Day 1 - January 27th, 2019 - Michael

I woke up before my alarm this morning, and I couldn’t go back to sleep. I normally wake up on time to get to the school by 8 to be there for set up, but this morning, I was ready with 20 minutes to spare. Looking back now, I needed that time. On day 1 of this four-week period of prayer and fasting, I needed a slow morning as a trendsetter for the next 28 days. I often feel rushed, and it’s not as much because I’m so busy, but rather because I have put something off till the last minute, perhaps you can relate.

I have never fasted seriously before, in fact, I have never even thought about seriously fasting. As someone who has often struggled with my weight, the alure of fasting in my youth was not as much the intimacy with the Creator, but more the potential weight loss (unhealthy viewpoint, I know). So because of that, I have never fasted from food. I remember one time growing up in church, the whole church (the adults at least) was supposed to do a 24-hour fast one Saturday. I remember being around 10 and not really getting it. I didn't fast. My mom made me and my brothers hot dogs for lunch. I’m sure she was super bummed to be missing out on hot dog day…

In the past several years, I have grown to understand fasting as something people do to spark societal change. I’ve read books where people have gone on a hunger fast until the government changed it’s laws regarding social justice, and I’ve read books where people have fasted to connect more deeply with God. And that’s just the thing: my relationship and understanding has been purely intellectual, something people do in books, not something I do in my life.

So here I am, taking the plunge for the first time, and I’m weirdly excited. Many things that we do in our culture are results based and driven. When we go to school, it doesn’t matter what we did to get it, at the end of the semester, we just want an A. We could learn nothing and get an A, or we could learn a ton and get an A. Either way, when we walk out of class with an A, we feel accomplished. In our jobs, we all the time try and measure how well we are doing by the results. We define success, and then we use metrics to make sure that we are getting the results that we desire.

Prayer and fasting doesn’t seem to be like that at all. Often I mistakenly view my prayers as bringing God my to-do list, and if the prayer is answered the way I want, it’s a win. If not, it’s a loss. Unfortunately for me, I’m afraid I’ve been tragically missing the point. In praying and fasting, there is no losing. Whatever happens, we will have gained an immeasurable amount through communion with Almighty God. The Divine has been made available to us; there’s no losing!

So on day 1 of this season, I pray for a great awakening. I pray that those whose names I’ve been given will be more aware tomorrow of the goodness of God than they were today. I pray for a renewed hunger in our hearts for intimacy with God. And I pray that God’s kingdom will come to earth more fully with each passing moment.

Thanks for taking the plunge with me!

-Michael

Michael Clinger