by Dana Candler
Fasting on a weekly basis might be for many a new idea…if not a disturbing idea. Why disturbing? We have preconceived ideas and perhaps past experiences that have left us on the skeptical side of how this really works as a lifestyle. Yet it must be made clear from the start that this sort of fasting routine requires and mandates a very essential element in you and me, a necessary ingredient that must be incorporated into the mix for all to work as intended. Simply said, this crucial component is DESIRE. The heart holds the central affections and passions that drive us from day to day and unless love is the push behind our motivation, unless desire for Jesus is that which fuels our fasting, we will end in burn out and disillusionment over time.
When Jesus said, “Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast,” He opened up an invitation to mourn and long and fast out of a heart that misses Him, desires His nearness and longs for His Return (Matt. 9:15). He described a day that He would be taken from us, the Bridegroom would be taken away, and in His delay the friends of the Bridegroom would mourn for Him…would long and ache for His return. Jesus predicted what would seem normal in those days for those who love and miss the Bridegroom—fasting consistently out of a perpetual desire for Him. In our day, our role to play is not ambiguous or uncertain but very clear and evident. The eyes of Jesus are searching for friends who love Him so deeply that they do more than just ascribe faith in Him, they actually live their days in an incessant longing for His Return.
We fast with a twofold longing, a dual desire. First, we groan for Jesus’ Return and second, we desire to experience His manifest love and presence now. Fasting for the Bridegroom plays a joint role of expressing our mourning and discontentment with Jesus’ absence while simultaneously sensitizing us to His presence by the Holy Spirit. Through this yearning for Jesus through fasting—our hearts become enlarged to experience His divine love and presence.
Such a lifestyle of fasting, coupled always with the tenderness of prayer, is also the place of preparation—the place where voices of authority are formed in the fires of refinement and the place of encounter. Thus, desire for Jesus leads to fasting, fasting enlarges our hearts for greater experience of Him, and these greater encounters of Jesus lead to a yearning for His Return coupled with a true authority to speak of Him and make Him known to others. Truly, this lifestyle of consistent fasting, fueled by desire, is our gift to embrace. As we do this over time, experience of the Lord will give way to greater longing for Him and we will become gripped by His love, eager for His Return, and equipped to prepare others to receive and respond to Him in fullness.