What a kind and unsolicited compliment to be told by a close family member, she knows I am constantly praying for her and her family. Actually, I need to tell you more about her, she is my sister-in-law, married to my husband’s only sibling. I wasn’t always known to pray – in fact, she started praying for my spiritual life soon after we met! Now talk about a person who prays. But Linda Lees not only prays, she fasts as the Lord leads when there is a crisis or critical event with any of her family members or friends lives. I can say she has had more influence on my spiritual life than anyone else. And in her blog post “The Fast” I learned how to take on a 72 hour fast.
To be honest, I am not sure if she fasted for us as she does it in secret! But I know she pled with me and the Lord for restoration after I ended our 13 year marriage. So Linda’s concern for my spiritual life was valid. But let’s fast forward to today, or rather, last week. Linda and her daughter are leading a prayer and fasting event dedicated to a soon to be 11 year old precious child, Clara, and her family. Clara and her little sister (not as severely diseased) are suffering from an undiagnosed disease. They have tried everything, from diet changes, lifestyle changes, medical interventions to total genetic evaluations for the family. There is no hope left as they watch their once vibrant and active little girl become an invalid in just six or so short years. BUT we have HOPE for GOD to deliver a miracle! She is in an “undiagnosed disease” research group. But they have not been encouraging to the family.
How I decided I needed to fast
Enter my sister-in-law’s prayer time. She became burdened for Clara and her family in her prayer time. God “spoke” to her as He does, in His Word. She understood she needed to start fasting and praying for the family. While talking to her daughter, Rachel, they started a FaceBook group to pray and fast for Clara for her 11th birthday. It didn’t take much for me to join them as soon as I heard about it. I am now getting more involved as they need lots of prayer warriors and could use an extra hand with the technology – enter me!
My last post should have hinted that my husband and I are in uncharted waters, so to speak. My last post, The Wilderness, was prompted by an unexpected and unbelievable health issue (more to be disclosed eventually). Who doesn’t have a family member in a health crisis? I’m sure most can relate. And when is a better time to fast over troubling health issues? And now with the coronavirus, even more health concerns are being raised.
While we just lost Bill’s mom this past June, we were thankful my 96 year old mom was still in good health with a VERY sharp mind. But then she began to decline in August – and she just turned the corner to a very poor health condition. She was admitted to ICU on the Oncology ward last week, after her third ER visit in as many months or so. So I have been praying faithfully for her health for months. But it never entered my mind to fast. Maybe because mom is 96? It’s a hard question for me to answer.
BUT I have been seeking the Lord more than ever because of my family’s health issues. I felt the Lord called me to fast for my husband a few weeks ago. So I did a 24 hour fast. When I stopped it, I felt a nudge I should have continued. But that’s the most time I fast. With Bill’s heart health scare, his cardiologist (he is no longer a patient, btw) suggested us looking into interim fasting. So we basically began doing that as a daily habit. We fast from 8 pm until anywhere from 10 am to 12 noon the next day. We usually workout prior to eating. I’m sure many other people do this and don’t realize there are health benefits to it. Anyway, this new lifestyle since December 2016, makes it easy for me to fast – but I’ve never tried for longer than 24 hours.
I began to catch up to Clara’s Birthday Fasting and Prayer event posts. There are a number of either live videos and videos by her mom to help us learn about Clara’s journey. It is sad to learn how she went from a healthy and active 4 year old to an invalid as she approaches her 11th birthday. Linda’s posted video testimony about fasting. She shared about a five day fast she did for her mother, who was not a believer in Jesus. She died unexpectedly shortly afterwards, but not before Linda could travel to see her and share the gospel with her! Her mom asked her, “What must I do to be saved?” I’ll add that video later for you to watch. But first, PLEASE read her blog post The Fast. She is a Registered Nurse, so she knows about the health risks and benefits. I found her blog the best one to serve as my guidelines.
