Acts 1:8 (NIV)
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
As a postscript on the recent series of prayer and fasting, I wanted to add this personal story of how my life was changed by the Asbury Outpouring, the history-making encounter with Jesus in February 2024 in Wilmore, Kentucky. It launched me into this new prayer and fasting journey I have tried to bear witness to in this series. Here’s the backstory. If you listen, you can hear it in my own voice.
On February 8 of last year, an extraordinary happening unfolded in Wilmore, Kentucky, on the campus of Asbury University. A regular and quite ordinary chapel service ended at 11 a.m. that day. Around nineteen students lingered behind in prayer. Within hours, a steady stream of students spontaneously returned to the chapel. Within days, the chapel was filled to capacity with a line outside stretching around the block. Sixteen days later, well over fifty thousand people from all fifty states and dozens of countries around the world (including groups from hundreds of colleges and universities across America) had come to what came to be known as “The Asbury Outpouring.” None of it was planned, orchestrated, or organized by the school or anyone else. (Please see the P.S. today for an important update concerning Seedbed’s ongoing work with the Asbury Outpouring.)
Leaders at the university reached out to Seedbed for support. We made a beeline to Wilmore. It was truly one of the most extraordinary things I have ever been a part of. Upon entering the celebrated Hughes Auditorium, you could sense the palpable presence of God. I had been there a hundred times before but never like this. Compelled to respond to what Jesus was doing, I went straight to the altar. A few minutes later I felt a hand on my back and a man began to pray for me. It was Gary Leiderbach, the author of last week’s Holy Spirit Story. After some time at the altar, I sensed the word of the Lord to me. It was simple, brief, and clear: “I want you to fast.”
So I stopped eating. All Jesus had been teaching me for the past couple of years came into play. All the mechanics of what I consider to be “old wineskin” fasting were out the window. I was not skipping this meal or the next one. This wasn’t a period of hours or days. It wasn’t even about not eating. It was about carrying hunger in my physical body in a way that empowered me to lean into the deep attunement of my inmost being to the Spirit of Jesus.
Those days became filled with the food I had not known about before—the food of doing the will of God—of receiving and imparting the in-breaking kingdom of heaven. I, along with so many others, participated in miraculous works, in the ministry of deliverance, in the sharing of knowledge, wisdom, and prophecy, and in the travail of discerning and birthing a move of God into the world. And we were able to do it in an almost hidden way; unknown and largely unseen.
People have asked me through this Wake-Up Call series what this kind of fasting I am describing practically looks like. Allow me to describe it. For starters, I was delivered from the legalism of fasting as eating or not eating and lifted into a life of hungering and thirsting for righteousness. To be sure, I did eat food during those sixteen days but it wasn’t about food. It became about simple sustenance—a handful of cashews here, a piece of fruit there, and a steady flow of water. The team who lightly guided the outpouring from behind the scenes often met during mealtimes. To keep my fasting secret, which I think Jesus expects, I would take a small plate of food and slowly eat a few bites. In short, I have learned to eat in a way that all at once gave sustenance and yet preserved hunger. For almost a year now, this has become my way of life. It is changing me. I have had many feasts along the way too and I find I enjoy them a whole lot more than before. Through the process, I have realized how much I depended on food to do far more than food was ever designed to do, which leads me to share one more facet of this conversation.
Some of you will remember my post back in April of last year titled, “On the Law, the Gospel, and the Religion of Weight Loss.” In that post I publicly confessed my obesity, disclosed my weight, and decried all diets and weight loss programs, noting that I had tried them all and eventually failed every single time. Can I tell you a joyful unintended consequence of my fasting journey? Since those days in Wilmore last February, I have lost twenty-five pounds without trying to lose weight at all. Every day in the Wake-Up Call, we consecrate our bodies as a living sacrifice. As I reflect on it, I have simply sought the kingdom and his righteousness with my body through fasting. Remember how the text says “all these things will be added to you.” I believe weight loss has been one of those things. Praise God! I have been delivered from obesity.
I have a different relationship with food because I have a new relationship with hunger all of which has led to a deeper and ever-deepening relationship with Jesus. Food is no longer my comfort, making way for the Holy Spirit to be my comforter. Best of all, I am learning to abide in Jesus in love for others like never before and thereby witness the beyond-imagining work of God according to his power that is at work within me.
I know weight and weight loss is a sensitive subject for so many and I pray this sharing today has not caused offense or worse, triggered trauma or shame reflexes. I do not mean to impose my learning and practice on anyone as prescriptive. Please receive it as descriptive of my experience. If it is helpful, good. If it is not helpful, discard it.
Father, thank you for this story of what you have done and are doing in and through my own life. I pray it is of encouragement to many and for any who feel discouragement, I pray they will take from this only what you intend and discard the rest. We can say that our bodies, our physical bodies, belong to you. We want them to be consecrated in ever-deepening and practical ways. Holy Spirit, would you fill this temple of my body today, just as I am, and then lead me to release all that holds my body back from wellness? Lead and train me to seek the kingdom of God with and in my physical body. Glory to you in advance. Praying in Jesus’s name, amen.
Are any developments in your fasting and prayer journey coming out of our series this past month? I would love to know.
Today we will sing our Saturday song, “Sanctuary,” with particular emphasis on our physical bodies as the temple of God.
For the Awakening,
J. D. Walt
P.S. An Update on Seedbed’s Ongoing Response to the Asbury Outpouring
As noted, our Seedbed Farm Team was blessed to serve the Asbury Outpouring last February. We have done considerable reflection and learning from all we observed and participated in. I am pleased to share we will be releasing a new resource we are calling The Awakening Library, releasing February 29, 2024. We interviewed scores of people who participated in the outpouring, with an eye toward gleaning the wisdom the Spirit deposited through those historic days. The resource will consist of a series of high-quality short films as well as short booklets. With gratitude to generous members of our Seed Team (aka donors), we are able to offer these resources in their digital format at no charge. Please go to awakeninglibrary.com and register to be notified when they become available.