Hello Friends! Today I am dropping by to talk about Holy Week. Plus it’s Monday so that means a prayer for Monday. This week we are fasting from meat and alcohol around here. We chose this week because it was the final week leading up to Jesus’ torture and execution. I completely spaced on the fact that it was considered Holy Week until we were in church yesterday. However, that makes it even more perfect.
Holy Week began on Sunday when Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem. This was a prophecy that was fulfilled from Zecharia and is written in Matthew 21 and John 12. The days following, he teaches in the Temple and hangs out with his friends. (Matt. 21-26; John 12-17) He is arrested on Thursday to be put on trial. He is then executed and buried on Friday. Saturday is the Sabbath. Then on Sunday when the women go to the tomb, they find it empty. (John 20, Luke 24, Mark 16, Matt. 28) Sunday is the day we celebrate Easter – the resurrection of Jesus. It is also the day we will break our fast.
What is the point of a fast? It is to grow closer to God and to listen for direction. Weather fasted before she went to king Xerses, Moses fasted before he received the commandments from God (Deut. 9), Daniel fasted in response to a vision to receive understanding about it (Daniel 10), and Jesus fasted while he was in the wilderness (Matthew 4). Generally, we expect to receive understanding, direction, or purpose from a fast. We also know that God will provide for us and sustain us during a fast.
The last time I fasted, I argued within myself that I did not give up enough and that I was not enough. When I reached out to God in response to this prompting in my heart, I found God waiting to tell me that I don’t have to be perfect that Jesus was perfect on my behalf. (read that post here). I connected with God in a way that I had been missing. I relaxed into the perfect love of God.
The point is not to focus on what we’re doing when we’re fasting. That’s what the Pharisees did that Jesus constantly called them out on. They were outwardly pious and inwardly rotting. We want to focus on what Jesus did, why he did it, and how it’s working still. The point is to obtain guidance from God, strength from the Holy Spirit, and companionship with Jesus.
This time, my goal is to focus on the sacrifice that Jesus gave for me. Jesus gave his life for me, for you too. He went willingly to be a perfect replacement, to take on my sin, and to pay for my admission to the throne room. I want to stand with him, in a way. I want to sacrifice in a small way in remembrance of his sacrifice during this time. The way I do that is by giving up a thing that is difficult for me to give up.
How to prepare for a fast. Last time, I was unprepared and it was harder than it needed to be. I considered what I wanted to fast from and for how long. I decided to fast from meat and alcohol. Last time, I fasted from bread, sweets, and most meats. I wanted to do more this time and walk pay attention to Jesus during this week. Once the decisions were made, I took action.
I looked up recipes on Pinterest for meatless meals. I added the ingredients to the grocery list for this week so that we’d have all we needed. I also added meatless substitutes to the menu. I know that I like them because I was a vegetarian before I became pregnant with my son years ago. My husband is joining me on the fast and he hadn’t had them, but he’s willing to eat almost anything.
The menu is: Sunday – Mushroom spaghetti, tofurkey italian sausage, with salad and bread; Monday – spinach stuffed mushrooms with tofurkey italian sausage; Tuesday – homemade cream of mushroom soup with salad and bread; Wednesday – bean and cheese burrito with rice and chips with guacamole; Thursday is eggs and tofu sausage; Friday – veggie burgers and fries; Saturday – mushroom pizza and tofu chicken wings. I found recipes for all of these on Pinterest and they are all easy to make.
We have stocked up on fresh veggies and hummus, fresh fruit, and canned fruit like pineapple and pears for lunch. We also have nuts, peanut butter, and fruit spread sandwiches for lunch. Popcorn is also a snack as well. These are all filling and good for us. Sunday we will break our fast and have Easter dinner in celebration of Jesus having risen in victory.
If you want to join in, feel free, I’d love to hear about your experience at the beginning of next week. Feel free to email me or comment on this post. The point is not to starve but to go to God when we are hungry and pray. We will experience the sacrifice when we want something and cannot have it. When that occurs, moving our focus over to God instead of what we are lacking allows us to move closer to him.
I learned how to do this when I quit smoking. I had failed so many times before but I knew that God wanted me to quit and be healthier, so I wanted it more. I couldn’t do it on my own, so I leaned on him. Every time I wanted to smoke I prayed “God, I don’t want to smoke.” Then I would take a drink of water. It worked, I stopped smoking two years ago.
This is the same reliance that will get you closer to God when you want to break your fast. Come up with a plan when your willpower will be lacking. Then, every time, make the decision to pray instead of giving in.
Monday Prayer. Now, as is our new tradition, we are going to pray today. The verse from this week is John 17. John records a prayer that Jesus prayed for all of us before he went to the garden to be captured. He prayed for the disciples and then he prayed for you and me.
“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just and you and I are one – as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.” John 17:20-21 NLT.
I want to pray, as Jesus prayed, that we would be a unified church. I want to pray that we would draw closer to Jesus and hear direction, peace, and love from the Holy Spirit. That we recognize that we are in them and they are in us. Let’s pray together.
Dear God – today we come to you with our hearts bared and our head bowed in awe of the gift you have given to us. We come with gratitude for your sacrifice for us before we were born and while we were still sinners. You sent Christ Jesus to die for us and he went willingly in love. God, we know that sometimes the world distracts us and we fall away from your love and peace. Today we ask that you help us to draw near and to help us listen to your word. Let us see you and feel the peace that only you can bring. We ask that you unify your church into one body as you planned all along. Let us be shining examples of your love so that we can pour your light into the world. Holy Spirit we ask that you come and guide us to the place where we can shine bright. Jesus, we thank you for your willing, loving sacrifice. We want to be in your presence and experience your peace. This week we remember you and know that you rose from the dead to save us. God, we wait expectantly for the good you will do in this world. Remove our distractions and help us focus on you. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.
Friend, I hope you take this opportunity to walk with Jesus this week. You can fast from anything that you wish – social media, shopping, alcohol, or a specific food. I hope that in doing so, you will draw closer to God and live in this Spirit. Have a wonderful week this week. See ya later!