Thursday, June 21

What I Learned

Fasting as defined by Wikipedia is ... primarily the act of willingly abstaining from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time.

On June 1, I embarked on something new for me... a partial fast, and a blogging fast... You can read about my intentions here.

Here is how I did...
  • I do know that I will be taking a bloggy break for the 21 days. (promise me you will come back after this?!)

    I took a bloggy break (did you miss me?)... I thought that I would take some time to do some writing, journaling, etc and even planned to take part in Jeff Goins' 15 Habits of Great Writers series, but I hardly did any writing at all, which was a little discouraging to me.)
  • I do know that I have 2 things specifically that I will be praying about, for God to show me what the next step is...

    I discovered I really don't know much about prayer (more on that later) and I still feel a little lost in the 2 areas in which I am looking for a breakthrough...
  • I do know that I will be doing a partial fast... I read and like the idea of the hours of 6AM to 3PM for a partial fast. (not from all food, but definitely something)

    I did a partial fast from 6AM to 3PM and I chose the Daniel Fast... Fruits and Veggies and Water. I missed my morning coffee immensely... but that did lead to some morning prayer. Some days are harder than others... like SUNDAY when the big meal is before 3PM. It did show me a lot about my eating habits. So often I was tempted to snack while meal prepping for my kids, or finishing their uneaten plates, etc. Licking my fingers, munching here and there, sneaking candy or whatever! Mostly, I did well on this part. Occasionally I choose to break the fast, but I felt grace in those moments (does that defeat the purpose?)
  • I do know that I'm a little scared... and afraid of failing!

    What exactly does failing look like?  
The last 3 weeks have been like every other day in my life in that there were successes and there were failures; there were accidental breaking of the fast and intentional breaking of the fast; there were strong moments and weak moments. I learned much... but not enough!

I also know that fasting is supposed to be a private thing, but I also want to share some of what God is teaching me.

A friend on Facebook posted this on her page last week... and it hit me right between the eyes!!
You can pray without fasting, and fast without prayer. It is when these two activities are combined and dedicated to God’s glory that they reach their full effectiveness. Having a dedicated time of prayer and fasting is not a way of manipulating God into doing what you desire. Rather, it is simply forcing yourself to focus and rely on God for the strength, provision, and wisdom you need.

To be honest, I don't think I truly understand the power of prayer. I do a lot of sentence prayers, talking to God in the moment, knowing that He hears me, but not truly getting on my knees and begging Him for answers. While I did improve my focus on prayer during this 21 Day Allume fast, thanks to The Valley of Vision (a book of Puritan Prayers), I by no means touched the surface of what the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man really is. 

I could use my kids as an excuse, but to be honest, more often than not it was just me getting distracted. Thinking about the next thing that needed to be done, my wants, my cravings. Not really praying, believing! And in that, I'm discouraged, but not despaired.

I would love to try this again sometime (probably more privately). But before I do, I want to learn more about prayer, so I'm asking you.  
Do you understand prayer? 
Do you know how to pray? 
Is there any book you would recommend on the subject of prayer?

I've missed blogging and the community that comes with blogging... so I'd love it if you would take a moment to share your thoughts/experiences on prayer (and/or fasting)!

And yes, it is one day short of 21 days, but I wanted to join in with the lovely ladies over at Write it, Girl for their surprise summer link up!! 
Write it girl


  1. Wow, first off three cheers for you! Prayer is something that I love, and do often and still I don't understand it all. I think the key may be that there are things we won't completely understand. I know that those "sentence prayers" that talking to God in the moment, during the hours in our days is vital and I think it's in that talking and listening that we begin to realize that prayer should be an always every moment thing....

  2. Hi Julie Anne,
    I stopped over from Write It, Girl, and this is my first time visiting your blog.

    I don't know if I "understand" prayer exactly, and sometimes think it's different for everyone, meaning the way I feel close to God and hear from Him may be totally different for someone else. But, what's been most meaningful to me over the past years isn't necessarily a scheduled time to pray (although I do like early mornings), but talking to Him throughout the day. I like feeling like I'm in constant communication with Him. What I continue to work on, though, is not letting my day get so rushed that I can't hear when He's communicating with me.

