Persistence and Perseverance. God always shows up and shows out when I press in with intentionality. Twice a year I press in along-side my church family as we pray and fast. If you’ve never fasted, don’t waste your time questioning it, just do it! Pick something that you value, that’s pleasurable, that you do everyday, and stop. We see fasting many times throughout the Bible. The most prominent fasting period being that which was recorded when Moses produced The Ten Commandments (Exodus).
Moses was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant–the Ten Commandments.Exodus 34:28
This year, in January of 2020, I fasted with my home church. My church was praying collectively, led by our pastor, for this year to be the year of God encounters.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:6-7
Wow. I could just stop right there, being just a little over four months into 2020. I won’t though. I want to tell you a little more about the return of prayers when fasting…
This year, just two days after twenty-one days of prayer and fasting ended with my church, I was woken up at 2:30 a.m. and knew with everything in me that I had to pry myself out of bed and go spend time with Jesus three hours before I intended to get up. oofh. The struggle was real. That morning was one of the most significant moments of clarity I have ever had to date. The other happened during twenty-one days of prayer and fasting right before my wedding, now, eight years ago. I am so thankful I was obedient that morning and got out of bed to hear God’s whisper. That morning in a moment between prayer and scripture, He whispered “it’s been a decade of transformation.” My mind froze. Had it been a decade? How am I even old enough to have been doing a single thing for a decade? After all, I have only lived three decades in my lifetime. How could it have possibly taken me ten years to do any one thing?
The Holy Spirit very softly whispered back to the depths of my spirit, “becoming the woman I need you to be.”
Ten years… it took ten years of growth. Or did it take ten years for me to get a message? Had I missed a repeated sign? Ten years? Really? Ten years…. hmm. I began to ponder on twenty-two year old Danielle. Twenty-two year old Danielle thought she was a woman and enough for anything and everything that could come her way. She had lived a lot of life and overcome more than most in her twenty-two years of life. Now, I wasn’t clueless, I knew I didn’t have all answers, but I did know that I was able and capable of doing any job and getting anywhere I needed. As I stepped out of my college years and landed my “dream job” (of that time), I believed with everything in me, I had made it! Life was good, and it was only going to get better. I had the man of my dreams, graduated from the college of my dreams, got out of my hometown, landed a job before graduation, had been making it for some time on my own. I had checked all the boxes on my goal list. I fully believed in myself. I think that was the most beautiful part of 22 year old Danielle; she believed in herself. She was a get her hands dirty, all in, go for it, pull yourself up by your bootstraps kind of girl. Her favorite color was pink. Elle Woods inspired her, because she related to her; she believed she could, so she did.
At twenty-two I suffered date rape, with my paternal family’s creed down my side in Gaelic, “Buaidh No Bas” which translates “victory or death” or “to conquer or die,” and my favorite verse at that time was Joshua 1:9. Twenty-two year old Danielle was a survivor, a warrior.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God goes with you wherever you go.Joshua 1:9
I am certain if you examine the last ten years of your life you can say the same. I’m not going to take you down my timeline. I simply wanted to share that I have to take a deep breath and think really hard to even remotely bring that girl back to mind. Time just keeps turning, life events keep happening, and as we unveil new life experiences and evolve with every gift God has for us in this life, we eventually find ourselves far from that previous version of ourselves. I love her, but she is far in my rearview mirror. Some of you reading this article, I know, have many decades between you and the twenty-two years of age version of yourself. But take a moment and reflect on who you were at ten years ago.
What has God done for you in this last decade?
What have you learned?
How have you transformed?
Most of us have survived more pain than we want to admit, and most more than we will ever let anyone know. We have all made hard choices and been put in terrible situations. If you are reading this then you survived, and are on this journey becoming the person God always intended you to be with blessings in store He has yet to unveil. We all have to walk through the fire at some point. I did literally in 2011. We all have to get in rare form at some point in our lives, to be melted down, in order to be forged into the warrior He has always intended us to be. We are all warriors, and with Christ we are conquerors, because “the victory belongs to Jesus.” He has already won. We survived to use it to point people back to Him, because He has more for us to do before we go home. Our stories are meant to be shared. We are meant to live life in the light!
It’s a journey. It takes learning and growth to reach the destination. We are born into this world to experience, to love, to learn, to grow. That’s what changed me; His love – grace-filled, romantic, deep, profound, father-like love. He never stopped pursuing me. It was always intended for this life to be based around relationship. God brought us into existence, made in His image, to have companionship with Him, to live a life of relationship, to walk in the garden with Him. Life was always meant to be a journey where we lived in relationship with our Creator. When the “fall” happened (when Eve ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil) we were separated from God’s intent of our lives here on Earth. However, we were never separated from Him, but, now it takes pursuit. It takes intentionality. Then, Jesus came and made that easier than ever before. And, in addition to his sacrifice that pays for our sins, Jesus left us the greatest gift, the Holy Spirit, which mends that separation. He gave us the ability to walk in the garden like Adam and Eve, the ability to basque in God’s presence and have a relationship with Him.
Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character; and character, hopeRomans 5:1-4
We are born into this world separated from God. The beauty of the life journey is for each of us to find our way back to God. His plan is for us to experience His beautiful creation, relationally connect with others around us, and the ultimate goal, the one that brings a smile to your Heavenly Father’s face, is to shed that sinful nature. How do you do that? By keeping the holy part of you (your spirit) nourished and first. Keeping our spirit nourished and prioritized is how we continue to look more and more like Jesus everyday. We do this by spending time in relationship with God, pursuing Him in prayer and reading the Word. He speaks through His Word. Keeping our spirit first and at the forefront of your being is why fasting produces such supernatural fruit, in short, because through prayer and fasting we quiet our bodies and minds, where we can better hear our spirit as it communicates with Holy Spirit.
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.John 14:26-27
Here we are in May of 2020, just a few short months after one of the largest groups of believers in the United States followed the charge of our pastor to pray earnestly spirit-first for a year of God encounters, and life as we knew it has come to a pause. If ever there was a time for a God encounter, COVID-19 has created the perfect space for it to happen, even for non-believers. Why? Because we have all been isolated from some of our greatest distractions. We’ve stopped shopping, because we are slowed down enough to see the need, and with many people without jobs, those of us that are still financially stable are transforming habits from consuming to donating. For those of us working and our children are out of school, we are using all of our time providing and caring for our families. There has been a cultural shift in the matter of two months that is cultivating the perfect space for spiritual alignment, balance in the way the Bible says we should steward our time, and we are finding ourselves forced into healthier behaviors and habits (i.e. more cooking and less eating out). The change that has taken place for the majority of the nation has been scary in many ways, but from where I am sitting, seems to have been a necessity. I do not think God created this virus, but I certainly think He is using it for good and His glory.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.Isaiah 41:10
I say all of this to say, do not take this season for granted. it’s a season of radical, supernatural, miraculous transformation. Don’t miss it. Pray and fast. Make your list of petitions, spend time in the Word and with the LORD, and watch God work. Dare to ask. Dare to be. Dare to truly live. There has never been a better time to seek God’s face and favor.
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.Isaiah 43:18
…I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions….So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.Ezra 8:21-23
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:Isaiah 58:6
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
This spiritual discipline of fasting and praying was important in the Old Testament, impactful in the New Testament, and is still a powerful way to approach God on a deeper level.Becky at So Very Blessed