New and Old Seasons

As I enjoy my Sunday afternoon with a cup of coffee and the Redskins-Giants game in the background, I think I have officially come to terms with the fact that summer is over.  School is back in session, new projects are on the docket at work, and the quickly shortening days reinforce the reality of autumn.  Somehow this time of year always seems like a fresh start to me.  That could also be a sign I’ve spent too many years in school.

In any case, with fresh starts come the chance to reevaluate life, including our Monday fastpray routine.  I wanted to start with three not-so-great underlying reasons for fasting on Mondays:

  1. To establish my superior state of singleness and/or piety.  Fasting and praying is not proof that I have come so far in my journey; it is proof that I am deeply broken by sin and am deeply needy for God’s grace.
  2. To eat a big dinner.  At the risk of stating the obvious, abstaining from food (or facebook or whatever we’re fasting from) is not the point.  If Mondays become simply an exercise in willpower, I have missed the entire point of learning dependence on Christ’s strength.
  3. To avoid engaging with my reality.  If I fast so I don’t have to spend more time with my annoying coworkers or because it’s easier to not eat than face the pain in my heart, I’ve also really missed the point.  Spiritual disciplines should not be defense mechanisms but doorways to the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

True confession: I have occasionally used one or all of these reasons for my Monday fasting practice.  As I start this new season, although I am more aware of my deep sinfulness, I am also more confident that “He who began a good work in [me] will carry it on to completion.”

And that, really, is the bigger context for all of our journeys.  We struggle with hope and waiting specifically in our current state of singleness, but the bottom line is always the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Mondays are an opportunity to remind ourselves of that truth by coming with our wayward hearts, casting our cares on the One who gave Himself for us, and trusting that He, in His sovereignty, has already and will continue to “work all things together for good.”

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12 Responses to New and Old Seasons

  1. Elisabeth says:

    Thank you for this reminder! As I was stumped this morning by some ticklish points in my writing, remembering this post helped me use food as an illustration of my dependence on God in my work, rather than a distraction from the problem. This led to some very heartfelt prayers — and some very practical answers!

  2. Katy says:

    I find your 1st point the hardest — about doing this to feel superior and rightous in our singleness… I think I fast and pray thinking I will have arrived at a certain level of piety and God will reward me — that I will finally be good enough to be blessed with a husband.

    This is false for two reasons:
    (1) although I believe that prayer does bring change, especially expectant prayer like Hannah prayed, suddenly being “righteous enough” won’t guarantee a spouse for sure. (sidenote: you can never be righteous enough)
    (2) it leaves me feeling horrible about myself and believing the lies that those who God gave husbands were good enough. I once had another single friend tell me that my younger sister was so mature and thats why God blessed her with a husband and the two of us must still be maturing. While I hope I still am maturing and I hope my married sister is still maturing, she did not recieve marriage because she reached some level of spiritual maturity. Hearing things like when you grow in your faith or when you quit looking (because mature people apparently come to a point where they quit longing for marriage), then he will arrive — makes me so mad! So fasting because I think it will make me super spiritual — enough so that God will love and bless me — is a lie.

    The truth is I pray because I want the result of my prayer…not because it makes me a better Christian. I pray to get closer to the only one who will fulfill (whether I have a husband or not). I pray so that I may be changed. I pray because as my heart aches and I long, what else could I do except go to the One who made me to desire marriage and the One who can bless with marriage?

    I can’t pray because I think it will help me “to arrive” and a higher level of righteousness and piety.

  3. Well said. Yes, working all things for good, even while He has made everything beautiful in its time. Love, joy, peace, patience and eyes to see, please Father. Come Lord!

  4. Kirsten Harnett says:

    Beautifully stated. Thank you!

  5. Gina says:

    Connally, thanks so much for being honest with us and encouraging us to be honest with ourselves!

  6. Leanne says:

    Hello,i love reading your fastpray but today i just feel so low that im having a pity party. I have been single for 6yrs and all i want is to get married to a God honouring guy and have children. Im south african and have move to Dubai for a change of life. Im not so happy in my job and im not a happy person. I have been a christian nearly 7 yrs,and it’s been hard for me as both my sisters are married and one is now pregnant and as much as im so happy for them im still so sad as my engagement fell to pieces and broke my heart and now i have been praying for my husband, Every guy that comes into my life i feel God just shuts the door. I can’t understand why he wants me to be on my own. I feel his just left me in the desert. Im writing to you to pls pray for me as im going through a ruff patch in my life. I love reading fastpray as sometimes it’s exactly what i need to read. Also i think i need to fast face book as i have become addicted to it.

    • fast. pray. says:

      Yes, a broken heart is so hard. I’m so sorry. And that feeling of being in exodus, hopelessly lost in a desert is equally tough–scary for fear of the ‘haunting specter of singleness.’ I do not know what your future will hold, obviously, but three thoughts come to mind for the time-being. 1) I have been single far longer than I would have anticipated, and what I have discovered is that in spite of endless waves of tough feelings at different times, God has NEVER abandoned me. Truly, my heart is not the heart of a beggar, but the heart of a woman who has been given so much. I can testify that God does not abandon his beloved children, of which you are one; he does not abandon his bride, who you are. It might sound like so much ‘talk,’ but I completely bank on the knowledge (head and heart) that He wants and has GOOD for me and for you–even if that good comes in ways or times that are not what I would have chosen. As well, 2) if at all possible, try and find one or two trusted friends or mentors wherever you are living with whom you can share your heart/soul/aches/joys. The healthy, God-centric friendships of women can be a great gift in the journey. Oh, and 3) keep asking and praying that God would meet you deeply/intimately and would bear fruit through your life, now. He will NOT say no to that prayer.
      I know these thoughts don’t ‘solve’ your pain, but by His grace, they will help you figure out the next step to take, even as you pray around the desires of your heart for marriage. Maybe God is even using this time in your life to answer the prayers about changing us, as women, where we need to be changed. That would be sort of exciting, I think.
      Blessings in the Journey,

      P.S. I really spend a lot of time reading the Psalms, reading about Jesus, or looking up key words to me in the Scriptures (like ‘comfort’ or ‘tears’ or ‘hope’), especially when I find myself feeling achy. I’m always surprised about how well God’s word anchors my soul when I’m veering around.

  7. Joanie says:

    Hi! I heard a little bit about this group and joined over the summer. I’m not exactly sure how it works or what all is involved. Could you give us newbies an overview, please?
    Thanks! :o)
    Joanie Vawter

    • fast. pray. says:

      We basically pray/fast on Mondays during what would be lunch for 1) marriages for those who long to be married, and 2) for men to have the courage to walk upright and into relationship, and 3) for women to have the courage to change where we need to change. If you can find a friend to pray with you, that would be ideal. And pray as specifically as possible. But however you pray, know that you joining with 460 others as we fast and pray into these arenas.
      Glad you can join with us~

  8. smvernalis says:

    Thanks for these great reminders! I’m so looking forward to returning to fasting tomorrow; my soul needs it!

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