He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit so they will produce even more. – John 15:2 NLT
When God gave me the idea of planting a church in Olathe, Kansas, in 1985, it came with what I
thought was a very unusual request. I believed God was asking me to fast from TV for a year. I was
familiar with fasting from food, and I was not opposed to some form of that. I have participated in a
variety of different kinds of food fasts, and the benefits were clear to me. I have to be honest; a fast
from TV was not something I wanted. I love sports; I am zealous about keeping up with the news; I
even enjoy watching the weather forecast! But at the same time I felt like I had a good handle on not
being obsessed with TV. So the request didn’t make a ton of sense to me. In my mind it wasn’t a big
time stealer, so why?
God doesn¡¦t have to answer to us. We have to answer to him and my answer was yes. The
first few weeks, I went through withdrawal. It was hard to turn away from TV and hard not to turn
it on in my home. I think there was more of an addiction than I had realized. But as time moved
forward, I came to understand that the purpose in my fasting was not so much what I was leaving
behind as what I was moving toward. I think what God wanted for me was the ability to focus. You
could call it pruning in a spiritual sense. I needed to hear clearly and often from him in planting a
new church. I needed a new skill set, and I needed to use my time in a different way. I needed
generous time to be alone with God. Time for prayer, time in his Word, time to journal, and time to
pray were high priority. At the very same time, my family needed me. My wife needed alone time. I
had three children under the age of five. They needed me. They could feel the strain of a new
schedule, new city, new church, and new friends, only they didn’t have words for it. Fasting from
TV made room in my life that I didn’t know I had.
As much as I may not have wanted to believe it was true, I needed less noise in my life, and
God knew it. And wouldn’t you know it, the only time the Kansas City Royals have ever gone to the
World Series was during that time. We even had a watch party after church one Sunday that I
couldn’t watch! But to cut to the end of the story, God was so on target that when the end of the
year came, I extended it by another six months voluntarily.
I look back on that time of fasting with a tender sense that God invited me into a uniquely
intimate place with him and through it prepared me to bear kingdom fruit. If God calls you to fast,
whatever it is, say yes.
Lord, I want to know you better and love you more. I know that you know best. I listen and follow when you speak.
Give me your strength so my actions match what I say I believe.
– Pastor Gary Kendall, Indian Creek Community Church, Olathe, Kansas