What God Showed Me in My First Extended Fast
Our church did a 21-day fast in January. As I prepared for the fast (my first extended one) and prayed about what my focus should be, I asked God to show me areas that I haven’t yet surrendered to him. Several times over the 21 days, I asked the Holy Spirit to help me noticeably in the moment when I struggle to give grace, trust God, or pause before I speak. There were days where I told my husband that I felt and knew the Spirit had given me words or intervened to have me choose a different response.
There were also hard days. One such day, I was going through my Bible plan reading, and God very clearly spoke to me about my struggle with needing to always be right. I discerned him teaching me that he wants me to know him more than needing to always be proved right, that I am not the standard for rightness.
And a couple of days later, when it was suggested by my discipleship mentor to study meekness, I realized this was an area in which my sin ran deep.
“I discerned him teaching me that he wants me to know him more than needing to always be proved right.”
The Greek word praus means gentle, mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit. This is the word used in Matthew 5:5 which reads “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.”
As I continued to study and seek what God wanted to teach me, these words glared at me from my computer screen. Meekness is wholly relying on God rather than our own strength to defend against injustice. It’s the opposite of self-assertiveness and self-interest. It stems from trust in God’s goodness and control over the situation. This virtue is a strong bulwark against intolerant and critical judgment of others.
I had asked God to break my heart in this area of self-rightness and self-righteousness as I gave it over to him and I felt the breaking. I felt grief over how I had treated others, over my attitudes, my words. On this day, I especially found myself struggling with the fast: I found myself scrolling on my phone, wanting to close myself up in my room, and, above all, wanting to eat. I realized I was trying to soothe myself with the wrong things and my old habits and that the enemy was fighting to keep me from changing. He was fighting to draw my attention away from the Holy Spirit.
“I realized I was trying to soothe myself with the wrong things and my old habits and that the enemy was fighting to keep me from changing.”
As I turned my attention back to the Holy Spirit in prayer and resisted the temptations, I wrote in my journal:
“I don’t know how to be different without feeling afraid, like a failure, like I’m wrong, or like I have not done what I need to. I feel lost, like I don’t know what to do. Holy Spirit, are you telling me I need to be the opposite of who I am?”
You see, I have always protected myself, known what’s best, hidden my emotions, and been opinionated, critical, and judgmental of others. I had needed to always be “right” and this need had affected everything. Previously, I had not been able to see how this affected my relationships, my parenting, and, most importantly, my walk with God. I was unable to move forward toward him, toward others, toward healing. I had spent several years feeling guilty and trying to do better but always falling back into the same old cycle.
“I needed a radical remaking, one I was realizing began with real surrender to the work of the Holy Spirit.”
I needed a radical remaking, one I was realizing began with real surrender to the work of the Holy Spirit. I didn’t quite understand what that meant yet, but I was willing to learn.
My discipleship mentor says it’s like learning to walk all over again, but with God by my side. This process is so amazing, so beautiful, so transforming, and worth every single bit of the breaking. As I finished up the last few days of the fast, I was changed. I now feel a connection to the Holy Spirit I didn’t know was possible before, and I look forward to continuing to learn to walk with him, one day at a time.