There are times in our lives that God calls us to go deeper with him, so he can change us and form us even more into who he created us to be in Christ. One of those ways is by fasting. It denies your flesh of the worldly desires and brings a focus more on the Lord.
A month ago, God revealed to me through a dream that I was to do a Daniel Fast. After talking with Jeff about fasting and hoping he would be on board as well, he decided to join me, but with a twist. He suggested we do a family media fast as well, something to get the kids involved in fasting. I was totally on board after hearing that. Fasting would not be easy, and the media fast would be tough, especially for the kids. I could tell my children needed a break from media and our entertainment focused culture. We needed to reconnect with our children, quit letting entertainment babysit them, and be a relational family. So, Jeff and I embarked on our three week Daniel fast, and joined the kids in a month long media fast, which meant no use of television, video games, phones, devices, or computers for entertainment.
So, just imagine kids in the winter with no media. How would they handle it, stuck in the house bored? Yup, exactly that. They were bored! Since it was our desire to connect with our children, we decided spend as much time as possible, nearly every night, with the kids. It was hard at first, with our children looking to us to entertain them. They lacked some creativity, but we were all connecting. We enjoyed playing board games, getting into the hot tub together, and playing other games around the house. One night, we had gone to the library, picked up some books, and came home. Jeff and I sat on the couch, the kids in various places, and we all read our books. Jeff and I looked at each other, amazed at the scene. It was relatively quiet, the kids were engrossed in their books and no one was whining or complaining. Once in a while, one of them would excitedly share what they were reading. We continued to challenge the kids day after day, that it wasn’t our job to entertain them if they were bored. Eventually, they caught on and became more creative, and began spending more time in relationship with each other and their friends. All it took was some yielding to the Lord, a click of a button, and our will to want to change. The resulting change was affecting our family.
Before our fast, Jeff and I would switch on the tv for an hour or so when the kids went to bed, get our fix in, and then go to bed. This scene played out nearly every evening. It wasn’t uncommon to have the tv on or our phones in our faces, especially on the weekends, just to fill the gaps of time with entertainment and busyness. But during the fast, this all changed. The sermons at church encouraging us to administer our lives proved helpful as we re-evaluated our schedules and found more and more time to spend with the Lord, each other, and our family. There were many nights that Jeff and I put the kids to bed then sat down and just talked. We talked about lots of things: our quiet times, our plans, what the Lord was showing us, our ministries, and our hopes and prayers. We opened up to each other like never before. I never knew that existed. Jeff once said that he was never a talker, but now I know that’s not so true. He’s a talker now! We have found a new love for the Word of God and his presence.
Now that our fast ended, we haven’t thrown ourselves back into our old way of doing things, even though the kids may have been hoping so! We saw the fruit of relationship within our family. Jeff and I saw the fruit of growing closer to the Lord. So, we’ve decided as a family that our media fast will continue, but with some minor tweaks, to allow some limited weekend media entertainment.
As we reflected on our fast, it reminded us that God made us to be relational, not just with other believers, but especially as families. Jesus showed us a great example of relationship. He chose 12 men to pour his life into. He taught them and modeled the love of God, spending time with them. They became his family. These men went with him, into the crowds, caring for people and bringing heaven to earth. When Jesus did take time away from his disciples and others, it was time spent with the Father. He was filled up with the Father’s love and it overflowed into his disciples and the crowds around him. He didn’t seek entertainment or his own pleasure. He sought the Father’s heart.
Have you ever felt stuck in a rut of living day to day? Jeff and I did. We felt stuck in a routine that wasn’t healthy for us as parents, disciples, or leaders. We were going to entertainment for our joy instead of the Lord. Our desire for entertainment was self-centered and led us to sacrificing time as a family. The quick fix from entertainment seemed easier than digging into the Bible and building our relationships with the Lord. The result was temporary satisfaction and left us wanting something more. God knew our hearts and what was best for us and prompted us to fast. Obedience was required and so we obeyed. It was time for a change.
Is it time for you to make a change? Do you want a deeper relationship with the Lord, your family, and your friends? Well, what’s stopping you? What’s holding you back? Is there something the Lord is asking you to fast or give up? Will you obey? What are you willing to sacrifice in order to partner with the Lord and see the change he desires for you. In return for your sacrifice, you’ll receive a much richer, fuller life and find the joy you are looking for.
Michelle & Jeff Hughes
Connect Group Ministry Leaders