LIVING FOR THE FUTURE: 5 DAYS OF FASTING RESOURCES
During the last forty days of our Living for the Future campaign, we’ve encouraged all within The Well to focus on specific prayer requests for the coming year. Now, as 2019 begins, we are dedicating ourselves to a time of fasting. Before we fast, we must answer a few questions: What is fasting and why do we do it?
WHAT IS FASTING?
Fasting is a spiritual discipline. Simply put, it means not eating. Instead of using mealtime for food, you use it to spend time with God. Some fasts last for one meal, one day, multiple days, or even weeks. Fasting may begin at sunrise and end at sunset or extend 24 hours per day. There are many ways and reasons to fast, but the basic idea is to set aside the time you would usually spend eating and focus that time on God by praying, reading the Bible, and worshiping.
When you’re fasting, you’re likely to feel hunger pangs. Allow those to serve as reminders that you are hungry to know Jesus, and that you rely on Him for every need. When you pray, ask the Holy Spirit to deepen your understanding and experience of Jesus in everyday life. You might pray something like, “Father, you are my daily bread. You are my comforter, my redeemer, my provider. My life is hidden in Christ. What more do I need?”
A normal Biblical fast is to avoid food, but not water. However, you have a great deal of freedom as you fast. Choose something to abstain from to help you spend time in deliberate focused prayer. If you are pregnant, or if you’re unable to fast from food for any reason, you could consider abstaining from certain things like social media, television, or other items that are in your daily routine. So, when you pick up your phone to get on Facebook or Instagram and you don’t see the app on your phone (because you deleted it during the time of fasting) you'll be reminded to pray. At that time you can use the time you would normally spend on social media to focus your attention on Jesus through praying and reading the Bible.
WHY DO WE FAST?
The purpose of fasting is ultimately God himself. There are many reasons to undertake a fast, but the bottom line for them all is to align your heart directly with Him. Think of that as the big picture. So the first step for any kind of fast is to declare our immediate purpose. Fasting can’t be done casually because there isn’t any spiritual benefit in simply not eating. Going through the motions just makes us hungry, but genuine, purposeful fasting is a powerful discipline for the disciple of Jesus, and can play a part in literally transforming your life.
To help us define a godly purpose for fasting, Donald Whitney in his book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life gives us these 10 reasons:
To strengthen prayer
To seek God’s guidance
To express grief
To seek deliverance or protection
To express repentance and return to God
To humble oneself before God
To express concern for the work of God
To minister to the needs of others
To overcome temptation and dedicate yourself to God
To express love and worship to God
Throughout the Bible, we see people fast for a variety of reasons:
To be like Jesus (Matt. 4:1–17; Luke 4:1–13)
To obtain spiritual purity (Isa. 58:5–7)
To repent from sins (See Jon. 3:8; Neh. 1:4, 9:1–3; 1 Sam. 14:24)
To influence God (2 Sam. 12:16–23)
To mourn for the dead (1 Sam. 31:13; 2 Sam. 1:12)
To request God’s help in times of crisis and calamity (Ezra 8:21–23; Neh. 1:4–11)
To strengthen prayer (Matt. 17:21; Mark 9:17–29; Acts 10:30; 1 Cor. 7:5)
In all of this we are not twisting God’s arm to do what we want. God is a good father who is working out His sovereign will. Our reasons for fasting are for our own humility. By denying ourselves for a time, we provoke ourselves to rely more on God Almighty. It isn’t about changing God; it’s about changing us.
We pray more intently
We become more receptive to God’s guidance
We lean more on Scripture to hear His voice
We demonstrate our grief and honest repentance
We physically declare that we need God to survive
We learn to sense spiritual reality more than the physical world
We prepare to love others better than ourselves
Please consider joining us in our church-wide fast to dedicate this time to the Lord as we ask Him to do great and mighty things though The Well in 2019!