Fasting in 2018
Whenever we turn the page on our calendar into a new year, we're all confronted with the many unknowns before us. We're also pressed to consider goals for the future and things we would like to see in the year ahead. With these same burdens in mind, we're calling The Brook family to fast and pray together from January 7-14, 2018. Our prayer burden is to see God glorified in our lives, homes, and community. We yearn to see him move mightily among us leading people to Jesus, bringing about repentance, restoring joy, healing marriages, increasing faith, mobilizing missionaries, planting churches, raising God-fearing children, and making disciples.
We do recognize that many misunderstandings and confusion exists when talk about prayer and fasting, so let's gain some clarity together.
Why We Fast
David Mathis writes, "Fasting is voluntarily going without food — or any other regularly enjoyed good gift from God — for the sake of some spiritual purpose." In the Bible, fasting is primarily abstaining from food for a period of time in order to focus more on seeking God through prayer. We see that fasting should be a regular part of the Christian life when Jesus told his disciples, "when you fast..." (Matthew 6:16-18), implying that fasting is a matter of "when" not a matter of "if." He also says that his followers will fast in the days after he raises from the dead and ascends into heaven (i.e. in our days, Luke 5:33-35)
Public and Private Fasting
Fasting is sometimes done privately and at other times done publically. In this case, we are calling on a public fast where we as a church want to lock arms in prayer and fasting. We see in the Bible times of national fasts (2 Chronicles 20:3) and churchwide fasts (Acts 13:1-3). For an unpacking of Acts 13, listen to my message on prayer and fasting titled, "Praying for God's Leading." I've also preached extensively on fasting in another sermon titled, "When Prayer Meets Fasting" if you want to hear more.
How to Fast these 7 Days
We desire that all in our church family will resolve to pray and fast from January 7-14. This, though, may look differently for everybody. Some may have health reasons why they shouldn't abstain from food. Others may find that abstaining from other enjoyments/distractions will prove beneficial in their pursuit of God. While we highly encourage absaining from food for a portion or all of those seven days, here are several ideas on how to fast during this period of time:
- Drink liquids only (pray during your normal meal times)
- Eat only fruit and vegetables
- Eat one meal a day focus on prayer instead
- Don't eat from sun up to sun down (create a new rythm that doesn't revolve around food)
- Abstain from Social Media and use the time you gain for prayer
Fast with a Purpose
Ask, what are some primary prayer burdens that I carry as I fast? Perhaps is praying for your home church, your purpose and calling in life, an important decision on the horizon, a wayward child, a family member who has rejected Jesus, a struggling marriage, contentment amidst unmet desires, living with a greater missional urgency, healing, seeing a straying sister or brother come to repentance, for greater faith in your life, for a more vibrant prayer life, for the gospel to advance in our city, for churches to be planted, living more aware that Jesus is coming back, etc.
David Mathis gives this helpful summary: "Christian fasting turns its attention to Jesus or some great cause of his in the world. Christian fasting seeks to take the pains of hunger and transpose them into the key of some eternal anthem, whether it’s fighting against some sin, or pleading for someone’s salvation, or for the cause of the unborn, or longing for a greater taste of Jesus."