How spiritually hungry are we? As I meet with persecuted sisters and brothers around the world, I notice that their definition of “hunger” is often different than mine. They often exhibit a spiritual hunger that appears to keep their faith agile and alert.
I recall a long, bumpy ride in a tiny van across Northern India. I finished teaching a group of persecuted believers in a remote village. As I prepared to leave, a small, hunchbacked woman grabbed my hand and reached out to present an interesting gift. It was handmade, with intricate detail: a small box made of glass and plastic that looked like it was originally intended as a wedding gift. I’ve often wondered what the story behind this mysterious gift is. She clearly gave me something that was very precious to her. I was reminded of the vast difference in what we perceive as “valuable.”
When we are poor, even a little trinket brings us joy. When we are hungry, that first bite explodes with flavor!
On the ride home, I interviewed our host about some of his life experiences. Gafur’s face radiated with joy as he shared God’s goodness to him and his family in the midst of incredible suffering. Some of their suffering came because they live in India. Some of their suffering came because they were Christians living in India.
Gafur told me that there were many times he simply could not provide food for his family. He tried to find work. He served his village as a spiritual leader, and people helped when they could. But, Gafur shared, there were many months when it just wasn’t enough.
As a father of five, I tried to imagine the feelings I would experience if I were unable to provide basic necessities for my family. There is great joy in providing for our children and sharp pains when there are things we can’t provide.
What this man of God said next stunned me. Gafur exclaimed, “On the days that we didn’t have enough to eat, we just fasted and prayed.”
Fasting. Wow. That is a topic that we seem to have overlooked in our American culture.
As we consider Scripture it is clear that there is a relationship between fasting and spiritual hunger.
Daniel 10 is a remarkable window into spiritual warfare. In verse 2, Daniel reports that for three weeks “I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.”
Just a few verses later, we discover that on the day that Daniel began this fast, an angel was dispatched in response to his fervent prayers: “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words.” The rest of the story reveals the Angel’s incredible testimony about spiritual warfare!
Where did this story begin? It began with hunger. Daniel gave up “pleasant food, wine, meat.” Daniel desperately sought to hear from God; he humbled himself. Daniel was hungry—spiritually and physically! And Daniel experienced a spiritual breakthrough.
God has a message for you and me today: “Stay Hungry!”
Dr. Jason Peters serves in VOM’s International Ministries department, traveling frequently to meet with our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world. He lived overseas for five years and has ministered in more than 30 countries as diverse as Cuba, Nepal, Iraq, Nigeria and Indonesia. He and his wife, Kimberly, along with their five children, count it a great honor to serve with the persecuted church.