I was seven days into a 21 day fast. I felt miserable, weak and silly for doing it. I didn’t know what I was thinking anymore. I wanted to eat so badly my right arm looked appetizing and I couldn’t see any reason why I shouldn’t. Eat food that is, not my right arm.
I had been confident that it was God who had called me to fast for 21 days, but by day seven I was sure I’d made it up myself. There are lots of people out there that will tell you all the health benefits of fasting, but I don’t care. If God’s not watching me I’m not doing it. If He doesn’t care if I fast or eat, I’m eating, no bones about it. I don’t fast for health reasons, I fast so I can feel God.
I decided to make a deal with God. I knew by now He could speak. Most of the time when I asked Him a specific question that had a time-frame I didn’t get an answer, but I still knew God could speak to me about it if He wanted to so I thought I’d give Him the opportunity. I told the Lord that if this really was Him calling me to fast for 21 days I needed to hear it from Him. I didn’t know any personally but I did know He spoke to prophets a lot more often that He did to me. I told God I could really use one right then. My deal was that I was going to eat at 7pm that evening if I hadn’t heard from Him. I specifically asked God for a prophet to tell me I should be fasting.
Don’t take that the wrong way. I wasn’t testing or challenging God. I’d already decided to eat; I was just giving God an opportunity to speak and correct me if I was wrong. That’s always a good thing to do. God has spoken numerous times since then to correct me and I’m always thankful I have a Father who loves to keep me out of trouble.
I drove home from work that evening waiting for God to call me on the telephone, but it never came.
7pm came and went and so I decided to break my fast early with the best thing I could think of at the time: popcorn. For whatever reason I had a serious craving for buttery, greasy popcorn after having not eaten for seven days. God hadn’t spoken to me so I pulled open the hot, steamy bag and dug in. I think I might have burned my mouth on the first bite.
About a third of the way through the bag I got a call. I’d had two conversations with this guy named Draper up to this point so I was curious why he was calling me at this very moment. Draper seemed to fancy himself a person who heard from God, but I was skeptical. He had called me before with two very flattering “words from God,” but I don’t do flattery.
Still, I was excited and afraid all at the same time. What if Draper was actually going to tell me that God wanted me to fast? What if he had actually heard from God about me? I was still pretty new to this whole prophecy thing and I wasn’t sure how this worked. One thing I did know for sure was that if I was going to be able to trust that God was speaking I had to hear what I wanted to know from someone else first. I couldn’t be the one to say what I was doing, so I didn’t bring anything up. Draper and I made small talk at first and then he abruptly changed the conversation.
“Are you fasting?” he asked.
I couldn’t believe my ears. Did he really just ask me that? Draper and I hadn’t talked or seen each other in a couple weeks. He couldn’t possibly have known that.
“What?” I snapped back.
“Are you fasting?”
“Well, yeah…I am fasting. Why do you ask?” I had to know. Did God tell him that or was this just some strange coincidence?
“I thought so. God told me you were fasting. He said you were struggling with it today.” Draper said confidently.
No way. I was beside myself. Is this really happening? Did God just really answer my question? Was it really Him who called me to fast and not my own imagination? I had already started eating so I didn’t expect God to speak. I figured God didn’t care whether I fasted or not. I still couldn’t believe my ears.
“He told you that?” I asked.
Draper’s confidence was surprising, but I wasn’t 100% sure this was from God. I have more than a healthy bit of skepticism when other people tell me “God told me so.” Maybe Draper had in fact seen me around town and I just didn’t know it. Maybe it was coincidence. I had to know.
I had done a few extended fasts by this point and I knew that the best way to get through them was to have three things I was intentionally praying for. I always wrote down how long I was going to fast and three specific one-word topics that I was focusing my prayers on so that I could keep my focus when I wanted to quit. This time they hadn’t been especially helpful.
I had written down in my private prayer journal that I was praying for “anointing, clarity and breakthrough” that time. I needed to challenge Draper a little bit. This was too important to me.
“If God told you I was fasting, did He tell you for how many days?” I quizzed.
“Yep.” Draper’s curt responses would be something I’d get used to in the future. He enjoyed keeping the game afoot but all I could feel was anxiety.
“Well, how many?”
“21 days.” I could hear Draper’s smug smile through the phone. He said it with a king of swagger that you can only hear in Draper’s voice.
But this wasn’t good news. Draper told me exactly the number of days I’d fast for and only God and I knew that. I was in trouble because obviously I hadn’t made this number up. It was important to God and here I was with popcorn grease all over my shirt.
“Did He tell you what I was fasting for?” I asked hesitantly. I figured if God had told Draper the number of days, what was the harm in asking about my requests, too?
