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Howdy Strong Mamas!
I do not know a single, Christian mama who does not yearn for her children to live a life devoted to Christ. To raise kids who are successful adults, and who are grateful, brave, gentle, wise and slayers of sin in their lives and the lives of others. Often we pray, talk to our children, teach them about the Word of God and the ways of the world. We warn, love, care and discipline. We do this because our deepest desire is that our children would live lives of passionate faith and be successful adults. As mamas, we know in our hearts that if our children had a need we would go through hell and high water to meet it. We would seek out any resource so that we could care for our babies.
But are we doing that spiritually?
One of the greatest weapons I believe many mothers overlook is the weapon of fasting. I know many mothers who have never fasted for their children.
This is a mistake. But one that is easily remedied!
There was a time when my kids were little and we were missionaries that I fasted regularly for them. But over the years I have lost that discipline. Honestly, now I struggle so greatly to fast for my kids. The second I turn my heart to “afflict my soul with fasting” the temptation for whatever I am giving up becomes so great I usually give in within a couple of hours. I am now a weak faster. If “every fast is a test” as John Piper says (and you can find an incredible resource on fasting here), then I have failed hundreds of times. Hundreds. Of. Times.
But I’m not giving up. The Bible says that we can “encourage ourselves” and that is what this post is meant to do. To spur you, and I, onto pursuing fasting: this weapon that is largely overlooked by, well… almost everyone.
I love this verse from Ezra 8:21-22. He called a fast for a safe journey for their little ones. That resonates with me. You see, my kids have a long way to go until they are home safe, and to me that means securely in the arms of the Savior. More than anything I want them safe from pre-marital sex, pornography, addictions of all kinds, drug-use, pride, hard-heartedness, rebellion, sexual abuse, depression, anxiety, materialism, workaholism… the list goes on and on. The world can sometimes be an ugly place and the enemy we face is real. He is not interested in cutting out the legs from under my kids, he desires nothing less than their total obliteration. Practically speaking this means his goal is not to just get my kids to look at porn. His goal is to infect their entire legacy with this addiction so he can not only have their marriage but also the lives of their children… my grandchildren!
I know that “prayer can do anything God can do.” (E.M. Bounds) But prayer is not the only weapon made available to me to gain access to God. Christ fully expects me to fast because he says in Matthew 6:16, “WHEN you fast.” Fasting should be a crucial part of every Strong Mamas life for one simple reason: it allows us to make much of God. It makes us put all of our longings for the world aside and focus on the highest thought any mother can have: Jesus Christ.
Another key reason to fast? It makes our voice, “heard on high” (Isaiah 58:4). Look, there are just some things we see in our kids’ lives that we can’t break through with prayer alone. There are bad influences, poor learning habits, addictions, arrogance, and any other number of issues that we just can’t fix. Does your heart ache for anything for your child right now? Have you tried everything you can think of? I encourage you to try a fast, perhaps several. It is through fasting that we say to Christ, “You are more important than anything else in my life, even food. Even my iPhone. Even Netflix, fashion magazines, work, caffeine, nicotine or sugar. And Lord, I need to hear from You. I need you to break through in this area of my child’s life because I know You hold all answers, all solutions. You are the Consequence-Keeping God. And I am lost with out you.”
Fasting is actually feasting. When I am fasting I am feasting on God and His presence. One of my favorite quotes is from Richard Foster in his book, Celebration of Discipline,
“Fasting helps us keep our balance in life. How easily we begin to allow nonessentials to take precedence in our lives. How quickly we crave things we do not need until we are enslaved by them.”
It is through fasting that I am reminded that food does not sustain me. God does.
It is through fasting that I am reminded I do not hold the solutions to my child’s problems. God does.
It is through fasting that I am reminded I do not hold my child’s future. God does.
Fasting reminds me to surrender to the fact that my kids are not my own and everything I want for them is found in the hands of Jesus Christ. I desire for my children to make good friends, to have a healthy relationship with food, to be life-long learners, to be confident individuals of character and integrity… mostly I want them to be passionate about Jesus.