When I heard her testimony about her five day fast, I was a bit envious. Why couldn’t I do a three day fast – or even a five day fast? So I began to seek the Lord. If you are fasting for spiritual reasons, you want to pray over it and ask for the Lord’s guidance. It didn’t take long for me to commit to go on a 72 hour fast – four prong: For Clara, for my husband, then my mom’s admittance to the ICU and the Coronavirus sweeping the world! God will have to give me clear direction to go on a five day fast – I lost six pounds on the 72 hour fast – I don’t need to lose anymore weight! But then, my sister in law is very thin and somehow she does it and gains the weight back easily.
I can’t give enough praises to how wonderful my three days were. I was on a four day trip to be with my mom. I partially fasted on the six hour drive there. But I was concerned about my physical being – knowing all the stress I have been under since January 1 (when Bill began to have health concerns) and then my mom being in the ER on December 25, to being hospitalized for nine days and then she spent six weeks in Rehab. I went up for a week, thinking Bill was going to be OK. Sadly, he caught the flu while I was gone and was miserable until I could get home. Little did we know, the flu exacerbated his health issue. I vowed to never leave him alone again….oops, as they say, never say never….
It turned out, God made it VERY clear to start a fast early Saturday morning. I don’t remember what verses I read, but the three days or 72 hours became apparent. I had not eaten since 8 pm the night before – but I didn’t start counting my fast until 6 am when the Lord made it clear, I was to do this. First, is a bit of my spiritual journey leading me to know I needed to fast. And just a side note, I wasn’t sure how long I would fast.
My journey started as I began reading and studying Deuteronomy on March 10. What a GREAT book of the Bible. I know there is some redundancy from Numbers and a few other books – but if some thing is in the Bible more than one time, it’s because it is REALLY important! And then, if it was in the Old Testament and quoted in the New Testament it was also REALLY important! Here are the key verses that led to my journey to see my mom on Friday, March 13 (I am not superstitious) and then subsequently to fast:
March 10 – I began reading and studying Deuteronomy, starting with the first two chapters. Oh how I love history and this sets the tone for a lot of history lessons. What I learned (again) was God was trying to teach Israel to have FAITH and to TRUST Him! These were my notes after doing some research, which focuses on FAITH and to TRUST God:
Deuteronomy has two purposes 1) to remember the past 2) to prepare for the future! First, the verse about how an 11 day journey it takes to walk from Egypt to Canaan (the promised land) – but it took them 40 years, two generations! That in itself is remarkable. God was trying to teach them to have FAITH AND TO TRUST Him. The Jews hear this history time and time again – have they learned yet? This is why I love Israel – I can relate! What have I learned? I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior at age 9. Like the Israelites, I have had to learn through the school of hard knocks. Anyway, it’s notable that Jesus really knew this book. When satan tempted him three times, all the quotes Jesus gives him are from Deuteronomy.
March 11 – I read Chapters 3 & 4. In essence, just a glimpse at what the chapters were and what God was showing me:
Remembering God’s past faithfulness is key to present and future victory.
This made me go back and remember all the times God showed up to help my in my darkest hours. Mainly, how He restored our marriage. Then the summer of 1999 was the darkest summer. My very dear brother-in-law, Steve, who was really like a big bother to me died unexpectedly of a heart attack at age 52. Sadly, while this happened, my dad was on his death bed. Steve had a HUGE presence wherever he went. EVERYONE loved him and his sense of humor. I’ve never seen a funeral home with so many flowers….no one knew the huge impact he had on so many lives! I was “daddy’s little girl” so losing him was devasting. He was a relatively healthy independent living man of 76. He died from undiagnosed cancer of the bladder. It could have easily been “cured” but the medical profession just didn’t get it right in his case. As despondent as I was, God kept doing special things to remind me He was there.
