Fasting for adoption

I went back and forth over whether I should write this post.  In Matthew 6, Jesus is clear that our fasting should not be done to draw attention to ourselves.  I want to honor that command.  I respect that command.

But in recent weeks I have heard many expecting adoptive parents talk about the agonizing wait and the feelings of helplessness that come along with it.  Since that was me only weeks ago (and in some ways, still is), I empathize. I want to share what is probably the most important thing I did during our endless waiting season: I fasted.  Not the whole time and not a full fast- but I'll get back to that.

My history with fasting is a complicated one.  When I was 18- the summer before I went to college- I visited my grandparents out in Alberta, Canada for their wedding anniversary.  A few days before the party I met a pair of their close friends, friends from the church at which my grandfather formerly pastored.  They asked with honest interest about my future, where I was going to college, what I wanted to do after college etc.  When I shared that I was going to a Bible college with the intention of studying for some sort of ministry, they were excited.

A few days later at the anniversary party, the wife of couple pulled me aside and asked if she could speak to my privately.  Sure.  We ducked into a nearby hallway and she pulled out a little green book.  I have a strong sense that the Lord is urging me to give you this book.  I don't know why, but I can't ignore the feeling. The book was "Fasting" by Jentezen Franklin.

Now I'll admit, I am very skeptical of people who say thing like The Lord told me to tell you... so I thanked the lady but was- well, skeptical.  I didn't know the word evangelical back then but if I had my thought would have been something like crazy evangelical.  Later that evening, however I heard my grandparents talking about their guests and they referred to this couple as "pillars of the church."  That gave them a little more credibility in my mind, but still I didn't know quite what do to with the book.  So I read it, appreciated it, and tucked the memory in the back of my mind.

The book is fascinating.  The author is a pastor of a church whose whole community participates in a month long fast (some full fasting, some partial, some modified) and the book is a commentary on fasting as well as a testimony to what the Lord has done in their community as a result.  When I read this book again a few months ago I asked John if this guy- Jentezen Franklin- was a crazy evangelical, but he said no- he's pretty legit.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

3 years after I received this book, my mom got very, very sick.  She had surgery on her abdomen to remove scar tissue that had built up after a C-section 16 years prior, and she aspirated while she was coming out of the anesthetic.  She was on death's doorstep, as they say.  In a coma, on life-support, touch and go for weeks. The sickest person in Ontario her doctor said, if not Canada.  He described my mom's lungs as looking "like leather."  Every medical advance known to humankind was used on her and she was barely hanging on.

I was in Michigan at college while she was sick, driving home with John (then my fiance) as often as I could.  At the same, one of my classmates Ani was struggling to beat a summer-long battle with some kind of respiratory infection.  That fall Ani received the devastating news that her lung problem was actually cancer.  And cancer that had spread.  A lot.

In the face of my mom's and Ani's desperate situations, my small 300 person Bible college along with our home churches and greater communities committed themselves to three days of prayer and fasting.  We all wore these bracelets as a sign of our solidarity and commitment to pray for their healing:
This is the only picture I have, but the other side said, "Ani & Marg (my mom)"
Only days after the fasting ended, my mom began to get better.  It was by all accounts a miracle.  Her doctors used terms like amazing, surprising, and no medical explanation. In January 2008 after spending 5 months in the hospital, my mom came home.  Today she lives a life that leaves little trace of the disease that previously ravaged her body.
Still on a vent, but well on her way to recovery in December 2007- 4 months after her surgery.
We fasted.  We prayed.  God healed my Mom.  There is no other explanation.

And while we praised God for his healing hand in my mom's life,

Ani died.

God did not heal Ani like we asked.  The cancer spread too far.  She did not get a miracle. 

We fasted.  We prayed.  Ani died.


Every time I hear about fasting I think about my mom... and then I think about Ani.  And I wonder:

What's the point of fasting?  

So a few months ago,  when I began to feel God nudging me to go get that little green book on fasting from my basement shelf, I wondered why? 

When I couldn't shake the feeling that I needed to read this book, I finally went downstairs, sought it out and read it again.  And of course I became convicted that I needed to fast.  Thoughts of my mom and of Ani plagued me as I struggled with God.  I will do it, I prayed, but I don't know why.  I don't know what fasting is supposed to do, but I will do it. 

