When you are a kid, birthdays are a time of fun, cake and gifts. As you get older they become a rite of passage. At 16 you can drive. At 18 you can vote. At 21 you can legally buy the alcohol you've been drinking since you were 15. Birthdays in your 20's are no big deal, you are an adult but you are young and having fun. At 30 you are officially getting old. At 40 life is probably half over, maybe more. 50? You know the clock is ticking. How much money is in the 401K anyway?
My birthday was this last week. As I've started getting older birthdays have become a reflection on time left instead of a celebration of time passed. Last year this time I was feeling particularly reflective and I made a decision to try an experiment for a year. It was a spiritual experiment. Actually I tried two new things this year.
I made a commitment ( a vow) to fast for one 24 hour period each week. From midnight Wednesday to midnight Thursday I would eat no solid food. I could drink water, tea etc but no food. I would use this time of fasting for prayer.
The second thing, came around the same time in the form of a prayer. I prayed, requesting Hashem grant me the fullest manifestation possible of His Holy Spirit in my life and make me sensitive to the leading of His Spirit.
The most difficult thing about my "experiments" was having them bear fruit. In many ways it would have been easier for me if little or nothing came from my fasting or my audacious prayer. Hebrews 11:6 is true. God rewarded my fasting. He granted my prayer.
I don't speak in tongues or heal people. I've never flopped around on the floor or lost control of bodily functions. There is no danger of me joining a Pentecostal Church. I bear witness that the Holy Spirit is real and that He lives in and engages in my life. I believe that He will answer the prayer I made for any Christian who asks.
Taking one day a week to fast was a separate practice, although the two things are linked. I had fasted before in my life, but hadn't made it a regular practice. Fasting on a weekly basis was sometimes enlightening. As the year went on there were times when it was merely functional. I had vowed that I would do it. I did it. That sometimes was all there was to that.
Other times the fasting seemed to allow me access to spiritual insights that I don't think I would have gained otherwise. Prayers in general this last year became more connected, not just on days I fasted. Prayers of praise and acknowledgement have been more frequent. I've had fewer incidents of praying for myself and more awareness of the needs of others and the plans of God.
It's been a weird and rewarding year spiritually.