March 12 – I read Deuteronomy 5 through 7. While there was so much else good to read, I loved the repeat of the 10 commandments. The one that spoke OUT LOUD to me was:
Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. Deuteronomy 5:16
I am truly in the “sandwich” generation. My husband needed me to help him adapt to his health condition as he awaits surgery. My mom was taken to the ER and subsequently admitted to ICU March 11. I wanted to go be with her and my sister needed help. Mom is legally blind and needs extra help with virtually everything as her health is declining. My sister spent 24 hours with her and needed a break….I prayed all day and finally, just decided I had to go. I had to give Bill to God, faith and trust, and KNOW Bill would be OK.
March 13 – I read Deuteronomy 8 – 10. The two verses that really spoke to me were:
“And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that MAN DOES NOT LIVE BY BREAD ALONE, but man LIVES BY EVERY WORD THAT COMES FROM THE MOUTH OF THE LORD.” Deuteronomy 8:3 (my emphasis in CAPS)
“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul….” Deuteronomy 10:12
I am not Jewish, but my Christian faith tells me I am now adopted by God into His family. His first love is Israel, the Jewish people. I LOVE God’s Word. I have studied and read the entire Bible numerous times, but started a daily reading habit in 2004. My sister-in-law started her daily Bible reading habit when she turned 30 – it took me a while to really see the benefit in her life! Anyway, I love the Israelites and I identify with their struggling walk with Him. Oh how they struggle – in fact, did you know Israel means “wrestle with God” because that was what Jacob did that one fateful night? He literally wrestled with God and was renamed Israel – to whom the nation became known as. Well, as I read about troubling things they kept doing over and over, putting other things ahead of God instead of keeping Him #1, I say that is me, too. So I prayed this fast would help me draw closer to the Lord as I prayed and fasted for these dear people and our nation – the coronavirus!
I KNEW I needed to make a new spiritual commitment to the Lord after studying this particular book at this particular time! I have so many faults. My husband affectionally calls me “Little Larry” after my dad. He had a bit of an explosive temperament. And so do I. It’s a constant battle to keep it under control! I’ve been trying to tame it for 45 years – it was through my marriage that it became most apparent to me. And I have the most laid back husband – and he has to put up with my periodic outbursts. How can I be this way? I love and serve the Lord! I am a Child of the King. But I am human. We all are.
…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:23-24
There is no one perfect in this world – only afterwards for those of us who choose to follow Jesus – and gain Eternal life in heaven!
Success! It was easy for me to do. I already eat a “whole foods” diet, no sugar and very little processed food – no junk food at all! We just eat fresh fruit, fresh and some frozen vegetables and lean meat. And WATER! I start drinking it as soon as I wake up – about 72 ounces a day. I touched base with Linda as I started my fast. I wanted her to walk along side me as her post recommends. She recommended I drink one cup of black coffee (that’s all I drink anyway) a day if I needed it to help my “plumbing” system. I did and it did. I had a headache start a few times – I read when that happens, it is time to STEP UP your prayers. I did, as soon as I focused back on the LORD and my prayers, they were gone.
Temptations. I was with my mom during much of my fast. Mom has never bought into my new lifestyle where we don’t eat desserts. We were a family that had dessert every night. She is always trying to get me to eat with her – which I do when I can get something without sugar and is “whole” food style. So now I am in charge of cutting up her food and helping her eat. Her Friday dinner came with a huge double chocolate brownie! She said it was way too big, for me to help her eat it. I haven’t eaten anything like that for years – but it was a former weakness. I took a bite and then knew, I have to go on a fast! So I helped her with the rest of her meals (my daughter did her breakfast Saturday morning). Mom’s appetite is way down, so she couldn’t eat much. She kept telling me to help her eat the food so it won’t go to waste. I was amazed at how easy it became to not even be tempted!
