What Matters to God When We Fast?

It’s our first day after completing the 21 Day Fast for Pastor Saeed.  Let’s commit to pray daily for Naghmeh and her children.  During the fast, our main purpose was to cry out with one voice for Pastor Saeed’s release from prison.  Yet we’ve experienced other benefits too, ranging from breakthroughs in certain problem areas to better health.

As my friend Tonya put it,  “I’ve  been caffeine free for 23 days and I haven’t hurt anyone yet.”  Another friend says fasting brought more focus to her prayers.  She’s decided to do further fasting as she seeks God’s guidance and direction.  Dear friends, time spent seeking the Lord is never wasted. Continue reading

My Top 10 Takeaways from Fasting

This is Day 21 of the 21 Day Fast for Pastor Saeed.  You made it!   It’s been exciting to join thousands around the world praying for Saeed and Naghmeh.  Her ten minute meeting with President Obama was a two year miracle in the making.  I hope you’ve also sensed God moving in your life during these twenty one days. So what’s next?

I encourage you to think about what you will do tomorrow.  The day you no longer wake up thinking, “Here we go.  Another day without chocolate or coffee, gluten, or social media.   Or whatever.”  You may feel a bit of a let down.

From a physical standpoint, I find it helps to come off a fast gently.  If I fasted from food, it’s best to eat lightly rather than gorging on everything in sight.  Same with coffee, chocolate, or anything else you’ve been denying yourself.  Ease back in.  You’ll be glad you did.

But wait.  Twenty one days of praying fervently for Naghmeh and for Pastor Saeed’s release. Twenty one days seeking God in our own life.  What do we take away from our fast?

I’ve been pondering that question.  What insights have I gained?  What habits do I want to take with me as I move forward?  Just how does one come out of a time of fasting and prayer?  I thought I’d simply share my list.

The top ten things I plan to take with me after my fast:

1.  I commit to keep praying for Pastor Saeed.  To stand with him and Naghmeh until he is home with his family.  He’s on my Monday prayer list.  Plus, I’m setting my cell phone to remind me to pray for him every day at noon for one minute.

2. I plan to rest a little more.  I like the pace I kept while fasting.  Time to notice the little things.  To breathe deep.  To be thankful.

3. Fasting made me more alert to God’s voice.  I sensed Him telling me how to pray and for whom.  I want to remain alert, especially to God’s whispers.

4. I like the teamwork.  It was nice knowing others were fasting and praying together for a common cause.  I want to experiment with fasting and praying with friends for areas that seem stuck.

5. I’m more in touch with the plight of Persecuted Christians all over the world.  I plan to continue to learn how to pray, give, and even go to those places.

6. I’m inspired to fight a little harder, endure a little longer, be willing to suffer a little more in my stand for Jesus.

7. I am going to practice fasting.  I’m trying to form a habit of regular fasting on Mondays.  A friend plans to do the same, so I hope we can encourage each other.

8. I’m going to watch what I eat.  Fasting from gluten was a good thing.  My body is thanking me, so I think I’ll stay away from gluten whenever possible.  Most sugar and white flour, too.

9. I also want to enjoy an occasional feast.  The Bible talks about feasting as well as fasting.   Celebration as well as self denial.  Feasting is delightful when you also know what it feel like to fast.

10. Stand firm.  I need to persevere.  The personal breakthrough I’m seeking hasn’t happened yet.  Maybe yours hasn’t either.  Remember, Naghmeh had a miraculous meeting with the President, but Saeed is still in prison.  She has learned to depend on God’s strength daily while she waits for the final breakthrough and Saeed is home.

Waiting is hard.  But fasting helped me press into God and draw more of His power and goodness.  Naghmeh is right.  When you allow your trials to drive you into Jesus, there’s a rest and peace that can’t be explained.  He comforts and sustains us while we wait for our breakthrough.





Day Twenty: Do you have something the devil wants?

We’re on Day Twenty of the 21 Day Fast for Pastor Saeed.  Naghmeh Abedini has seen significant breakthroughs in her battle to bring Saeed home.  Some of you have experienced breakthroughs of your own in areas where you’ve felt stuck.  Perhaps you’ve gained spiritual insight, now able to see your problem from God’s perspective.

