Fasting is one of the most well-known spiritual disciplines, yet many are daunted by the thought of embarking on a fast. Our writer, Destiny Goh, found herself in a tough season in life and felt challenged to fast for the first time and believe in God for a breakthrough. She shares her experience in this article.
At the beginning of 2023, when most people listed their New Year’s resolutions in their brand-new journal, I only wrote four words: “Learn to trust God”. While I longed to see profound growth in my relationship with Him, it was difficult because I had too much going on that suffocated me mentally and spiritually. I was distracted by many “cares of life”.
It started when I first embarked on my career. For context, I was career-oriented, and my goal was to be at the top of the career ladder. I was obsessed with the idea of fancy titles and positions, and I believed if I worked hard, stayed back at work for longer hours, and learned new knowledge and skills to outperform the rest, I’d reach there soon enough.
I was wrong. Despite doing all those things, I was plagued by fear, anxiety and stress because of the piling workload. On top of that, I had to put up with nasty people at work who would not think twice about backstabbing others. In those moments, I began to see what it was like in a world without God. While it was vile and ugly, it also made me want to be different. The problem was, I didn’t know where to begin. Soon, I started to feel like I was spiralling into a black hole of doubt and fear.
Then suddenly, I lost my job. It was so unexpected that I had no time to process my thoughts. After three long, excruciating months of waiting and praying, I secured a Marketing Communications role.
Needless to say, my fears and anxieties from my previous job experience soon resurfaced, and feelings of inadequacy flooded my mind. I started to believe that I wasn’t good enough for this new role no matter how hard I tried.
In the midst of the mental turmoil, Pastor Kong Hee (senior pastor of City Harvest Church) started a series on Spiritual Disciplines in church. He preached about how we Christians can strengthen our spiritual muscles and learn to submit to God by practising spiritual disciplines—one of which was fasting. He also said that once you get started, spiritual discipline would become a delight. Sitting in the service, I felt God prompting me to give it a try.
As a Christian, the idea of fasting is not foreign to me. I’ve always heard and read about abstaining from food for a period of time to seek God, but personally, I’ve only ever abstained from social media. I do sports regularly so I was concerned that if I were to skip a meal, I wouldn’t have enough energy to last through the day.
THE FIRST STEPS
But as soon as I made up my mind, I was determined to do this right.
Before I began my fast, I made a short list of the things I wanted to pray about and areas where I needed God’s divine intervention. I decided to do a 10-day fast from lunch. During my lunch break, I would retreat from the crowd to be alone with God. Searching for a quiet place to pray felt like an adventure because the office buildings were always crowded. Yet, I was determined to spend time alone seeking God.
I managed to find a hidden spot filled with greenery on one side and a busy road on the other side. As I prayed, I realised that despite the busy surroundings, the noise didn’t bother me; it truly felt like I was alone with God in His presence. Even the words that poured forth from my mouth in prayer amazed me because those were things I’d never thought of praying about.
Abstaining from food didn’t feel too difficult when I was alone with God, praying, but the challenge started when the business of life resumed.
A few days into fasting, I became more intentional in my words, thoughts and actions. When a conversation became intense, I found myself intentionally slowing down my thoughts and speech instead of trying to defend myself or win every debate. I was also selective with the form of entertainment I choose and began listening to sermon podcasts. Instead of physical food, I was feeding myself on the Word of God, bit by bit and day by day; and I felt spiritually stronger as days passed.
One of my prayers was for God to change my perspective in areas I struggled with—and He answered my prayers. I started having little breakthroughs in my thoughts. If I were to do a good job and receive praise from my colleagues and bosses, I’d silently thank God instead of giving credit to my skills and abilities, fuelling my pride. When I ran out of creativity and was stuck on a task, I sought God’s help instead of blaming myself for my inability to tackle the problem.
While I acknowledge that we all need to excel in our work as God’s creation and put in our best effort in every task, I also recognise that whatever we do, we do it for God. Ultimately, it should be His validation that we seek. Our success and careers should never be our identity or our idol.
As days passed, a small miracle occurred, not for me, but for my boyfriend, for whom I was interceding daily. He had left his former position as he felt there were no prospects in the job. As the job market has not been doing well, and news of retrenchment looming, we were praying and trusting God for a new job opportunity to come through for him.
Just as my fast came to an end, a job offer came for him! By God’s grace, my boyfriend secured a new role at a reputable company after two weeks of waiting. He later shared that he was baffled by how and why this miracle happened to him. His amazement led him to thank God repeatedly.
REFLECTING ON MY 10-DAY FAST
Here are my genuine thoughts at the end of my first 10-day fast. I didn’t receive any dramatic breakthrough or a dramatic encounter that would change my life forever. However, that was never my intention. I started fasting because I wanted to grow spiritually and mentally. Indeed, going through all ten days with an empty stomach whilst praying has made my mind and spirit sharper, and I hungered more for a change. I felt that I was more sensitive to God and could feel him speaking to me through the sermons I was listening to and through the Word while I was doing my daily devotions. It made me look for Him in every part of my day—big or small, good or bad, I still praise him because I recognise that God is and always has been in control of the life He has given me.
While there was no radical change, I was certainly more inclined to lean on the Holy Spirit, even if it was just a little prayer said or a confession of the Word. God didn’t speak audibly, nor did all my problems get resolved simply because I chose not to eat for a few days. If there’s one word I can use, to sum up my experience, it’s being “intentional”.
When I set aside time to seek God intentionally, my spirit “synced” with God’s. I felt like I caught a tiny glimpse of what it’s like to be so close to Jesus, and I will say this: it was in my greatest pains, brokenness and anxiousness that I experienced Jesus to be so real and so close to me. Psalms 34:18 reads, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
I would fast again in a heartbeat to experience the heart of God all over again.