Why bother to pray and fast? Maybe you are asking yourself this as we head into the middle of this month long journey. The initial excitement and resolve has worn off, and you are starting to feel the pangs of missed comfort and tasty, beckoning habit.
"The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth." (Psalm 145:18)
We are learning, through these disciplines of faith, through committing ourselves to a season of intentional spiritual practice, to call on the Lord, in truth, not just out of duty or habit or comfort or precedent.
And He is near. As we call on Him, for our families, for our church, for our friends, for this city, out of a place of honesty, sharpened by hunger and unclouded by the normal routines that keep us comfortable, He is near.
My basic human nature starts to push back: turn back now! You won't be satisfied anymore! You want the impossible! it reasons, as other things are stripped away, and my heart becomes uncluttered. I realise how desperately hungry I am, and how unsatisfying the myriad daily dramas and momentary stimuli of my life are. I start to want things that seem impossible again. I want to see this city renewed and redeemed. I want to see people healed. I want to "see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." (Psalm 27:13).
And He is near.
My heart hears this, and a tiny gasp of ache, that core longing to be where the Lord is, sputters to life and becomes a deep breath, and then a wind stirring up my soul, and it upsets everything. If I'm honest, I prefer things to be set.
So be upset this week. This is your calling - this is part of our church's calling: to be unsatisfied with the way things are. To be hungry for the Lord - to be unsettled, stirred up, wanting the redemption, the healing, the transformation that we often think is impossible.
Take some time today to fully engage in the feeling of being unsettled, being hungry, being unsatisfied. Soak in these Psalms - and ask the Lord to sharpen your need even more. You many just find that in the place of lack and emptiness, the one thing you have been wanting, the appetite that has been pushed aside or deemed ridiculously out of reach will rise up again:
"One thing I from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life..." Psalm 27:4
The Lord is near.
- Sarah Kift