But I must admit.  Prayer and fasting are still something of a mystery to me. I wonder why the Bible encourages us to pray and fast when we encounter stubborn resistance. Could it be that some battles are harder than others because the enemy knows the stakes are so high?

My epiphany came the other day in a parking lot,  of all places.  I was heading home after a quick run for coffee with my husband.  From a distance, we saw what appeared to be a very aggressive bird battle under some nearby cedar trees.   As we got closer, we saw the target of this assault was a very large hawk. His noisy attackers appeared to be about half a dozen black crows. The angry birds darted in and out, fiercely attacking the hawk. Continue reading

Day Nineteen: Finish Strong

It’s Day Nineteen of our 21 Day Fast for Pastor Saeed.  So glad you’ve stayed with us for the  final lap!  Lots has happened during our time of fasting and prayer. Naghmeh calls her unexpected meeting with President Obama a “miracle.” I agree and rejoice with her.  Now we need another miracle to bring Saeed home!  Many of you are fervently praying that our President will not be able to forget their faces, nor rest until he brings Saeed back to his family.

Some of you have shared your own stories of how this 21 Day Fast has opened doors and given you fresh perspective into your problem areas.  Now it’s important to remain alert and watchful to guard the ground we’ve gained.  The enemy is always looking for a breech in our wall.  No wonder we bump into trouble at times.

It’s not like Jesus didn’t warn us.  “In this world you will have trouble,  but take heart,” He reminds us.  “I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).   Friends, we need to stay connected to Jesus if we hope to stand our ground when trouble hits.

To stand one’s ground is to endure .  The word endure comes from two words:  hypo or “under”, and meno, “to remain.”   Meno is the same word Jesus uses when He tells us to abide in him (John 15:7).  So to endure is to “remain under”  a painful  trial with grace.   It’s bearing up under a load of trouble with a peaceful mind.

Let’s pray for the Holy Spirit to strengthen Naghmeh and Pastor Saeed so they can continue to stand their ground.  To abide in Jesus daily.  To endure until he is released.

That’s also my prayer for all of us during these last three days of our fast.  May we be strengthened to stand our ground,.  We can’t endure apart from Jesus, so we must abide in Him daily.  Rely on the Holy Spirit. Stay filled up with God’s Word.

And remember: If we abide when it’s light,  we’ll be able to endure in the dark.  



Day Eighteen: See with New Eyes

Welcome to Day Eighteen of our 21 Day Fast for Pastor Saeed.  This is the home stretch!  Nahgmeh Abedini believes fasting and prayer opened the door to her unexpected meeting with President Obama this week.  Perhaps you’ve also experienced movement in those areas where you’ve been seeking a breakthrough.

Sometimes, it’s just a matter of perspective.  Fasting helps me see my situation with new eyes. My friend Tim, who is new to fasting, said this:  “A huge lesson that I have learned from fasting is that while fasting and praying, God seems to put our problems into perspective.  God allows us the opportunity to get out of the weeds and soar above the trees so that we can see the total picture and his full design.”  He adds,  “Fasting brings a sense of peace and  humility to my life.  It allows me to open my mind to the very simple yet life-sustaining gifts that God grants us daily.”

I really like Tim’s image of “getting out of the weeds and soaring with the trees.”  Can you relate? It’s easy to get stuck in the mire of our own issues, missing God’s perspective, but fasting helps us “soar above the trees.”  We begin to see our situation through God’s eyes.

One way we do this when we fast is by focusing on the hurts and needs of others. God tells us in Isaiah 58:6-11  that this kind of fast pleases Him.  As you read the following verses, reflect your experience these last seventeen days of praying and fasting for the release of Pastor Saeed.

This is the kind of fasting I want:  Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you.  Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help (Isaiah 58:6,7  NLT).

Fasting and praying for the release of Saeed has lightened my own load and drawn me deeper into God’s presence.  Isn’t that just like God’s upside down economy?  When I’m busy with His business, He’s behind the scenes working on mine.  I may give up time, energy, food, or prayers for the needs of another, only to discover my own needs are met in the process. The promised reward for God’s chosen fast rings true:

Then your light will break forth like the dawn,  and your healing will quickly appear (Isaiah 58:8 NIV).

My Prayer:  “Lord, as we pour ourselves out in prayer and fasting for those that are oppressed, we entrust our own hurts and needs into Your hands and wait expectantly for You to move on our behalf.”  Amen.