Our church is having a voluntary day of prayer and fasting. We began with a prayer meeting that was available in person and remote (I chose to attend remotely so that I could be in front of the fire in my living room with my pajamas on) and will close with a prayer meeting at 6:30 pm.
I have not done this for a long time, and I felt intimidated at the prospect of fasting for a day. Of course, I had to fast prior to my surgery in September. But that was different. I was laying in a hospital bed with every conceivable need cared for, except for food. Today, I’m trying to live more or less a normal day, but with times of prayer instead of meals.
This morning was surprisingly easy. We had our corporate prayer time, and then I engaged in my normal prayer routine. Afterward, I went to the gym to do my rehab (I’m still rehabbing the knee I had surgery on in September). Other than feeling a little light-headed on some of the exercises, it was fine.
Now that’s it’s after lunch, it’s a little harder. It’s tempting to say, “it’s only five-and-a-half hours until I can eat.” It’s not like I’m going to break down and have a snack or anything. But I am experiencing a feeling of deprivation. What do I do with this?
Well, first of all, many people all over the world, perhaps the majority of the world’s population, is not able to have adequate nutrition. So, this is a normal feeling for most of the people in the world. Many of these people are my brothers and sisters in Christ. So, it’s good for the soul to be able to participate, even for a short while, in their deprivation for them, and to pray that the Lord would give them this day their daily bread. This is something that I can meditate on and be more intentional in my prayers. I often pray for the spiritual concerns of the church around the world, and for the persecuted church, but how often do I pray for my brothers and sisters the simple request that they will have enough to eat?
Another benefit is that this slight momentary deprivation reminds me of the poverty of my spirit, and is hopefully developing a hunger for God. I long to treasure his words more than my necessary food, as Job did. My hope is that I can devote time to prayer, or a least some more time today, rather than just devoting it to work. Lord, help me to do so.
A final benefit is that this is another opportunity to pray in solidarity with others. In most churches, the Wednesday night prayer meeting is a thing of the past. For our church, I don’t think it’s a lack of desire, but it’s because we are a “destination church” rather than a parish church. People in Houston typically have long commutes, and often, this includes church. It may be worthwhile to consider having get-togethers for prayer in neighborhood homes, even occasionally or “one-time” events. We do have Bible studies, which I enjoy. But it may be worth exploring inviting people to pray together, and making it easier to do so.
So, this invitation from our elders to participate in this day of prayer and fasting is opening my eyes to some things I haven’t thought too much about, and is stretching me, and I hope it will do so for others.