Read Psalm 23.

The wilderness is an isolated, dry, trackless place. When you are led there by the Spirit, you don’t know where you are coming from or where you are going. You are separated from normal routines and familiar faces. Your habitual entertainments and diversions and pleasures are inaccessible. It’s almost as though there were a global pandemic preventing you from going through your normal routines or even associating with other people. You are displaced, discomforted, disassembled. You are plowed ground, ready to receive new seed.

The temptations have started. The first temptation is to make yourself a loaf of bread. To flee this place. To deaden your spirit through pleasures or diversions or compulsive reading of the news. Here, now, in this wilderness, the need is especially great to deny yourself in all things, to listen intently for the Spirit, to follow the Spirit’s lead instantly. Lord, give me strength.

Your fasting is a training exercise. Your hunger can even become a friend. The real battle is against your attachments to the world. Do you love to watch a certain show on TV? Just as you can turn away from food, you can turn away from that love. Do you go to your computer for a little recreation and end up spending hours there? Let your hunger remind you that we do not live by bread alone. Fasting is accompanied by prayer. As you fast, you break attachments to the world, and as you pray, you turn toward God.

Let this time of isolation, this time of uncertainty, this time in the wilderness, be a time of fasting and prayer. Relax. Cede control. Be at peace. Don’t make yourself a loaf of bread. Follow the leading of the Spirit.

See also 'Prayer and Fasting,' Or, The Cure of Unbelief, from With Christ in the School of Prayer by Andrew Murray

Harry Plantinga

Harry Plantinga is a professor of computer science at Calvin University and the director of and