Compassion Bags in the U.S. &
around the world!
As a writer and speaker, words are Kristianne’s art. A deliberate stringing of words becomes one of the highest forms of human expression when it gives a voice to the heart. Compassion That Compels and Compassion Bags started with a letter, a sweater and Kristianne’s two sisters-in-law and sister’s, cancer diagnosis.
THIS WEEK’S BLOG POST
“When is it Time for Fasting?”
by Kristianne Stewart
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?” (Isaiah 58:6)
When I reach maximum density, I know it’s time for fasting and prayer in my life. By maximum density, I’m not talking about an overindulgence of sugar-laden snacks. That’s what spandex is for. I’m talking about reaching the point when I’m saturated with my own selfishness and relying on my own knowledge. That’s a scary thought because I once put the remnants of a candle with the wick in the microwave to melt the wax because the jar was so pretty. That was three months ago. I’m 48, imagine the headlines for that one. Really?
I fast habitually because I habitually sin. And if you don’t think you’ve never sinned simply because you didn’t act on your murderous thoughts…well, that’s for another blog. I’m often asked why I fast, how I fast, and what I pray about when I fast. Fasting and prayer is a discipline I embrace to grow closer to God because where I decrease, the Holy Spirit increases.
“Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” (Isaiah 58:7 )
Growing up Catholic, I was accustomed to foregoing something during Lent (usually candy) then pillaging my Easter basket, ripping the ears off the chocolate bunny as if I was raised by wolves. Fasting is not a religious ritual but a relational experience for me now. I routinely fast, or forego a meal, every Tuesday. During this time, I will have a dedicated time of prayer and link my prayers with a Bible verse that applies to my fast. Or, I will have a period of time that I give up sweets to draw closer to God’s sweetness.
Twice a year, I dedicate a three-week time period to do a Daniel Fast where I eat fruits and veggies, but avoid meat, sugar, and processed foods. It’s an intense time for me, and I spend that time praying for very specific things. I’ll journal my thoughts so I can go back throughout the year or years, and reflect on my spiritual growth or unfortunately, my “pet sins.” There are sins I seem to almost nurture unintentionally because I’m living unintentionally. Fasting releases my selfish needs that override how God has told me to be. I fast so that in the hardest places, I learn that showing grace and unconditional love begins with me and in my own home.
“‘Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. ‘If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, 10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.’” (Isaiah 58:9, 10)
Fasting has taught me to listen and to seek God and ask Him to bless my life. It’s when I’m emptied of myself and I call out to my Heavenly Daddy, that He answers my prayers with His will and not mine. I’m not fasting to go hungry, I’m fasting because I hunger.
Oxen are really big animals and so I’m guessing a yoke is pretty hefty. Sin is oppressive and consumptive. I will fast and pray to have that oppressiveness lifted from my life. Sin wears disguises and is beguiling. It can seem innocuous like the food samplers at the grocery store. “Would you like to eat this tasty morsel of jealousy and gossip? It’s quite yummy and makes your thoughts get very, very small. Come back for more, it’s the perfect way to dine, dished out al la carte on a platter of pride.”
“Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities.Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes. ‘Keep the Sabbath day holy. Don’t pursue your own interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the Lord’s holy day. Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day, and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly.’” (Isaiah 58:12, 13)
Fasting is personal and defined by what you need to be released from. I’d encourage you to sit down and write out where your emotions and physical body seem to land. Maybe you rebound from social media or too much exercise (at the mall). Start with a dedicated time of prayer as soon as you wake up without distractions from the day. I like to use my old marked up Bible with the maps falling out and a journal where I write down, in my handwriting, what I want God to know. It’s powerful–like a handwritten thank you note instead of a text.
“Then the Lord will be your delight. I will give you great honor and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob. I, the Lord, have spoken!” (Isaiah 58:14)
I fast because my sin can’t satisfy my hungry heart and soul. There are times in my life when I’m spiritually starving, drinking from bitterness; allowing my fear to tear at emotional wounds of inadequacy and feeling trapped. But right before me, is a table resplendent with God’s love that drives away all my fears and Christ’s living water that infuses my soul. And when you find yourself delighting in the LORD, He will delight in you.
Join our Compassionistas and Compassion Communities as partner with our sisters at James River Church Designed Sisterhood for a 21-day Daniel Fast. Will you believe with us as we pray? Let’s storm Heaven for healing in the bodies of our BEAUTIFUL overcomers. Let’s ask for supernatural provision for Compassion That Compels so we never have to tell a woman who is in the fight of her life that we don’t have a Compassion Bag for her. Let’s lift up our Compassion Communities and Compassionista Sister program that will launch this fall.
What do you need God to do in your life? As you fast, believe for great things in your own life. DON’T GIVE UP! Press in and meet God right where you are. Over these next 21 days, let’s grow together as we learn to let go of what God never intended us to hold on to and embrace what He has for our lives!
My sweet friend Kristen Feola has a book and online resource, The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast. Sign up for her online community and find links to her book.
Compassion That Compels founder Kristianne Stewart’s life of love is filled to overflowing for her husband Royal, their daughters Grace and Annelise, and two Yorkies of questionable pedigree. Collecting people and gardening are among her passions. Painting lives in brilliant hues of God’s love and compassion is her purpose.
Providing hope to women battling cancer – one Compassion Bag at a time
Support Compassion That Compels