“Yep. He told me that too.”
I’ve never been so nervous in all my life. I wanted so badly for him to tell me my three things, but I thought I’d better not get my hopes up. That just seemed impossible. How could Draper know the things I was praying about? Could God really tell him that?
“What did He say?”
“You know,” Draper sheepishly replied.
“Well, I know that I know, Draper. I want to know if you know! What did God say I was fasting for?” I wasn’t going to let him off the hook.
Draper shot back, “He said you’re fasting for three things: anointing, clarity and breakthrough.”
The line went silent.
Draper hadn’t said words similar to what I’d chosen, he said them verbatim. There’s no possible way he could have guessed them; it had to have come from God. I was overwhelmed.
I don’t remember how the rest of the conversation went. I’m not sure I even hung up the phone. My wife Sarah was sitting next to me the whole time soaking in the conversation. After I got off the phone I needed a moment to process what had just happened and she wanted to know what the other half of the conversation was. It was too much for me at that moment. I just sat there stunned.
In the end I knew I’d heard directly from God, not from Draper. I determined I was going to finish the fast I’d started.
I put the bag of popcorn down and I told the Lord that if He was good enough to speak to me like that I knew He was good enough to forgive me for doubting Him and let me finish out my fast from there on. That word from God didn’t make the rest of the fast any easier physically, but you can bet I wasn’t eating another thing until my 21 days were over.
I finished that fast in awe of God’s love, His voice and the level to which He cared about my life.
An Engaging Person
Sarah and I met Draper in the fall of 2003 not long after we moved to Temple, Texas. Sarah was in medical school at the time and she ran across a guy playing a public piano in her hospital. He was worshipping the Lord beautifully in that lobby and it caught her attention because it was so out of the ordinary. She stopped and watched as he played. Everyone else was too intimidated and a little weirded out to say anything but Sarah went up and introduced herself briefly. She was captured by his boldness to worship God in such a public place.
We ran across him next at a church service in town a few weeks later and he recognized Sarah and came up and said hello. I shook Draper’s hand and he immediately struck me as a little different. The whole conversation I was trying to put my finger on what made him so different. He was engaging and a little strange all at the same time. You could tell instantly that he was the kind of person you’d really like to get to know. He didn’t fiddle around with all the societal norms of an introductory conversation. If he knew what those norms were, he didn’t seem to care.
I like that in a person. I like it a lot in fact. Most of the time I play by the rules. It takes much less energy that way. What I mean is we don’t really tell someone how we’re feeling when we’re asked. We say something like “we’re okay.” But we’re never “okay.” No one is. There’s always something going in our lives on but we choose to say nothing because that’s how the game is played.
We also don’t ask probing questions. We scratch the surface with pleasantries, especially when we meet someone new. Not Draper. After one meeting you were going to love or hate him, but you weren’t going to leave without the opportunity to get to truly know him.
I get tired of playing by the rules sometimes and I break rank. Most other people do it from time to time as well but Draper had already thrown the rule book away. He was bold, engaging and able to instantly connect with people. From his “GQ” appearance and manner I assumed he must have been a politician or at leas an aspiring one. I figured he must have an agenda to be that captivating a person.
That day we exchanged phone numbers and did the normal “let’s get together” thing. At least I did. Not Draper. He insisted several times he was going to call. Almost uncomfortably so.
I got busy and went about the rest of my day and forgot about Draper until later that evening when I got a call from him.
In Draper’s unique style we dispensed with our pleasantries very quickly and I told him it had been great to meet him that morning. We chatted for a while about what each other were doing in life and just before I got off the phone he stopped me.
“I called because I needed to tell you something the Lord told me about you,” Draper said boldly. “He told me He’s going to give you ‘double for your trouble.'”
“Double for my trouble?” I asked.
“Yep, double for your trouble.”
That was vague and odd. Don’t get me wrong, if God’s going to promise me double for my trouble, I’ll take it. What was odd was his confidence in saying it and his lack of knowing anything about me. Draper didn’t know what Sarah and I had sacrificed to serve the Lord the way we were at the time. Draper didn’t know all the things we’d done and all the things we’d said “no” to in the past year in trying to be obedient to God.
“What do you mean?” I shot back.
“He sees all that you’ve done and how hard you’ve worked. He sees what you’ve given up and He’s going to give you double,” Draper reassured me.
What Draper didn’t know was that I had long prayed something to God from the life of Elijah and Elisha. Elijah promised that if God let Elisha see him being taken up to heaven that God would give Elisha a double portion of Elijah’s anointing. I had long asked God for the same thing. If it was available to me, I wanted a double portion of God’s anointing.