And finally, the most important, was my endurance. Linda reported some weakness in her blog post. She reminded me to not expend too much energy. Well, I was so blessed to have a few hours with my grandsons while my daughter was with mom (I arrived at her bedside at 3 pm and stayed with her until Jessica received me around 2 pm). My son-in-law helped my sister move a lot of mom’s items from her apartment into her home. Mom couldn’t live independently any longer. I run and keep in shape so I can keep up with my grandsons, now 4 1/2 and 6 1/2. They love to run! So I took them to a nature park with a playground. I have to keep up with them! No problem! Oh so much joy being with them!
The next day, Sunday, was perhaps the biggest answer to prayer – President Trump declared it a National Day of Prayer!!! I had prayed what can be done with this all consuming media coverage of the Coronavirus? President Trump admitted the only thing left to do was PRAY!!!!
More answers – My husband survived, mom was released and we moved my mom to my sister’s home. These were two huge accomplishments and not possible with prayer support. Mom had double pneumonia on top of her COPD and lung cancer.
Clara and the Lusk Family: We only know they are feeling the love and support by us preparing for this event. They live in California so much of this is all “virtual” except by the power of the Holy Spirit! They know God is at work. Several of us are already fasting and praying fervently for them.
More endurance – I was with mom Sunday, March 15, from 5 am until 4 pm. We turned on the TV for a few minutes and learned the President had declared this day a National Day of Prayer! That news brought me to tears! Mom loves watching Charles Stanley when she can’t attend church, so we then watched him. What a great sermon. She managed to listen to it and then the nurse came in to administer her meds. And then it was nap time! I planned to spend the night with mom again. BUT guess what? The coronavirus is now impacting us personally (actually everyone in the USA is now being impacted). I was NOT allowed to spend the night! Actually, I wasn’t supposed to spend Saturday night but I begged the nurse and she got a waiver for me. Now it was out of their hands. It was coming from the Feds. NO VISITORS in hospitals is now happening nationwide. Calm came over me in spite of how upsetting this was. I had to assure mom she would be OK. She has not been alone at night since December 25 (nurses who checked in on her). In fact, she finally told us as she was being released from Rehab to her own apartment, she did not want to be alone overnight – so she had a CNA with her every night. I also assured mom I would be back at 7 am – when visitor hours start back up. But guess what, they didn’t tell me when I left, I would not be allowed back in! Oh the pain! But I had to trust God. He knew what was best for us.
Monday it was time to go home. Now that I wasn’t visiting mom, I could devote time to help my sister as she overcame huge hurdles to get mom moved in. She had to convert her guest room into a hospital room with all the necessary equipment. I ran a number of errands for her and mom. I had so much energy and faced a six hour drive home. Could I continue the fast? That morning, I read a devotional based upon 1 Kings 13. In essence God sent a prophet on a mission. And he told him to not eat for three days. Sadly, the prophet was deceived and ate – and then he died. OK, now I knew I was going for three days. I was fasting until Tuesday morning! I was up at 4 am then left for home at 12:45 pm. I arrived home a little before 7 pm. I stopped for one cup of black coffee as I got a little drowsy. That did the trick! It was great to be home.
Tuesday morning, time to break my fast. Linda warned me to be careful what I ate. I looked up suggestions. Basically, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables (ideally a tomato/cucumber salad) and yogurt. I had fresh cantaloupe first. It tasted so fresh. Then a 1/2 cup of unsweetened Greek Yogurt – adding organic unsweetened frozen blueberries. Oh so good again. An hour later, I had a grapefruit. I had to start running errands again….so by 10 am I was ready for my regular breakfast. I seemed to be back to normal!
I am not sure what my future holds as far as fasting. But now I know I can easily fast and travel. I will be doing a lot of that soon. But what I hope and pray is that my Lord has my undivided attention! How I pray I am the willing clay for Him to mold me into His faithful servant to be used as He needs on this earth. We are not promised tomorrow, so I want to make sure I do all I can today to serve Him!
If you are interested in joining us in prayer, post a comment and I will provide more information.