Several years ago, a dear friend of mine gave up chocolate. She was like an older sister to me. I thought she was crazy for forgoing chocolate. She decided that she was going to fast chocolate until she met her husband. This girl loved her chocolate, and she would feel the sacrifice. She was going to use the desire to eat the yummy treat as a reminder to pray for her future husband. I probably tapped her on the back and said, “Good for you. I hope you feel like it’s worthwhile when all is said and done!”
A couple years later, I helped her pack for her honeymoon the night before her wedding. She was giddy and overjoyed to marry the man she loved so much. I had met him for the first time at the rehearsal dinner (since we lived states away) and I was amazed by how God answered her diligent, persistent prayers. She totally prayed for this man and I was amazed at how specifically God answered in her husband to be.
At the marriage ceremony the next day I sensed the Holy Spirit pressing upon my heart to do a chocolate fast of my own. I wanted to plug my spiritual ears and pretend that I didn’t hear that divine instruction (because I really liked to be able to eat chocolate)! However, I was curious to see how God might use this fast in my own life. The chocolate cupcake served to me at their wedding reception was the last taste of chocolate I had before I got married. I was one month shy of going 5 years without chocolate.
A funny little side story takes place at a picnic at the beach near the Balboa Pier in Newport Beach. My husband and I were on our third date. He had prepared a pretty sophisticated dinner using his backpacking stove. When it came time for us to have dessert, I could tell he was especially excited. He pulled out fresh strawberries and chocolate. I was cringing inside because I knew I needed to hold to my fast, but I already really liked him and didn’t want to be rude. He proceeded to melt the chocolate in fondue fashion and as he prepared the strawberries for dipping, I had to tell him. I said that I was on a chocolate fast and I would normally be ecstatic about the dessert he made, but I can only eat the strawberries. He looked at me intrigued. Of course, he asked what I didn’t want him to ask, “Why are you fasting chocolate?” I told him that I didn’t feel at liberty to share, but that I was excited to have some yummy strawberries. Fast forward about a year. We were driving somewhere and he told me that he still didn’t know why I was fasting it, but he told me that he wanted to join in and pray for me as I continued my fast. Several months later, he proposed and asked me about the fast. I finally told him and he was, of course, delighted. We broke the fast together the day after we got married… with chocolate dipped strawberries on the balcony of our hotel room.
I share these stories with you to share my own experience of God answering prayers and I share to encourage you to take up the discipline of fasting. The main point is to not feel condemnation or pressure to fast a certain amount of time or way. Be gentle with yourself as you learn and grow in the fasting discipline. The goal is to grow in your yearning for the Lord and to be drawn into His presence even more often than normal because of the repeated reminder that we need Him. Whatever it is that we are fasting: food, time, finances, talking, media, whatever it may be – we are meant to draw near to Him with a sincere heart.
As you seek to dig deeper into the discipline of fasting, here are some resources that might be helpful to you:
- Gospel for Asia Resources:
- Cru has an excellent overview to fasting:
- John Piper and his ministry, Desiring God, has a treasure chest of biblical wisdom:
- Derek Prince Ministries:
- Going Beyond Ministries:
I would encourage you to read all you can from the Word (search fasting at www.biblegateway.com) and meditate on His Word. Remember this is not a legalistic exercise; it’s a relationship strengthening discipline. His love is so GREAT towards us!
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousnesswill go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.” Isaiah 58:6-9