As 2016 begins, so do resolutions and expectations for the future. Fasting during the month of January is one of the many rituals in Christian society, but fasting should be a lifestyle throughout the year.
A large portion of the Christian community commits to fast for the first 21 days of January in order to start the new year with a fresh mind, body and spirit, but people choose to fast for their own reasons.
“Prayer grabs onto the power of heaven; fasting loosens the hold of earthly pleasures,” said Tim Cameron, author and former director of ORU admissions and financial aid. “Jesus taught us to fast because there are times when some things can only be broken by additional intimacy with Christ and the power that comes from fasting.”
Cameron recently released his book titled “The Forty-Day Word Fast: A Spiritual Journey,” based off his own 40-day fast.
He said most Christians decide to fast out of desperation to see the power of God break strongholds in their lives or the lives of others.
“Sometimes you have to do something unusual, extraordinary and beyond the norm to see breakthrough,” Cameron said. “Fasting is a supernatural combination when mixed with prayer. Some things take prayer and fasting. There is no other way around it.”
ORU students frequently choose to prioritize a time of fasting after they return from break, despite their demanding lifestyles. They aim to fully commit to the Lord, ready to begin the new semester refreshed.
“I fast for guidance,” said junior Michelle Burciaga, who aims to participate in the Daniel Fast every year. “It’s a new year and I want to allow the Lord to take me to places this year that I’ve never been before, and fasting helps me humble myself and allow the Lord to step in.”
Cameron says in the midst of fasting, it is easy to lose sight of the purpose, quickly making fasting an idol rather than a commitment to seek intimacy with the Lord.
“We miss the mark when we fast for the wrong purpose: weight or to be seen as religious,” Cameron said. “Fasting can become an idol when we do it without prayer. Fasting and prayer must be done together. If you fast and you don’t have time to pray, you should not fast.”
When the perspective behind fasting shifts from seeking intentional intimacy with the Lord to focusing on personal gain, its purpose becomes stale and fruitless.
“Fasting is sending a message to the Lord,” Cameron said. “I want to sacrifice my flesh, put the Spirit first and send a sweet aroma to [Him] that catches [His] attention.”
No matter what month is devoted to fasting, at the end, students express to the Lord their willingness to follow His will rather than their own.
“I do this because I want the Lord to know that this year I’m determined to be led by Him,” Burciaga said. “And when I fast I’m more sensitive to hear His voice, so I spend time asking Him what He desires from me this year. I make note of what He says and I work hard during the year to make His desires my desires.”
Although most people choose January, this isn’t the only month reserved for fasting. To learn more about the depths of rekindling relationship with the Lord, check out Cameron’s “Forty Day Word Fast” now available on Amazon.