17 days and counting...
Think about the preparations you are making for Christmas. Decorating your home inside and out, trimming the tree, baking delicious, aromatic treats to share with family and friends, listening to Christmas music and watching the classic Christmas TV shows. It all creates a beautiful, festive atmosphere and keeps us focused on Christmas because we see, hear, smell, taste, and touch Christmas all day long. It engages all of our senses for a very holistic and sometimes overwhelming experience. We are not likely to forget that it is Christmas time.
In the same way we need to prepare ourselves for the experience of fasting. We need to create a supportive environment that will help us to stay focused on prayer and fasting and the things of God. How do we do that? Think of the senses again.
SEEING: What will you read and watch during your time of fasting? Does it matter? It really does. Philippians 4:8
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is
right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things."
That's a pretty tall order, and cuts out most of what we see on TV or the internet... I'm just sayin'. I'm not necessarily saying that you shouldn't watch TV at all during your fast, that is something you need to decide for yourself. What I am saying is that is it a time to be especially selective in our viewing. This also applies to reading material. While I'm fasting I only read books that focus either on an aspect of my spiritual life that I want to improve, or deal with some aspect of worship or the Christian life. I want to stay focused. Make it a matter of prayer as you prepare for your fast.
HEARING: What music do you listen to? I listen to all kinds, but while I'm fasting I only listen to music with a Christian message. Again, for me it is about focus and what I will meditate on while fasting.
TASTE: What are you eating or not eating? Do you have what you need? What will you be avoiding during your fast?
SMELL: I don't really know about this one except to say that I like to create a calm, inviting place to have my daily quiet time. Lighting an especially aromatic candle can provide a soothing, pleasant scent. That never hurts, but definitely isn't necessary. I have one that smells like a big chocolate kiss. Not sure that's really smart during a fast, though! :)
TOUCH: For me this is about having the Word in my hands. I know many people have their Bibles on their smart phones; my husband does because he loves anything electronic, and there's nothing wrong with that. It is just my personal preference to have my Bible in print form so that I can highlight and make notes in the margin. It makes it a very personal thing for me. I also write in a spiral journal instead of keeping it electronically for the same reasons. I also have available any books that I am using for daily devotionals during my fast as well as index cards for writing down scriptures and prayer requests. Another thing I do is keep note cards available. As God puts people on my heart to pray for I will often write a note to them letting them know that I'm praying for them. It's a very tangible way to encourage others and to extend God's love and care to someone who needs it.
The time to think about these things is now, while you're getting ready. Some things you will need to seek God's guidance for. Others can simply be a matter of preference and what helps you to stay on task. Jot down some ideas now while you're thinking about it. Do you need to stock up on some appropriate reading and listening material? Do you need to designate a place for your devotional time and get it ready? Do you need to buy a journal and some highlighters and pens?
It's a little more to add to the Christmas busyness, but well worth the time and effort.
What are your thoughts on preparing to fast? What do you need to do to get ready? Leave us a little note.
I'm praying for you.