Fasting is a discipline. It is a time to get serious about prayer and intimacy with the Lord, turning aside from the usual routines in order to seek God’s direction and power. When you fast from food, you are reminded that you are dependent on God’s daily provision, and even the growling of your stomach will serve as a reminder to stop for the moment and pray.
We see multiple examples of fasting and prayer in Scripture, so this is a biblical, spiritual work to draw you close to God. Our church, First Baptist Church of Mt Healthy, is having a church wide 48 hour fast for this very reason: to seek God’s vision, guidance, and provision as we grow in our love for Him and the community we are located.
That said, here’s some items to keep in mind as you fast:
- Fast Secretly. No one needs to know that you are fasting. Even though we are fasting church wide, there’s no way to know who is and who is not fasting. This is a discipline that’s between the Lod and you. Jesus said as much in Matt 6:18.
- Fast Regularly. Let this be a steady, ongoing discipline that you do on your own every so often. Make sure that it’s a regular practice, as long as it’s not relegated to a cold, ritualistic activity that loses focus (Luke 18:9-14).
- Fast Purposefully. So often, we do practices without really understanding the reason and the purpose for them. Be sure that when you fast and pray, that there is a purpose to this time of intimacy. In other words, don’t just do it because others are doing it. Make it a memorable, faith growing experience.
- Fast Wisely. not everyone can fast meals because of health reasons. If you are diabetic or have other health conditions, consider fasting something else. One good type of fast might be to have a time of no screens such as cell phones, TV, or computer. The point is to place God first and grow closer to Him, not to put your health in jeopardy.
- Fast Willingly. nothing that is done for the Lord should be forced upon an individual. For example, the discipline of giving to the Lord is something that has to be done willingly and not begrudgingly. Likewise, there’s no difference in the example of fasting and prayer. Don’t just do it because one of your leaders says you must do this, especially if you think this is what makes a “good Christian” and failing to do it makes you a “bad Christian.” Such thinking is actually unhealthy and contrary to the concept of grace.
- Fast Joyfully. When you fast, be joyful. There’s nothing worse than a person fasting and being grouchy about it- believe me, I know this from experience! As a guy who loves to eat, I get a little grouchy when I skip a meal. As a result, I have to really watch how I act, think, and speak to those closest to me. Kind of self defeating otherwise, right? Instead, follow Jesus’ commands in Matthew 6 and wash your face, showing joy instead of mourning.
There you have it. As you fast and pray, keep these things in mind. I’d love to hear other ideas and warnings. Any thoughts?