Fasting Will Increase Our Love for Jesus and Intimacy with God
In graduate school, I had a class on marriage counseling. They gave us a stack of books to read. At the time, I was not engaged to Jennifer, (my now wife) but I was very interested. That helped keep my single mind interested on one of the books I remember reading by Gary Smalley. He wrote about “opening and closing” a person’s heart. He said a harsh word could close a person’s heart, while a listening ear and a kind smile could open a heart. He taught us that as husbands we could influence our spouse’s heart by understanding the “emotional banking system” and learning to invest in the love of our life.
The Bible tells us that God has made a big investment in our lives. Jesus came and built a relationship with humanity. In much the same way Dr. Gary Smalley invites us to listen, value and love our spouses and invest in those relationships – as God has already done that for us. The Gospel of Luke tells us of an elderly Jewish Woman who understood this principle and chose to invest her heart in God’s word and ways. She gave her time to prayer and fasting. God saw her heart and invested insight, a spiritual gift of seeing what He was going to do when she read the Bible. God revealed to her His plan of salvation, Jesus, before he was born. Listen to this:
Luke 2:36-38 (NIV) 36 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
When you and I understand relational investing, we begin to see that time with our child or spouse is like planting seed. You love and value them and later there is a harvest of a deeper relationship. When I was first learning this I tested this out on Jennifer. I wrote her love letters and talked on the phone. Anna of the Bible was in love with God. She fell in love with His heart and plan for humanity as outlined in scripture. She saw God in the words of the prophets. Her prayers and fasting were rewarded very literally by seeing God in her hands.
How would your life change if God’s word came to life in your hands today? I hope and pray, your fasting has deepened your love for God, but also those around you. Do you see how fasting is part of falling in love with God? I also hope you get a little “love sick” just as I was when I wrote letters to Jennifer and want to spend more days hungry for the love of your Heavenly Father. Who knows, you might even be inspired to write someone you love a love letter. Just a thought!
PRAY: “Lord, teach me how to lean into relational investments. God, who are the people in my life who need a deposit of love and hope? Lord, how can I invest my heart in You? Jesus said, where my treasure is my heart will follow. As I fast today, I am treasuring You. Grow my love for Your ways and You. In Jesus’ name. Amen”