Prayer and fasting are biblically instructed ways we develop a closer walk with God.
What we’re saying to God when we fast and pray is,
“God, I want more of you and less of me.”
Ask yourself, what am I allowing to come between me and a closer, more serious walk with God? Much of God’s blessing, favor, help, and nearness comes from a posture of surrender. Therefore, we invite you to join us as we devote ourselves to seeking God as a church in prayer and fasting during March.
WHAT IS FASTING?
In, Habits of Grace, David Mathis says,
“Fasting is an exceptional measure, designed to channel and express our desire for God and our holy discontent in this fallen world. It is for those who want more of God. It is for those who feel truly desperate for God.”
Martyn Lloyd-Jones says,
“Fasting could include abstinence from anything legitimate in and of itself for the sake of some special spiritual purpose.”
But normal Christian fasting means privately and occasionally choosing to go without food (though not without water) for some special period (whether a day or three or seven) in view of some specific spiritual purpose. In short, fasting is abstaining from food for measured periods of time to heighten our hunger for the things of God.
According to Don Whitney, fasting’s spiritual purposes include:
Strengthening prayer (Ezra 8:23); (Joel 2:13); (Acts 13:3)
Seeking God’s guidance (Judges 20:26); (Acts 14:23)
Expressing grief (1 Samuel 31:13); (2 Samuel 1:11-12)
Seeking deliverance or protection (2 Chronicles 20:3-4) (Ezra 8:21-23)
Expressing repentance and returning to God (1 Samuel 7:6); Jonah 3:5-8)
Humbling oneself before God (1 Kings 21:27-29); (Psalm 35:13)
Expressing concern for the work of God (Nehemiah 1:3-4); (Daniel 9:3)
Overcoming temptation and dedicating yourself to God (Matthew 4:1-11)
Expressing love and worship to God (Like 2:37)
What do you “consume” in this world that distracts you from your relationship with God? Are you relying on things that have nothing to do with God to get you through your day? From time to time, it is helpful to separate ourselves from these things for a few weeks to see God more clearly.
FASTING GOAL: A CORPORATE PURSUIT OF NEARNESS TO GOD
“He must increase and [we] must decrease.” - John 3:30
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” – James 4:8
You may experience many benefits from fasting (cleansing your body, breaking bad habits, etc.), but the goal of fasting is to know God. Currently, your life may be inordinately focused on things (many of them are good and right) but not ultimate. But for these four weeks, let’s refocus our priorities away from those things so that we may reorient our world around God.
Prepare your heart:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.” - Psalm 139:23-24
Be willing to hear what God says and be willing to change. What are the paths of obedience he wants you to walk? Listen to his word, and resolve by his grace to repent, and move forward by his grace.
Prepare your motives:
In 1 Samuel 16:7, God appears to Samuel and says,
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (1 Sa 16:7). (2016). Crossway Bibles.
Prepare your body:
In 1 Corinthians 9:27, Paul explains,
“But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”
Fasting isn’t a challenge to see how long we can go, it’s a sacred pursuit of God through the sacrifice of certain pleasures for the purpose of communion with Him. That said, it will require bodily discipline.
Prepare your schedule:
Decide how you will participate in this weekly fast. What will you eat? When will you eat? How you will spend your time differently? Remember, this season is about communing with God, so don’t fill your fasting time with distractions that will keep you from praying. Seek God. Create a plan and commit to spending serious and focused time with the Lord.
Some Helpful Guidelines:
• Make sure your family knows in advance what you are doing. • Don’t complain or broadcast your plan to others. • Establish some trusted accountability for prayer & encouragement. • Spend as much time as you are able, alone in prayer and communion with God.
• Acknowledge that your flesh must be crucified (Romans 8:13) and pray for grace.
• Journal as you meet with the Lord. Write down how God is speaking to you through his Word.
TYPES OF FASTS
Selective Fast • Removing certain elements from your diet. • Example of Daniel, (Daniel 1:9) - abstaining from meat, sweets, or bread & wine; drink water and juice and eat a variety of fruits and vegetables.
Partial Fast • Abstaining from eating any type of food in the morning and afternoon. • Fast during specific times of the day, e.g., 6AM-3PM, or from sunup to sundown.
Complete Fast • Drinking only liquids, typically water and/or light juices. • Broth or soup is sometimes included as options. • Consider speaking to a Medical Doctor if you plan to pursue this route. If you have not done this before, it may be wise to start with the “selective” or “partial” fast.
“The tendency of fire is to go out; watch the fire on the alter of your heart. Anyone who has tended a fireplace knows that it needs to be stirred up occasionally.” ~ William Booth
Join us during the Month of March to seek the Lord in prayer. Each week we will have a prayerful focus on both personal and corporate renewal. Download the prayer guide below.