Dena Johnson Martin Christian Blog and Commentary

Seek First

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. Matthew 6:33

We stand at the cusp of a new year, ready to usher in 2019. I don’t know what your 2018 held, but 2019 is a blank canvas, full of promise and hope. It’s a fresh start, an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and start over.

In our home, 2018 held a mix of wonder and loss, of joy and pain. As a family, we had the opportunity to grow together to experience the joy of family once again. We also experienced tremendous loss as we ushered Roy’s dad into the loving arms of his Heavenly Father. Ultimately, this is the human experience.

The last few weeks I’ve been contemplating the new year, what it might hold, what I might imagine for it. God has really been working on my heart, giving me a burning passion for those I love. My heart aches to pray fervently for my children, my husband, my family. I desire to be so much closer to my Father than I am right now.

I desire to be intentional in my prayer life, in my walk with God, in my relationship with my husband and children. And the new year is the perfect time to start.

Every year, our church challenges us to start the new year with a time of fasting, a time of setting aside ourselves and elevating God to His rightful position. It’s designed to give God the first of our year, much as we give the first of our income back to God. The purpose is to seek God first in our new year knowing He will bless the rest.

Several years ago, I purposed to do the 21 day fast. I opted to give up sugar and Diet Coke for 21 days, and I was steadfast in my commitment. It was hard, but I have always looked back on that year in wonder. It was a year of incredible spiritual growth. It was the year God began to open doors for my ministry. It was a year of incredible blessings.

And I long for that same experience again, that year where I fully commit to God at the beginning and I get to see Him open doors only He can open.

God has been working on my heart to start this year with a fast, to focus the first of my year on Him knowing He will bless the rest. So, starting next week, I will begin a 21 day fast. You may be asking why I’m telling you since scripture teaches us not to fast and pray so that men will look on and praise our good deeds. But there are several reasons why I am telling you.

Accountability. It’s really easy to break a fast when you are doing it by yourself. When we make ourselves accountable to someone, it helps us keep our commitments. I have made several failed attempts to fast over the last few years. I don’t want that to happen this time. I have an overwhelming sense that God is calling me to a fast this year, and I want to do everything possible to successfully complete it. I need Him. And I need you to help me focus my mind this year.

Companionship. I hope that by putting this out there, some of you will make the decision to join me on this journey. We have lost the discipline of fasting in our culture, in our brand of Christianity. It’s a lost art to deny ourselves so we can seek God. But, there’s something about it. There’s something about denying our flesh something we desire so we can focus on prayer, on knowing Him. I want us to know practice this important discipline.

So what does this fast look like? For me, I plan to eliminate diet soda, sugar, and breads. I want to focus on eating non-processed foods and water. I also want to minimize my time on social media. I can’t eliminate it, but I can definitely set limits on how much time I spend perusing Facebook, Instagram, etc.

Most importantly, I want to focus my mind in prayer. I have come up with a prayer theme for each of my children and my husband for 2019. From vision to healing to relentless love…each of my loved ones has special needs. Each is wrestling with pain and loss and each is dealing differently. My children AND my husband have lost their dads within the last three years, and this loss brings a host of different issues. I want to fall to my knees and intercede on their behalf, asking the God of the Universe, the God of all comfort, to reach down and heal the broken places of their hearts and lives.

Ultimately, my prayer in entering this season of fasting is that I will become more in tune, more in step, with the Spirit, that all the distractions of this life will be removed and I can hear my Father’s sweet whispers. My heart is to clear out all the gunk preventing me from moving in step with the Father, to be fully cleansed by the blood of my Savior. I want to become keenly aware of His presence and His blessings in my life.

My goal is to start this year by giving my Father the first of my year so I can see what He chooses to do with the rest of it.

Will you join me?