5 Ways to Maximize the "Next" Fast
I’m writing late Sunday evening…or at least it’s late for me ☺. Sunday is a pretty predictable day for me. Up at 6:30 and sitting in the front row of our church by 7:30 going over my notes while listening to worship sound check. Then preach 3 services, meet, great and catchup with some great people. I leave church at around 1:30 make it to lunch by 2 and home by 3:30. If I don’t have a meeting to prep for that evening, I usually fall asleep around 4 watching some sporting event. And this “nap” is why I am up later on Sunday evenings than I am any other night, and since we don’t eat a real dinner on Sundays I usually snack…except tonight. My stomach doesn’t understand why tonight is different and why I am not giving into its usual demands. It’s the “NEXT” Fast 2017 – that’s why.
To complete a fast, it takes a greater desire to get somewhere you have never been than the desire to consume something you already have. It’s amazing how much power food has over our minds and bodies. God doesn’t demand that we fast to be in relationship with Him. He does however, insist that if we are going to be in relationship with Him He has to be the most important person in our lives. Fasting is a unique spiritual discipline that serves our bodies to notice that its physical needs do not outweigh our soul’s spiritual needs.
Here are five things I suggest you do to maximize this Next Fast.
1. Write down your motivation.
If you don’t know why you are fasting you won’t complete it. Do you feel distant from God? Is there a different level of connection with God you desire? Do you find yourself in need of supernatural intervention? Do you sense an unsettledness believing God has a “next” for you? Your motivation doesn’t have to be complicated - it just has to be stated.
2. Nail down your plan.
What are you giving up and how long are you going to do it? There is saying, “if you don’t have a target you will hit it every time.” The point being goals matter so you know if you have hit them. I don’t make figuring out what I am going to not eat become my part time job, I keep it simple: no meat, no sweets, no caffeine and no bread. Daniel 10 says he did not eat any choice foods - those are the categories of my “choice foods.” Personally, I also decide to do a complete fast, water/juice only, a certain amount of days each year as a part of my 21 days. This is what I have to decide. This year I have chosen to do the first seven Daniel Fast, the next seven complete fast and the last seven Daniel Fast. You might to choose for your fast to be three days or seven days or something less than 21 - no problem. Remember, if it matters to you it will matter to God, just nail down your plan.
3. Spend some time alone with God every day.
Refraining from eating and going about your day as usual will not maximize this fast. My suggestion is to get up 30 minutes earlier than normal. First, this will give you some margin in your day that you usually don’t build in. I have learned that morning time with God is more impactful to my day than hitting the snooze button a couple of times.
4. Write down your prayers.
Number one was to write down your motivation. Number four also involves writing. Conversation with God is great, remembering what you and God talked about…priceless! Most men have trouble with this piece but it is a discipline like everything else. If you want to get better at anything it requires instruction and practice. Take this instruction and practice! You aren’t writing a novel or something others will read - writing your prayers forces you to be clear to God and yourself. Writing down what you sense God saying in return keeps those interactions from fading away when times are hard.
5. Read your Bible.
The number one way God reveals Himself and His ways is through scripture. Think about it this way…God is sitting on your bookshelf somewhere waiting to be known by you. How long has He been sitting there waiting on you? The Word is a revealed word so don’t be concerned by what you don’t know about the Bible, be excited about how God can talk to you through the Bible. I suggest going back and forth between Psalms in the Old Testament and the Gospel of John in the New Testament. Both reveal a bunch about who God is and how to relate with Him. While you are writing your prayers, write in your Bible. It’s OK, God won’t mind!
So there you go, those five things ought to get you started and help you move forward in your "Next" Fast. Check back at gatewayfranklin.com soon as I will add post regularly. Feel free to send me questions regarding your fast and please share with me along the way insights God gives you about your Next or Gateway’s Next.