We all go through periods in our lives when we just feel stuck…stuck in our relationships, stuck in our financial situation, stuck in our job. When this happens, maybe what we’ve done, perhaps even unconsciously or subconsciously, is gone on a hunger strike. In essence, we are on a spiritual fast.
“Just as there is food for the body, there is food for the spirit. The consequences of spiritual malnutrition are just as hurtful to our spiritual lives as physical malnutrition is to our physical bodies.”
~Dallin H. Oaks
As I was preparing for today’s message, I was feeling a bit “stuck.” I had all sorts of things in mind to talk about, had done research, jotted down notes, and then – bam – the words just wouldn’t come. I stared at the computer, got a cup of coffee, went back to my notes, stared at the computer some more, and still nothing. I started to feel discouraged and anxious. Then Paul’s words to the Philippians (4:6)…”Be anxious for nothing…”
I put down the coffee, walked away from the computer, and did what most pastors do when they’re “stuck” – I went for a short walk. While I walked, I said a simple prayer, “Lord, I’m stuck…please guide me.”
As I walked around my backyard, I noticed the plants and shrubs. Some of you know that we’ve been re-working the irrigation system at the house. For weeks Mike has been digging, trenching, laying out new lines, adding sprinklers, etc. All this work only to discover we have no choice but to put in a 4th valve and zone because there simply isn’t enough pressure to water everything. Unfortunately, this discovery has come at the expense of half the backyard – nothing has gotten watered for several days. Many of the poor plants and shrubs are struggling and wilting, and leaves are turning brown from the lack of water. They seem to be begging, “Feed me, water me.”
That’s when the thought occurred to me that many times when we feel “stuck” it’s because we’re not getting the nourishment we need.
We all know how important food is to our bodies. Without food and water, our bodies break down, our cells can’t regenerate, and our health declines. Sure, we can go for a short time without food or water, but before long, the lack of nourishment takes its toll. Sometimes we fast on purpose – but even then it’s only for a short time. Our physical bodies simply cannot be sustained without physical nourishment.
The same is true for our spiritual body. Without proper spiritual nutrition, our spiritual body breaks down, we aren’t regenerated, and our spiritual health declines. Our spiritual bodies simply cannot be sustained without spiritual nourishment.
In our day-to-day lives we can easily get caught up in the “things of this world.” Think of all we do on a regular basis: work, vacuum, dust, clean the bathrooms, do the laundry, do the ironing, mow the lawns, do the shopping, tend to the kids, and tend to our loved ones. We have doctor appointments, dentist appointments, and counseling appointments. Then we have those unexpected things come up like completely re-doing an irrigation system. And, occasionally we fit in something fun like a concert, a movie, or a vacation. Our lives are so full, where do we find time for the things of the Spirit? Is it any wonder we end up on a Spiritual Fast? All too often we are “feasting” on the “things of this world,” and completely ignoring the nourishment of our spiritual bodies. No wonder we get “stuck.”
What Does Scripture Say?
Scripture reminds us that we must nourish our spiritual selves.
- Mat 4:4 – “But He answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’””
- 1 Corinthians 10:3 & 4 – They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.
- 1 Peter 2:2 – “…crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation…”
Just as food and water are vital to the health and wellness of our bodies, our spiritual food is vital to our spiritual health and well-being. And, if we’re being honest, we put a lot of thought and effort into our next meal. We plan out menus, we make shopping lists, we spend hours going to various stores, and we spend hours each week preparing meals. But, how much time do we take to plan and prepare for our spiritual nourishment?
For many of us, if we can squeeze in one hour per week for church, we consider ourselves “fed.” We simply don’t put the same time and energy into nourishing our spiritual selves – we don’t make it a priority.
When planning a wedding, I ask the level of importance they place on attending church and their spiritual growth. Most say they feel their spiritual growth, attending church, etc. is very important. When asking those same couples if they attend church regulary, most say no. And, when asked why they don’t, invariably the answer is “we just don’t seem to have the time.” It seems to me that we may think or feel that our spiritual nourishment and growth is important, but we simply don’t give it the time it deserves and requires.
When we’re hungry, we eat. When we’re thirsty, we drink. Our bodies are programmed to tell us when we need nourishment, and we respond. Generally speaking, we eat and we drink every day. Most of us eat one, two, three, even four or fives times a day. And most of us drink something – water, coffee, tea, soda, etc. – throughout the day. But when it comes to our spiritual bodies, many of us go on a six day fast, only eating once a week at church – if we’re lucky! Again, it’s no wonder we get “stuck.”
Breaking the Spiritual Fast
Want to get unstuck? Feed your spiritual body. There’s a reason the first meal of the day is called breakfast. After a long night with no food – basically, a fast – the first meal of the day breaks the fast. We need to get ourselves in the habit of having a spiritual breakfast every day, too. We need to take time reading scripture. We need to take time in prayer and meditation. We need to spend time communing with God, letting Jesus and the Holy Spirit guide us. When we do, the Lord will guide us to right actions and right decisions, we’ll feel inspired and motivated, and we’ll get “unstuck.” Will we make a mistake, or take a detour down a wrong path, once in a while? Sure, but He’ll stay with us, and He’ll guide us.
Psalm 37:23-24 tells us, “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they may stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.” Psalm 32:8 says, “The Lord says, ‘I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you’.” And Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
These are strong assurances. But, how can He guide us when we don’t spend time with Him? When we’re on a spiritual fast, we’re not studying scripture, we’re not spending time in prayer and meditation, and our spiritual health declines. The only way to regain our strength and our spiritual well-being is to end our spiritual fast.
In conclusion, let me ask a few questions.
How much time do you spend each week…
Now…how much time do you spend each week…
In prayer and meditation?
Participating in other spiritual activities?
Is there a disconnect? Is there an imbalance? If so, I invite you to give more thought to your spiritual growth and nourishment. When we’re hungry, we eat, and we feel better. When we’re thirsty, we drink, and we feel better. That’s how we maintain our physical health. The same is true for our spiritual bodies. To maintain our spiritual health, we must make it a priority. And so it is…I invite you to break the Spiritual Fast.
- Matthew 4:4
- 1 Corinthians 10:3 & 4
- 1 Peter 2:2
- Psalm 37:23-24
- Psalm 32:8
- Proverbs 3:5-6
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