40 Days of Prayer 2024: Day 12

Welcome to day 12 of our 40 day challenge! Today is our second day on the practice of fasting.

(You can catch up on Day 1, Day 2 , Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7, Day 8, and Day 9, Day 10, Day 11 if you missed them)

Following the Way of Jesus with our whole selves

Today is our second day focusing on fasting. Yesterday, we talked about how fasting helps us flex our “no” muscle, saying no even to good things, to say yes to what God has for us. Today, we’ll look at saying this yes with our whole selves.

While I am relatively new in my new journey in rest and Sabbath, I felt pretty confident regarding our focus on fasting. I’ve fasted my whole life. I’ve seen breakthroughs and transformations and answered prayers in fasting. But, as the Lord was working on my heart in Sabbath, He began revealing a similar issue I had in how I approached fasting— the role of my physical body in the practices of Jesus.

I began to see how my underlying issues regarding Sabbath affected all other areas, including fasting.

Before my journey with Sabbath and rest, I saw my body’s need for rest as a hindrance to my work in ministry. Instead of accepting and honoring the need (and the Lord’s command) for rest, I resented it and tried to overcome it. As I began focusing on the practices of Jesus, I realized each one is a way of physically acting out the things we believe with our minds and bringing our head knowledge into our bodies.

I began to see that deep down, I viewed my body as something that was working against me. It acted like it was something to master, instead of the temple of the Holy Spirit designed to glorify Him. I had somehow merged my view of my physical self (our bodies) and what Paul calls the “flesh” (our sin nature). I was thinking of my mind, soul, and spirit as good, and my body as bad. I don’t know that I was taught this explicitly, but I also can’t think of ever being taught the opposite either.

You may not need this reminder. I pray you have been living an integrated, whole-person life with Christ! But for those of you who need this perspective change, this will transform how you fast.

The Lord created us mind, body, soul, and spirit. Our whole selves are a new creation in Christ (2 Cor 5:17). Our bodies are not separate from or against our life in Christ. In fact, coming to God with our whole selves is a vital missing piece in our discipleship to Jesus. Paul tells us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, and these practices, done with our whole selves, help us do just that. (Romans 12:1)

How does this perspective change affect fasting?

I am no longer at war with my physical body and its desires and needs. Our bodies are temples, gifts from God to glorify Him. Jesus is God made flesh! He loves us so much He took on flesh to be with us. During my fast, I’m no longer trying to beat my body into submission. It’s my ally, not my enemy. It’s the temple of the Holy Spirit. It’s only a perspective shift, but for me, it feels entirely different.

My whole being is seeking God. I’m not trying to force my body to leave me alone so the rest of me can seek the Lord. I’m not frustrated with it for being weak or needy. I’m grateful that it helps me seek Him. I’m grateful that it helps keep my spiritual pride in check.

And so, my focus turns to transforming that hunger for physical food into a hunger for spiritual food (John 4:32). I’m not just ignoring my physical hunger and trying to focus on God. I’m working with my body instead of against it. That doesn’t mean I don’t feel the effects of hunger, but it does mean that instead of effort resisting it, I accept it and ask the Lord to transform it. I choose to be okay with feeling uncomfortable.

Reflection for prayer and/or journaling:

How have you viewed your physical self in your relationship with Christ? And how about the culture around you? Is it an ally, or hindrance, etc? Have you thought about it at all?

Action steps:

If this is not something you need, pray for the rest of us! If it is, remember that we don’t rewrite our programming overnight. For your fast, begin with the perspective that your whole being is good and is consecrated to God. You can be uncomfortable and be okay! You can want something, crave something, and say no. Think courage over comfort! Build that no muscle while acting out with your whole self that you are seeking God above all else.

Pray together:

Father, we thank you for the gift of bringing our whole selves to you. Even with the effects of a fallen world, and with many limitations, our bodies are a wonder and we commit to using them to glorify you. Help us move our head knowledge into our hearts. Help us bring our desires and cravings to you first to be filled. We ask you to work miracles in the lives of all in this challenge. We ask for changed hearts, changed lives, changed marriages, changed families, changed relationships, changed finances, and changed communities. Bring our hearts in line with your will and give us the strength to do all you’ve asked us. Protect each person here with your Holy Spirit. In the name of Jesus, we pray together, amen.

♥ Samantha