I can guarantee none of this. But I have access to the One Who Can.
I have found in my former fasts that I am so intent on Christ, so focused on Him, that it is easier to hear Him. When I fast answers and insight come into the lives of my kids, areas of pain are healed, things in their life that are clouded become filled with clarity, revelation about where the enemy is going to attack next often comes to light, sin in my kids’ lives is revealed, and often, sin in my own life is brought to the surface.
Christ uses even my feeble fasting in powerful ways. I have shared in other posts that some of my kids have ADHD. One child in particular has had severe learning differences his whole life. He was riddled with anxiety, had significant delays and was frail in his desire to learn. When he was in the 1st grade they told us he would never be a great student, that if he, “could just read and write you should be happy.” They said he should not waste his time learning a second language because his brain, “only has so much space. Fill it with math instead.” I was counseled by a professional when he was in 4th grade that his anxiety was so bad I should put him on anti-psychotic medication. I wish I could say that I did not believe those things about my son. I wish I could proudly hold my head high and say I was that mama that said, “To hell with y’all! My boy can do all things through Christ who strengthens him! You wait! He’ll show you.”
But I wasn’t.
I was the terrified mama. The arrogant, shallow, weak, vapid mama that thought my son’s innate weaknesses made me look foolish. The one horrified that my child wasn’t perfect and that he would have to struggle for the rest of his life. I was the mama of very little faith. I look back on her and I am embarrassed.
But I was taught by good Bible-Believing mentors that this God I adored delighted in a few things. Things like prayer, tithing, worship… and fasting. So I began to fast regularly for my child. And can I tell you there was no change in our circumstances for many years? There was, however, incredible change in 2 key areas: my heart and his heart. I began to be that mama that believed in him. I began to see his many gifts and encourage him in ways I had not before. Somehow, even with 5 little ones running around I had time to read about how to help him and put systems into place. I overcame the guilt that somehow his disability was my fault and killed that source of shame in my life. By being close to Jesus through fasting, He somehow conquered my anxiety about my son’s future and I was finally able to release him to God (I still try to take him back from time to time but Jesus is always there to remind me the boy is His!). Most of all, I began to believe that Christ was in control of his life and designed him just the way He wanted him. His learning differences were not a mistake, they were by design. I came to realize that God had a magnificent plan for my son’s life. This belief changed everything. God changed everything. But it only came through fasting.
And my child…. my son…. oh man….
He began to respond to the positive change in me. Even though he struggled, our relationship deepened. We became very close and the systems we were putting in place actually helped him. I can tell you, though the road has been long and hard, today his anxiety is still an issue but no longer crippling. He is an A-B student. He excels at Spanish. Loves soccer. Makes friends pretty easily. One thing I can say of this kid: no matter how difficult his academic life is EVERY SINGLE DAY HE SHOWS UP TO THE WORK AND GIVES ALL HE HAS. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. He is incredible. Every day of school requires as much energy for him as when you and I took the SAT, and still he perseveres. He is strong. Durable. Intelligent. Obedient. Respectful. He’s got moxy and grit.
The boy is a beast.
But I didn’t see any of this transition until I made fasting a priority.
Fast forward a few years later and I’ve gotten lazy. The past miracles (and there are more but then this post would be 10,000 words long) became a drowsy memory and I became forgetful. It’s human nature I suppose, and I’m surely human. But I want to return to this discipline. What might I be missing by passing on fasting? What help for my kids am I shunning by overlooking this discipline? What blessing could flow through this gift of feasting on His presence rather than food? My prayer is that the Lord would strengthen you and I to engage this space. You pray for me, ok? I’ll pray for you, too. If we are strong mamas, as we desire to be, then this is a resource we need to explore. Or in my case, re-explore….
Because there is just so much more mothering left to do, the stakes are so high and we really need all of God we can get, right?
We need all of God we can get.
Stay Strong, DJ