It’s that time of year again when we start packing things away, discarding things we don’t need and look towards a new beginning with the new year. 2018 will be my fifth year to prepare for an annual fast. I give my first fruits to God for HIS guidance through prayer and fasting. During the month of January I only eat fruit, vegetables, nuts and whole grains, not including wheat. No meats, No sugar, No dairy, No alcohol, No breads, No caffeine. (Yes, I can be a grump the first few days. After that though, things get better.)

I take this time each year, between Christmas and the New Year, to write down in the same journal the things that I am fasting about to God. I do not share what I am fasting about with others.  They are special, detailed things that I desperately need and want God’s attention and direction on. Reading back on my past fastings, it is interesting to see how God has answered things verbatim and how on other things HIS answer has been “no.” Those few things he pulled me away from, my eyes were later opened to their harm and so I give thanks to HIM for doing so. God has always acknowledged my sacrifice and sincerity. HE makes HIS presence known to me during this time in a very REAL way.  I have found that when you start getting more serious about your faith, the enemy WILL ATTACK YOU in various ways. THAT IS A FACT! Just remember, if you are not a threat to the enemy then his minions will leave you alone. Given the arrows I have had to dodge and slander I've had to ignore, I guess I must have made and must be making a positive, spiritual difference in others' lives somehow and somewhere. 

I encourage you to try it, even if it is just for a few days. Yes, the first and last weeks of this month's fast are challenging. However, there are so many benefits from this time. The first and foremost thing is having God’s attention in serious matters. HE does acknowledge fasting. God WILL be with you. You will feel HIM. I also see a great difference in my overall health and appearance. However, this is not a diet nor done for vanity purposes AT ALL! REMEMBER THAT! This is an intimate time between you and God, period, whether you do a fast for a few days, week or month. It is between you and God and no one else.

I did not grow up with fasting as a part of my spiritual life. I was raised Southern Baptist. We all cleared the Sanctuary Hall as soon as service was over to rush to the buffet line before the other churches let out. I first really got to know about the power of fasting in 2012, through Pastor Jentezen Franklin. I read his book on it and out of desperation for intervention I joined in his corporate Daniel Fast in January of 2013.

I have discovered a great deal about myself and about Christ from fasting. Fasting strengthens your self control, not just from food but from sin in general. (Don't get me wrong, I still fall short every single day.)  Fasting will teach you like nothing else how to say “NO” and walk away.  It also makes you more aware of your temptations. There have also been times when my eyes were opened to WHY God HAD to send us a perfect and final sacrifice for our sins. God sent HIS only son, JESUS CHRIST, because we are incapable of living a sinless life. I remember one year when I was on the last week of the fast, I was so proud of myself. One evening I was at another’s house and grabbed a corn chip, thinking I was in the clear.  A friend of mine who knew I was on my fast started reading the ingredients. “Brenda!” She shouted. “This chip has sugar in it!” It was too late. The chip was digesting. I felt so let down in myself. I couldn’t believe it. Then it hit me. That is exactly how sin is in our lives. Look at the 10 Commandments. If we go strictly by the law, no matter our intentions, no matter how hard we try, sin creeps into our lives. That is why Jesus had to come. Did I give up and throw in the towel? NO! I had a talk with God and kept up my fast to the end, making sure to read ALL the ingredients no matter where I found myself.

Fasting is not to be done frivolously. DO NOT PROMISE WHAT YOU CAN NOT SEE THROUGH. Start small. Give up one thing, but make it a true sacrifice, something that makes you choose to walk away from it. (Giving up sardines do not count.) Pray over the things you need God’s attention on every morning, every time you are hungry, every time you are tempted. Remind yourself and GOD why you are doing this. It is a serious matter about serious issues. Play praise music throughout your day for encouragement. It will keep your mind clear and focused on God.

Do know this, there have been times that things SEEMED to get worse after fasting, but later I have seen for myself that God was answering my prayers. God has moved me, physically, spiritually and emotionally. HE purged me from things that were harmful while blessing me with things I never imagined for myself or my son. My spiritual life is so much stronger since I started participating in this yearly fasting and prayer. Fasting has become a part of my spiritual life now. I would appreciate your prayers during my January fast.

2018! The number 18 stands for prosperity and life! Biblically it has stood for the END of oppression. Being Freed! 

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

Here’s to new beginnings!