Read part 5 here.
The musical service for the church was coming up and the choir members were to engage themselves in one week prayer and fasting in preparation for the program. They were also supposed to meet every evening for a short prayer session.
Charlotte sat at her desk at work, listening and singing along to Matt Redman’s Mercy song when a colleague came in holding a small white polythene bag with the ‘Thank You’ inscription.
“I bought enough waakye for us all. Please come and eat,” she said and she sat. Charlotte and the others quickly got out of their seats and joined their colleague with the food.
“Thank you Lord for this food, amen.” After swallowing her first mouthful of the food and then biting into the meat, Charlotte remembered she was supposed to be fasting.
“Oh, the devil is a liar,” she said in a frustrated tone as she dropped the meat into the bowl.
“Why, what’s wrong?”
“I’m supposed to be fasting this week.”
“Really? But you finished that bowl of fufu yesterday without apology. Or was yesterday excluded?”
“Nah; it’s just that fasting on Mondays never work for me. My tummy grumbles so much that I feel like it would burst out if I don’t fill it. I zoom into it on Tuesdays but it seems I’ve failed. You tempted me, Naa!” She said accusingly to her colleague.
“Oh, how was I to know you were seeking the face of God? Next time, make a banner across your desk.” The others laughed. Charlotte stared at the food which was quickly clearing from the bowl.
“Ah well, since I’ve already…ah, who took my meat?”
“Which one?” a male colleague said as he put the meat in his mouth and licked his fingers.
“So it’s finished?”
“Instead of going to pray for forgiveness, you’re still looking for meat?”
“I’ll ask when I’m done eating. God understands. He knows my weakness,” Charlotte said and put another spoonful of the rice into her mouth. She knew she was going to regret it; eating insufficient amount of food on an empty stomach was calling for gastric torture. But she would endure it. She was strong like that.
“Hey,” Sandra greeted as she sat next to Charlotte.
“Is it me or your cheeks are filling up? How is it that you look much better when we are fasting?” Charlotte asked.
“I’m on Daniel’s diet.”
“Daniel’s diet? Which one is that?”
“Oh my dear, I’m talking of the biblical Daniel. Remember the part where he decided not to defile himself with the king’s rich food and feed on vegetables and water? It works magic, girl.”
“That’s your definition of fasting?”
“Oh I do fast; I just break it at lunch time. My job is stressful ooo…dealing with the kakai of a boss on an empty tummy is a surety for trauma. But I pray. God knows my heart.”
Oh so she wasn’t the only one struggling with the 6 to 6 fasting schedule. She was grateful that God was merciful to weaklings like them.
Frank and Pastor Emma walked in. He was the pastor in charge of the music department. He wore a very warm smile and cleaned up very nicely. Charlotte wondered if he had a nice voice. How spiritually romantic it would be to listen to him sing one of Fred Hammond’s love songs…
Stop it, Charlotte; she scolded herself. They responded when he greeted them.
“So how’s the fasting going? Is your body adjusting to it?”
“Is drinking coconut water out of place when fasting?” one of the male singers asked. Some chuckled.
“I know staying off food whiles working could be taxing so you could break it a little earlier so you can get the energy to work. The most important thing is spend quality time in studying of God’s word and praying. How’s that one going? Have you been meditating on the Bible verses I sent you?”
Oh he sent them messages? Charlotte checked her phone.
“What messages?” she whispered to Sandra.
“The ones Frank has been posting on our WhatsApp group.”
Oh, she said in a disappointed tone.
“This is a very serious assignment. It is not just for you to show off your vocal skills; it is not showbiz. You’re going to minister to souls who are needy, frustrated, broken, confused, and hungry and God is going to touch them through you. You’re God’s vessels to be used in His house and in order for God to use you, you should come out and separate yourselves; cleanse yourselves from every defilement of the body and spirit and make holiness perfect in the fear of God, the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 7:1. God is a holy God and so if you want to be used by Him, you should be pure. That is why we’ve set aside this week for prayer and fasting. To go to God and ask for forgiveness and ask Him to renew your hearts and mind in order to serve Him wholeheartedly.”
“When we say fasting, we’re not just saying stay away from food. It is the time to stay away from anything that would distract your focus from God. What do you watch or listen to during the day? Does it keep you thinking of God or does it paint sensual images in your head? Does your focus on God end when you break your fast or do you keep communicating with him even on your bed? Have you asked Him what He needs you to do for him during this time and the program?”
The auditorium was dead silent.
“Are you preparing yourself for the spiritual warfare you’d be engaged in on this podium this coming Sunday? Is your heart in the right place? Are you holding grudges against each other in the choir? Where are you going from here? Are you going to visit your friend with benefits and offer yourself as a warm-blooded sacrifice to be smooched or are you going home to commune with God?”
Some of the choristers began to fidget in their seats. It was obvious the message was rubbing uncomfortably on them.
“As much as your physical presentation is important, it dims considerably when compared to the hearts you’d be having as you stand to sing. Let’s be on our feet and pray.” They stood.
“Let’s hold each other’s hands and pray for the ones whose hands you’ve held. Commit them to God for their hearts to be renewed and be prepared for Sunday’s service.”
After thirty minutes of intensive prayer, Pastor Emma asked for anyone to conclude the prayers. After some seconds of silence, Comfort started to pray.
“Amen,” they all said when she ended the prayer. After they had shared the grace, Charlotte asked Sandra where she was headed.
“Hmm…after Pastor Emma’s words, I’m going home ooo. I was planning on visiting a friend but I’ve changed my mind. Tomorrow God willing, I’ll take the fasting more seriously,” Sandra said.
“Yeah, me too. Being in the choir now seems more than singing Christian songs on stage, right?”
“Uh huh…with all my issues, I’m beginning to wonder if I deserve to be here.”
“We all don’t but thank God He doesn’t hold our past against us.”
“Past? Talk about now!” Charlotte smiled.
“We’re not perfect; hey, we might be the least perfect among the lot here but God can still use us if we let Him.” Sandra nodded and they hugged.
“Pray for me, will you?”
“I will under one condition: that you pray for me too.”
© Josephine Amoako 2017
Read next part here.
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