When you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting. (Matt. 6:17–18)

FASTING IS TOUGH. I’ve never enjoyed fasting, and I’ve certainly never been successful with the practice. But a few months ago, I felt very strongly that God wanted me to fast and pray. My friend has terminal brain cancer, and God made it clear to me that I am to fast one day a week until she is healed. Whether her healing will be a miracle or a transition to eternity, I don’t know. I just know I’m supposed to fast until one of those two things happens.

When I e-mailed my friend to tell her I was fasting and praying for her on Tuesdays, she responded, “Tuesdays are my most difficult days! That’s when I go for treatments, and when I usually feel the worst.” That was all I needed.

The first Tuesday, I bounced out the door and off to university. In my last class of the afternoon, the professor brought ice cream for everyone. Seriously! I wasn’t tempted to eat, but I did consider saying to the student next to me, “I’d love to, but I can’t; I’m fasting.” That would have put me squarely in the camp of the “hypocrites” Jesus mentioned, and that’s the last place I want to be.

I can’t tell you when or how to fast, but I can tell you the Bible says “when you fast” not “if.” I can also tell you fasting will change your relationship with food and your relationship with God. You will grow stronger and deeper in your walk with Him, and you won’t even miss that ice cream!

Demonstrate your trust in God by fasting and praying this week.

Mary McNeil Blackford is a full-time student and freelance editor. She and her husband, Rick, live in Erie, Pennsylvania, with their three dogs.