We are on Day Seventeen of our 21 Day Fast for Pastor Saeed. We’re seeing progress, so keep praying for Naghmeh! Click here for an update on her meeting yesterday with President Obama. She believes this encounter came about as the result of so many people all over the world fasting and praying.
One of those fasting and praying from the other side of the world is my friend Ashley. She and her husband and four tiny children recently moved to Japan as full time missionaries. I hope you will be challenged to consider not only the power, but the intimacy of fasting as you read today’s post.
GUEST BLOG: By Ashley McKenzie
Fasting. It sounds so old-tradition to me. It has always been one of those spiritual disciplines that I would push aside, reasoning that depriving myself of food or a good pleasure is not something God could desire. I still pray daily. I am in the Word. Where is the need for fasting?
When I look in the Bible at times when people fasted, it was typically not during the days of plenty, but rather in times of mourning or during difficult situations. Daniel 9:2-3 gives such a perfect description of fasting: I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. Daniel goes on to pray a beautiful prayer of confession for his people.
There is often a great burden of the heart and a time of mourning that brings about the need to pray and fast. A few years ago, one of my dearest friends went in for an ultrasound to find out the sex of her second child. She came out with the devastating news that her little boy in utero had trisomy 13, a genetic disorder that takes the life of most babies before they are even born. The following months leading up to her son Jeremiah’s birth were spent more on my knees than standing.
Many others who knew my friend Rebecca did the same. There was such mourning, such grief, such desperation for a miracle on behalf of baby Jeremiah that I set aside Wednesday each week to fast from lunch. Like Daniel, Wednesday was such a day of sackcloth for me. I would plead with the Lord for the life of Jeremiah. I would pray over milestones in Rebecca’s pregnancy. There was praise for reaching a certain number of weeks, praise for getting closer to her due date, but still deep sorrow for the great unknown of what was to come.
One conversation with Rebecca was pivotal. I had continued to pray over and over again for God to change Jeremiah, to make him perfect, to heal him completely. But one day Rebecca said she just wanted to hold him. So that became my prayer. Lord, just give her time with him. And God answered that prayer. Her family had forty eight beautiful minutes with Jeremiah before he died. And he was perfect just the way he was. Many times I have had the wonderful privilege to share this story about Jeremiah. It was such an honor to pray for him and his brave mama. But until Marilynn asked me about a time of fasting, I have always left the fasting part out of my story. I am not sure why. It just seemed too intimate.
Jesus talks about the privacy of fasting (Matthew 6:16-18,). I always thought this was to keep us from boasting, which I believe is true. But there is also something so intimate about fasting before the Lord alone. It is vulnerable and humbling. It allows God to see deep parts of our soul, deep mourning and grieving that only He can bring peace and healing to. For me, the pain I felt for Rebecca went deeper than the pain I felt for food, and drove me further in to the arms of my Father who hears and who heals. There is great beauty and unity with the Lord when we, in an already desperate state, allow ourselves to become even more vulnerable in prayer and fasting.
I encourage each of you. Allow God to break your heart for Naghmeh. Because two years without Saeed is too long. Because God is able to bring him home. Let us stand together, clothed in sackcloth, asking God to break through the nightmare Saeed faces daily. Interceding for our President to take swift action to bring him back to his family. There is great unity in the body of Christ when we carry each others burdens like they are our own and come before the throne of the Father who hears and has great compassion.