I had no idea what that would look like, but it seemed like something good and bold to ask for.
I’ve had lots of well-meaning people along the way promise me all kinds of things by the word of the Lord that I know weren’t really God. Their heart was in the right place and I always appreciate people trying to hear God on my behalf, but most of the time promises like that are empty. Most of the time I politely encourage them and think no more about it. I chose not to latch on to Draper’s word too closely because it seemed like flattery. It was strangely close to something that was very meaningful to me, but it just seemed like someone trying to puff me up. But it did stick with me. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
It might have been the fact that a month earlier I had been praying and I felt impressed by God to ask Him to release prophets in our area. This was a stirring in my heart more powerful than I’d ever felt before. It was so strong, in fact, that I felt like God wanted me to get up in front of our little home group that evening and proclaim with certainty that He was going to raise up prophets in the area and He wanted us to pray for them.
I’d never “proclaimed” anything before. Certainly not that God was going to raise up prophets. But I did it. I stood up that evening in a little small group of the leaders of our prayer ministry and proclaimed that God was raising up prophets and we needed to join in prayer to see God do it. Needless to say that was an awkward moment.
From that day on I was really paying attention. I listened carefully to anyone who seemed to have a word from God or even looked like what I thought a prophet would look like. Until that night on the phone Draper was neither of those things. He didn’t talk like what I thought a prophet would talk like and he certainly didn’t look like one.
I figured a prophet would look like John the Baptist; someone dressed like they missed the fashion memo from 100 years ago. I expected some disheveled hobo who glared through his one good eye to speak the oracles of God to me. Draper could have been on the cover of a men’s fashion magazine and he was a jock. I thought for sure no prophet could be good at sports.
But that night something he said or the way he said it caused me to question all that. Could Draper truly be prophetic? The word seemed like pure flattery but something about it just wouldn’t leave me.
It was just a few weeks after that initial phone conversation that Draper would catch me eating popcorn.
The Beginning of Something New
That was the beginning of something fascinating that I never grow tired of thinking about. It may be hard to believe, but for the next four years Draper called me within the first three days of every fast I went on. During that time I went on 6 extended fasts and Draper called me every time. Without fail.
He would call me and tell me how many days I was fasting for and the three things, word for word, that I was focusing on. For four years Draper didn’t miss one. In fact, the last two times it happened I waited for Draper’s phone call I was so sure it would happen.
God didn’t disappoint.
Every single time God spoke through Draper how important those fasts were to Him. He reinforced that it wasn’t just my imagination that caused me to go on these extended fasts; it was God Himself. I lived in such awe of God’s love and grace to speak to me and encourage me to finish the fasts. I knew they were important, I just didn’t fully know why.
I wasn’t disappointed until I finally got the point. After four years I finally understood that when I felt the need to go on an extended fast it was because God was giving me grace to do it. I never heard an angel or saw some sign in the heavens. I just felt a little stirring in my heart that I needed to dedicate my heart to fast for a season for some purpose. I never even felt God give me my “three things,” I always chose them myself.
After four years I understood that it was definitely God who asked me to fast. I haven’t doubted since then that it was God who called me to fast, and it was then that Draper stopped calling when I fasted. The Lord no longer told him what I needed to hear because I finally believed it for myself. From that point on I haven’t heard from Draper during a fast. I no longer doubt that when I feel like I should fast it’s from God. My wife certainly does, but I don’t.
I’ve got many more “Draper Stories” to tell. Draper has called me and told me what I prayed and the Lord’s answer to that prayer 40 times or more since then. Often Draper tells me word-for-word what I pray or write down in secret. Nothing is hidden from the God who speaks into Draper’s ears and I love it when God speaks those things to me. Draper has given me encouragement and chastisement from God and I love them both the same.
Whether God tells me He likes what I’m doing or when He steadies my hand from sin I love hearing from Him. Both are for my good and I know that God speaks both because of His great love for me.
Many people are afraid of hearing from God because they think He’ll expose their sin, but they’ve not considered the true nature of their sin. All our unconfessed sin lies open and bare before the God of heaven. He knows anyway, so it’s always for our good to hear from God to repent. I’ve needed that many times in my life and God has been so kind and faithful to use Draper for me in that way.
I know for sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’m God’s son because He’s corrected me. It’s never pleasant but I always love God for it. He cares enough about me to bring me back on to the right path.
Ask God to speak to you, good or bad. He loves you so much that both are for your good. There’s nothing I know that feels better than to know the God of creation knows you and cares enough to speak to you. Will you choose to ask Him to do it and be patient to listen?