    Glad to have "met" you through Write It, Girl!

    In Christ,

  3. I pray unceasingly....some days they are prayers of joy, some days I think I grumble way too much - but I really try to pray through my days.

    Way to go on the fasting! That is one thing I have never done.

  4. I have never fasted either, but I have recently embarked on a journey to improve my prayer life. I attended a prayer retreat, that I blogged about. I read the book: Prayer on Fire by Fred Hartley and I plan to read the Circle Maker by Mark Batterson (i think...). Both come highly recommended by the leadership of my church. My eyes have definitely been opened and my prayer life has been strengthened.

    Here is a link to my posts in the series on prayer (I wrote these after attending the prayer retreat)

    Mary Beth

  5. I have read so many different books on prayer that I finally got overwhelmed and threw my hands up in the air. NOT that I don't do it. I'm more of a continual pray-er in the sense that I see prayer as my communication with God, so I share what's going on, and it helps. I also try to be quiet and listen, otherwise how do I hear him. But I just wonder if we don't work too hard to make it too complicated. Course, that is our human tendency anyway. ;) Good job! I have not fasted in a long time. I think it's goign to be time soon for me to do so again.

  6. The first book that came to mind when I read your question was A Praying Life by Paul Miller. I would also read The Practice of The Presence of God by Brother Lawerence. He will inspire you to want to pray more.

    Amy @ Missional Mama

  7. Thanks for sharing your thoughts so openly, Julie! Thoughts on prayer- I love that the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf when we don't know what to pray. One of the ways that I practice prayer when I am feeling dry is by rewriting a Psalm- and since you are a writer, you might enjoy this too. The Psalms are beautiful prayers of praise- an aspect of prayer that I often miss.
    As for books- I LOVED "Let Prayer Change Your Life" by Becky Tirabassi.
    And one of the best prayers that I have ever prayed? That I would hunger and thirst for righteousness. My husband did this with wisdom. Focusing on one thing rather then trying to pray for EVERYTHING is much more effective. And then when you see God answering that prayer, it will encourage you to keep praying!
    Welcome back! :)

  8. I have found myself thinking a lot about prayer recently as well, and I've learned a couple of things that I will pass along :) 1) I have an easy time with "petition" prayers, the straightforward asking for stuff but have struggled really with understanding praise, for some reason it seemed forced to me. But I read somewhere about picking one aspect of the Lord's character, say Mercy or Grace or Compassion and focus on that for one week and let that shape your praise prayers and 2) Sometimes even more important than what we say to God through prayer is allowing HIM to speak to us, so silence or contemplative prayer is something I have been exploring more in an effort to dig deeper into my relationship with God. Also I have had many blessings come from fasting with intentional prayer so I definitely agree that the combination of the two can be incredibly powerful.

  9. i love your honest reflection of your journey...thank you for sharing! there are two things that have taught me much concerning prayer...look up or get a book on the prayers in the Bible. as we see the prayers God felt were important to record we learn what is important and how to pray. praying scripture is another practice I use regularly. You might pick a psalm or in your daily reading and begin to pray it out! talk through with God those principles you are learning, ask Him the questions when you don't understand , stand on the promises thanking Him as you do for His provision, and as you go through the Word it will teach you how to pray. I often ask the Holy Spirit, who is our teacher, guide, and counselor to guide my prayers before I begin and often wait to see where He will lead me. this journey is so fun! god will meet you in awesome ways! Blessings!

  10. Julie,
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the fast! I think that in general, just removing some of our no-brainer moments of the day and instead choosing to focus on the Lord can and will bring about new perspective...even if it's not the answers we were hoping for in the end.

    And as far as prayer goes...the best place I can point you is Matthew 6. This is the very way that Jesus said to pray, so spend some time breaking this all down and studying it in depth...asking the Lord for revelation, and I believe you will be amazed to see how He takes your prayers to new levels of awesome!

    5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
    7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this:

    “Our Father in heaven,
    hallowed be your name.
    Your kingdom come,
    your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
    Give us this day our daily bread,
    and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
    And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.
    (Mt 6:5–13)


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