This morning reading Scripture gave me the strength I needed to begin a fast for the remaining 40 Days for Life (check out their inspiring website).
I have been reading through the prophets and am now in Daniel. Today I read Dan 10, which begins like this:
In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for three weeks. I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks. (Dan 10:2-3)
Daniel was “mourning” (the NJB says “doing a three-week penance”) because the attempts to rebuild the temple and the city of Jerusalem after the exile were stalled due to intense opposition (see Ezra 4:1-4). Daniel, however, was not merely grieving over the situation, but was appealing to the Lord to act.
By his fast he was expressing to the Lord the urgency of his request. It was a concrete way of saying that what he was praying for was more important than his personal comfort. At the same time, fasting helps a person to remain attentive and focused in prayer.
What encouraged me was the fact that it was a partial fast, something that Daniel could do in the midst of normal life. Yet it obtained a rather extraordinary response—a visitation from an angel and a revelation of the spiritual warfare taking place and what God was doing about it.
The Lord was listening to Daniel and very pleased with his fasting and prayer, even though nothing appeared to be happening (Dan 10:11-12).
I had thought about fasting for the 40 Days for Life, but it seemed too much to add to everything else. But today, inspired by Daniel’s example, I said, I can do that!
So I’ve decided to do my own partial fast between now and Nov 6: no desserts, no alcohol, no between meal snacks, and avoiding meat when there’s a protein alternative available. As in Lent, I won’t fast on the day of the Lord’s resurrection.
I will accompany my fast with prayer daily for life, asking that hearts and minds be changed in America and around the world, that laws be changed, that Planned Parenthood be shut down, that God bless Father Pavone and all who are involved in the prolife battle, that men and women who respect life be raised to positions of political authority, and that that those who are tempted to abort will find the strength to say no to death and yes to life.
At the same time I will mourn and fast “for Jerusalem.” By that I mean I will fast for the Church, which is struggling to be built up in the face of opposition from within and without. May the Lord purify and strengthen his people’s fidelity to him and to his word! May the Lord strengthen the hand of all who are engaged in the building and in the defending, like those in Nehemiah’s day who rebuilt the walls of the city with a sword in one hand and a trowel in the other (Neh 4:11).
I invite all who read this to join me in fasting and prayer for life and for the Church. Your partial fast may be different from mine, as mine is from Daniel’s. Let’s find a way to underline our prayer to the Lord and to remind ourselves of what we know is important and urgent.
Postscript: The press of many duties and of the beginning of the semester has kept us from blogging. By God’s grace, I hope we can return more often to Speaking of Scripture online.