So I fasted for a week.  I did a partial fast, fasting from food 23 hours per day, eating only dinner, and allowing myself juices the rest of the time.  The purpose of choosing this type of fast was practical: I get migraines if my blood sugar gets too low and I can't do my job as a daycare provider with a headache (turns out kids are pretty noisy little buggers).  I wanted the hunger, but not the headache.  This was the perfect way to achieve that goal.

During my week-long fast, I constantly asked the question why am I doing this?  Mostly I wondered if my fasting was going to somehow change God's mind, to bend his will to make our adoption happen, to change the future in a way that it would not have played out otherwise.

What happened during my fast, was that I was in prayer in communion with God like I had never been before.  Every hunger pain sent me into prayer... which was constant as I was almost always hungry.  The content of my prayer was the same: praying for our little guy, praying for God to move, praying for the Russian and US governments etc.  But the most profound change was the form of my prayers.

Where before my prayers were desperate and I was begging and pleading for God to move, I became confidant before the throne.  I felt assured that I could present my requests before God and he would hear them.  Where as before they were more like "Please, God.  Please.  Please hear me.  Oh God please hear my prayer," they moved into the direction of, "God you know my heart and my prayer.  I ask in Jesus name for it to be done.  I know you are able.  I pray you are willing." I moved from desperation to confidence.  Indecently I realized I was making a move toward better prayer, as commanded by Christ in that same chapter on fasting.

Matthew 6:7-8, "And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him."

As I fasted, God bent my will toward his own.  He sanctifed me.  He gave me confidence before his throne.  He taught me how to trust in him.  

Our dossier was registered in Russia only days after my fast ended.  I still do not claim to know what happens in divine realms when we fast, but I also do not think it was a coincidence that the answer to my prayer came after my fasting.  

Matthew 6 says that the Father will reward our fasting.  The reward isn't always the answer we were looking for, but the reward is perfect, whatever it is.  If you are waiting for something or begging God to move in some way, consider a fast.  Present your requests to God.  I pray he answers your prayer in the way you desire and I am blessedly assured that in your fasting you will be sanctified and blessed with confidence before the throne of God.   

Fasting is a way to do something when it seems like you can do nothing.  Though I don't know exactly what fasting does, it doesn't do nothing.  It does something.  And it does something divine. 
My mom dancing with my brother at my wedding in June 2008, home 5 months from the hospital.
I can only imagine Ani dancing with her savior in eternity.



  1. Karen Wiersma8/04/2012

    I remember those 3 days so well. It was the first time I ever fasted. And I remember seeing video (on the news?) of your mom *walking!* down the aisle at your wedding. Thank you for sharing this, fasting is something I know is an option but i often forget about

    1. That was such an amazing moment when she walked!! Thanks for commenting Karen!

  2. Rachel Goulart-de León8/05/2012

    It's amazing to see how God has guided you through the toughest times! I love reading your posts, they're great reminders of how much God cares us and even for the little details in our lives!

    1. Thanks for commenting Rachel! I never think about that fast without remembering you! You were the driving force behind it and you will always have a special place in my heart because of that. Hope you are doing well!

  3. This is so awesome! Our church sermon yesterday was about fasting--the church as a whole does a three day fast in August every year. We have recently become members of this church;so this would be my first fast. I was nervous and still contemplating if I would join in--(my blood sugars bottom out as well and they want to do a no food/no water--NOTHING at ALL fast) after reading this, how could I possibly not join!? How odd is it that this was what you decided to blog about today,and it was a decision I was faced with? God-maybe?? :-)

    1. Wow that is amazing Laney! So wonderful how God weaves different stories into our lives at just the right time. I hope your fast brings you into God's intimate presence like never before. One thing I'll add- I've done a bit of reading on the subject and everyone recommends drinking water during a fast. Otherwise you will send your body into shock, especially if this is your first time. No water fast can be done, but I would not think it would be wise to do it your very first time. Just my two cents. Come back afterward and tell me what it was like!

  4. This may very well be exactly what I needed to read right now. I've been in the "please, God, please" phase lately. Unable to alter the things that hold us back. I think it's time for a fast. Thanks so much for posting this!

    1. So glad to hear that. God's richest blessings on you as you prepare and enter into your fast. May his presence be thick around you!


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