God has made me hungry enough to fast through the years. If you haven’t read this yet, I’m not bragging, but trying to stir up in me and you the history of what God has done in my life through fasting. I’m currently struggling to jump back on the fasting wagon, and I’m telling you to help both you and me.
The first time God answered me through a fast was truly astounding and it changed not only my thinking about fasting but my entire life.
I’ve written about powerful encounters the Lord has given me before here but I haven’t shared about how God spoke to me about fasting.
It was 2003 and I was desperate to receive from God. I was desperate enough to go on a 21 day fast. It was only the second time in my life I’d attempted that and by day 7 I was ready to quit. I was so ready that I put a fleece out for the Lord. I told the Lord if it was really Him who wanted me on this fast, I needed to hear from Him about it and if He didn’t speak to me I’d just assume it was me being silly and too radical and I’d quit.
I prayed hard about all that day. I had heard a story of a man named Lou Engle who broke a fast early and was caught by a prophet who saw what he ate. I figured if God could speak to him He could tell me to quit or keep going. I asked Him to have a prophet call me and tell me to keep going.
The problem with that prayer was that I didn’t know any prophets. I’d also never had anyone call me and tell me what I was thinking or doing on the spot. Now that I look back on it, I was trying to make it impossibly hard for God to keep me on the fast. I truly believed God could speak if He really wanted me on the fast, but I really needed to know it was Him and not me.
How To Know?
God spoke nothing that day through any of the prophets I didn’t know, so I decided break my fast with the healthiest meal I could think of: popcorn. I had given God until 7pm that evening of the 7th day of my fast and at 7:01 I was munching down on my bag of microwaveable popcorn. I was halfway through it when I got a call from a very new friend.
“Hey Draper, how are you doing?” I said as I answered the phone. It was only the third time I’d spoken to Draper but I had already grown fond of the new friend my wife and I had made.
Draper shot back with a few pleasantries and after a couple minutes asked a question uncharacteristically timid.
“Are you fasting?” he asked. I took my hand out of the popcorn bag and cautiously considered my response.
“Why do you ask? I said.
“I just thought you might be fasting,” Draper shot back.
“Well, I was fasting until five minutes ago. Now I’m having popcorn. I’d asked God to tell me whether or not I should be fasting and He didn’t say anything so I decided to break the fast early.”
“I thought so,” Draper said very confidently.
“What do you mean?” I asked. “Did God tell you I was fasting?”
“Oh yeah,” Draper said playfully.
We had some playful back and forth over that and I finally asked Draper the important question that was on my mind. I had fasted 7 days already, but I was wondering if the original 21 days I had in mind was just me or was it ordained by God? Had I come up with that number or had I heard it from Him?
“Did He tell you how many days, Draper?”
“Yeah He did. God told me you were supposed to be fasting for 21 days.”
I stared with wide eyes at the popcorn bag. “What do I do now?” I thought to myself. A thought entered my mind right then. 21 days was a very “biblical sounding” number for a fast. Maybe Draper had just guessed. I needed to know for sure it was God.
I always choose three things to pray about while I’m fasting extended periods to keep my mind focused. This time it hadn’t worked so well, but every other time it really helped keep me focused on why I was making myself miserable with not eating. I always chose three specific topics and I knew Draper couldn’t guess those.
When Everything Changes
“Draper, did God tell you what I was fasting for?”
“Oh yeah He did. He said you were fasting for wisdom, power and breakthrough,” Draper quickly fired back.
I was speechless. He hadn’t told me something similar to what I was praying for; Draper used the three exact words I had used. Only God could have done that. No person could have randomly guessed that. I told Draper that I was putting down the popcorn and jumping back on the fast immediately.
My impossible fleece was anything but impossible for God. That event marked my life. You’d think I never would have doubted again that it was God calling me to fast. You’d be wrong.
In fact, every time after that for four years I doubted. Was it just me or was it God who wanted me fasting. After that I embarked on a season of fasting 10-21 days at a time two to three times a year. Each time I’d set the number of days and the three things I’d fast for before I started and each time I’d wonder if the hunch I had in the weeks before that it was time for a fast was really from God or not.
And each time for the next four years Draper would call me within the first three days. I made a point never to tip him off. I never said a word to anyone about my fasts and each new time Draper would call me and tell me how many days I was fasting for and what the three things I was praying for were; word for word.
Draper never failed to call and tell me the Lord Himself had spoken to him about my fasts until four years later when I went on an extended fast and I told the Lord, “I’m done doubting now. I know this is you and I won’t even think about questioning it.” From that day I haven’t doubted a fast and Draper’s never called again.
The Lord set in concrete in my heart that if I had an extended fast on my heart that it was from Him, or at least that if I had chosen to fast that He was going to honor my commitment by giving me power and grace to do it.
Changing My Thinking
I think much differently about it now, but back then I figured that if the fast I was on wasn’t ordained by the Lord then it was just me wasting my time and effort. The truth is actually that the Lord loves when we reach out for Him in any way and He always accepts that if our heart is truly reaching for Him.
I don’t question now whether or not fasting is from God or not. Whether it’s from Him or me now I know that He will honor my hunger for Him, and He always has.
Have you struggled wondering whether or not you should fast or if you’re just having silly thoughts? Sound off in the comments and let me know your experience.