21 days is typically how long it takes to form a habit. It is for that reason that every January and every August, our church participates in 21 Days of Prayer. In each of these months, our bodies find themselves in re-set modes. January is the start of a new year so it is like a clean slate, a fresh start. August is the time of year when summer is over, kids are headed back to school and families are getting back into a steady routine. My family has been doing this for the last three years & it is nothing short of amazing and this last time, was my best experience thus far. Probably because I have never gone as fully in as I did in January. In the past, I would typically fast from certain types of foods but if I am honest it probably had more to do with the weight loss benefit than getting closer to Jesus. I also never made it a priority to attend or watch the morning prayer services in the past but this year I went online every single morning and watched and then on Saturdays when I could physically be there, I was there. And this year instead of fasting food – I fasted social media. It was hands down the best thing I have ever done.
I have never fasted anything until three years ago when this new church came to town. I never heard much about it growing up as a Southern Baptist and if I had any thoughts on the matter, I probably thought it was a little weird. My church (Central City Church) and my pastor’s church, Church of the Highlands provided so many resources about fasting, what it means and what the purpose is. (The resources are online at 21daysofprayer.churchofthehighlands.com if you are interested) One of my favorite authors, Mark Batterson has always said that he believes that God leans in a little closer when we fast. I have learned that there really is something to this fasting. See, God never moves or changes, He is always there but when we intentionally take some of the noise out of our really loud lives, we find that we can hear Him so much better.
God did some pretty cool things in my heart and in my life over this last 21 days. Not all of my prayers have been anwered and that is okay because that is not what it is all about. God is not a vending machine that I use to get all I want but instead, I am trying to focus on surrendering, learning to be still (really hard for me) and just soak up His presence. I want to keep going with these prayer rituals and that is exactly the hope of the church, that after we experience 21 days that we will still be intentionally praying and seeking God on day 44 and day 365. There are so many stories of God’s faithfulness during the 21 days & beyond.
I chose to fast from social media because I figure that often causes me the most distraction. I have taken little breaks from social media in the past but this was my first hard core social media fast. I mean I deleted the apps off my phone! Gasp! It felt a little crazy and it was weird not having it there & it also revealed how quick I am to go to social media when I have idle time – therfore, it made me realize how little time I have and how much time I often waste on these platforms. I enjoy posting pictures and thoughts and I enjoy seeing your pictures of your adorable families and pets but there are so many things I didn’t miss. I consider myself a fairly healthy social media user meaning I know it is all a highlight reel and other people’s posts don’t bother me or stick with me but there are some of you that constantly compare yourselves to all you see on social media and that is unhealthy for you & I don’t think that is the purpose of social media. If you can’t get on social media and not compare and roll your eyes 184 times per minute, then you probably need a break too.
Here is the thing – (as I am learning every day in my Master’s program) we are all wired differently and Susie may be able to accomplish 122 tasks every day but Janie might only accomplish 2 tasks and then she needs a nap. Both are okay. Susie might be a size 2 swimsuit model and Janie might be a healthy size 10. Both are okay. Susie might be a Cross fitter and Janie might be a yogi. Both are okay. Susie might have a corporate job earning six figures and Janie might be a stay at home. Both are okay. The bottom line is we are all different and our creator intended it that way. If you find yourself feeling down while scrolling social media, remember that other people’s post are not a reflection of you. We can’t compare our insides to other people’s outsides. The healthiest way to approach social media is just knowing that it is what it is and if we decide to take it all with a grain of salt, it won’t get the best of us and it will be enjoyable. I think the social media wizard creators meant for it to be enjoyable so if instead of enjoying it, it makes your blood pressure rise or causes any angst – just take a break or block or unfriend, whatever you need to do because your page is your world. Free couseling here people:) No really, I have just thought alot about this as I have taken a break & talked with others about it. For me, I have so much going on in my head and at my house on a daily basis I don’t ever need any extra clutter & when I notice that social media is becoming clutter rather than something I enjoy, I need to turn it off.
All of that to say, that I am a believer in fasting and if you have never tried it, I encourage you to do it! You can fast from almost anything and you will know what it is that your body, mind and soul need a break from at this point in life. Maybe it is caffeine, maybe it is skipping one full meal per day, maybe it is turning off the t.v. or radio, maybe it is a full old school food fast with just water. Maybe 21 days seems extreme to you, so do it for three days instead. If we don’t have a little flexability, we don’t have anything. Decide what it is then go all in & I think you will experience the goodness of God like never before. You can file me away as one of those weird Jesus freaks that promotes fasting now:) Woud love to hear about your experience if you give it a go! Be blessed and be kind! Until next time –