seek him boldly and believingly to bring freedom into to the lives of those I bring before him, to change the hearts of those in authority over situations, I can trust that I am seeking only that which He as well truly desires. As I lay aside a moment and a meal, I can also be assured that in the process I change, and my prayers change, and as I lay each of my hopes and hurts before him, I find that my heart becomes utterly tied up in him, that I desire his plan and his plan alone, and that ultimately, the mystery of His ways will become that pattern of loveliness that I seek in my life, and for the lives of those that I so dearly love.
Your ways are mysterious and yet so wonderful. Use me at your will, change me as you desire, and make me the woman you have called me to be. I entrust to you all of my deepest desires and those I so dearly love. Knowing that you and you alone have come to set the captives free and bring to pass the beauty of your plan even as I bow at your knee. Open my heart to hear.
Utterly tied up in You,