Do you ever feel like you’re around God but not actually spending time with God?
Our church started 21 days of fasting and prayer journey 16 days ago. Many people in our church have chosen to participate in all sorts of fasts for all sorts of reasons. Some are praying for some very specific needs, some are seeking to experience God in a new way, and most of us are probably praying for both. I have some specifics that I’m praying for, but more than that, I have been asking God to help me grow really close to Him and experience Him in a fresh and new way. God is faithful, and I realized this morning on my way to work how much peace I have been experiencing since the first week of the fast. I say “since the first week of the fast” because that first week was tough as I was “hangry” and grumpy most of the time, but this last week has been different. I’m still hungry. I’m still tired and a little weak. But, I have experienced the “peace that passes all understanding.” It is a mystery, but as we choose to say “no” to certain things so we can say “yes” to Jesus through fasting, He seems to move in our lives. This morning as I was praying on my way to work, I remembered that God’s peace and presence are so good. In the midst of a busy schedule with appointments, crises, events, and struggles, I am experiencing God’s peace and presence in a new way. It almost feels like He has moved from just being in the room with me to sitting right next to me on the couch of my life. As I thanked Him for that this morning, He brought to mind a story about one of my granddaughters from last year.
Darla and I were leading a small group of young parents. One night we had a handful of parents in our group and about 14 kids under the age of 6. They had all come to our daughter’s house, where the group met. Our routine was to put all the kids in the living room and hire a couple of babysitters, and then all the parents would sit on the back porch to have our time together. If you think that sounds like chaos, you are right, but it worked better than you might think. One night, after we finished our group and people started leaving, I had a moment with my granddaughter (who, by the way, calls me “Grumps,” but that’s another story). It had been pretty chaotic that particular night, but after everyone had left, it was just our kids and grandkids. I looked over into the living room, and Callie was sitting by herself on the floor watching Veggie Tales. I went over, sat down beside her, pulled her close to me, and gave her a really big squeeze. She leaned into me and said, “I missed you too, Grumps.” We had been at the same house, and some of the time, we were even in the same room, but we weren’t together. We weren’t close, but God gave us this intimate moment where we were really together. I’ll never forget it.
That is what this fast has meant to me. So many times, I am around God, but I’m not really with Him. Something about fasting and prayer slows us down enough or changes our focus to really be present with God and not just in the same room with Him. I described earlier how it is like God has moved from being in the room with me to sitting right next to me on the couch of my life, but the truth is He hasn’t moved at all. He was always there. I was the one running around, stressing, striving, pretending, and performing. God was patiently waiting for me to sit down with him and experience His peace and presence. This fast hasn’t moved God; it has moved me. I feel like there are so many times that I go into God’s presence where I am groveling at his feet and saying, “Lord, I’ve blown it, and I haven’t spent time with you,” and I think he leans in and says “ I miss you too. And I’m glad you are here. Let’s enjoy this time together.”
So please spend some time with the Father today because he misses you too.
I also want to encourage you to take the time to fast and pray. For a period of time, choose to say “no” to something you would normally say “yes” to and choose to use that time to seek God’s presence and watch what happens.
Matthew 7:7-8 - “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, it will be opened.”