Our church is having a time of prayer and fasting this weekend, and I thought it would be a good idea to dig deep into the reasons why we pray and fast. What does it mean and what does it look like?
As mentioned in my previous blog post, which you can read here; Gods Word guides us and gives us direction in life. What better way to start the year off than spending some dedicated time, reading it.
My first experience of prayer and fasting was when I was a teenager. I remember feeling famished, desperate for something to eat. At that point in my life, it was just a contest to see how long I could go without food as opposed to saturating my starved body with Gods Word, which is our daily bread. I’ve since matured; I like to think – and the idea of fasting has me fired up with excitement.
What does a time of prayer and fasting look like?
Martin Lloyd Jones says this about fasting: “Fasting should really be made to include abstinence from anything which is legitimate in and of itself for the sake of some special spiritual purpose.”
David Mathis says this in his article on fasting: “Without a purpose and plan, it’s not Christian fasting; it’s just going hungry.”
First and foremost, fasting is a heart decision made to dedicate time to seeking Gods face. There are many things in life that distract us and take us away from reading Gods Word and spending time in prayer. Often, we allow these distractions to take hold of our thinking and away from dedicated devotion to spending time with God. A time of prayer and fasting, is a time of self-discipline, dedicating time to seeking out Gods plan and purpose for us. The new year is a good time to spend time praying and fasting, searching the scriptures for some direction for the year that follows.
Do we have to fast food? No, not at all. My husband and I have chosen to give up TV and social media for our time of prayer and fasting. We have done this for a few reasons:
1. TV and social media grip at our attention if not more than food does and eliminating this for a few days and choosing to spend that time with Jesus would be far more beneficial for us.
2. We would like to teach our kids what prayer and fasting looks like. So together, as a family, we are going to give Peppa Pig, a little bit of a break. My girls each have a Bible that we’ve encouraged them to read. It really is a discipline that we all need to learn – switiching off the TV, and tuning in our ears to hear what God is saying.
How long does a fast last? As a church, we have chosen to fast from Friday night to Sunday morning. This works out to roughly two days. There is no set time period to how long we need to fast for, but the Bible does encourage us to fast, often.
What do you actually do during a fast? I like to sit with my journal and pen and write down the things I feel God saying about this year – and then I pray through them. Often, I do a little Bible study on topics or words that God has put on my heart. Sometimes, I just read my Bible. God does speak. All the time. We just need to listen. As we drown out the voices of the world, we are able to discern what is of God and what isn’t, and once we know what God is saying – we need to devote ourselves to His every word.
Sometimes, words are few and worry is much but prayer is simple, from your heart to God. I love this simply put translation of the Lords Prayer. I pray it would reawaken a praying heart within you.
We want to know You
And be close to You.
Please show us how.
Make everything in the world right again.
And in our hearts, too.
Do what is best – just like you do in heaven,
And please do it down here, too.
Please give us everything we need today.
Forgive us for doing wrong, for hurting you.
Forgive us just as we forgive other people,
When they hurt us too.
Rescue us! We need you.
We don’t want to keep running away
And hiding from you.
Keep us safe from our enemies.
You’re strong, God.
You can do whatever you want.
You are in charge.
Now and forever and for always.
We think You’re great.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 – For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Matthew 6:16 – When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.