Over the years, I’ve adopted various methods for coming into a deeper, more focused connection with God. I once quieted myself on a silent retreat for several days at a Catholic monastery in Bourbon County, Kentucky, where most of the Colombia [Esto Es Reino] script was handwritten. Since my college days twenty years ago, I’ve fasted from food on many (though far from all) Fridays. Back in those university days, a friend of mine and I worked at Pizza Hut on Friday nights. We’d push each other to refrain from eating until after the dinner rush - not out of obligation, but rather from a place of desperation to see God moving in our lives.
For the first seven years of Come&Live!’s existence, we routinely fasted, along with many of you, on Fridays. I’ve often fasted 1-3 days before ministry trips, particularly whenever cameras were involved - not because I had to, but because I was hungry for God to be glorified and I felt the reality of battle. The longest I’ve ever fasted has been five days, though I think that even then I probably cheated once or twice. Over the past 18 months, I’ve “fasted” almost entirely from my own personal social media accounts, redirecting my energy instead to writing a book.
“The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison but apple pie. It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for heaven, but endless nibbling at the table of the world. It is not
the X-rated video, but the prime-time dribble of triviality we drink in every night.” - John Piper
I’m reluctant to write to you about where I sense God has me going next because I’ve never been there. I don’t know whether I’m committed or courageous enough to succeed, but the Holy Spirit gave me peace to write, so write we must.
Last year, I was watching a prayer and worship event called Azusa Now online. At one point, the founder of The Call, Lou Engle, talked about his new book, The Jesus Fast, and I was intrigued enough to order it on Amazon. In it, he lays down a strong appeal for fasting, and in particular a prolonged pursuit of intimacy with Jesus in the form of a 40-day fast. While reading Lou’s book, I sensed God asking me, “How hungry are you, Chad?”
And my truthful response in that moment? “Not very.”
I’ve now been in full-time ministry for just over eight years. That’s long enough in life (let alone ministry) for anyone’s fire to be tampered with. I’d be lying if I told you I haven’t struggled. But, here I am. And, here you are. By grace, I feel hunger stirring me toward increased affection with Jesus on a level I have not felt in many years. This Spring, I’m going to take Lou up on his challenge: fasting for 40 days, consuming nothing but water and natural juices. I don’t say this to boast - how could I, considering I haven't even begun? And honestly, apart from a miracle, the follow-up to this blog will be titled, “How Little I Hunger.”
I share these words with you, not in the hopes that you sacrifice in ways God hasn’t called you to, but as an encouragement to stay hungry wherever He has. I sense the Spirit clearly leading me into the wilderness of 40-day fasting, and being led by the Spirit is the only real way to follow Jesus into deeper waters. Any other motive will only push you far enough into the waves to realize that the best course of action is to turn around.
Jesus is challenging you to greater intimacy and obedience.
The only questions are how, what, when and where!
How hungry are you?
- Chad Johnson