With so much happening in our Church, in our local community, and our beloved country; we need to take a step back an reflect on God as we call on His name. Therefore, we as a church should take a day where we pray together for the various requests that have been going out. Yet, before we jump into it, perhaps we should take a moment to reflect on what we’ll be doing as we fast.
What is Fasting?
Generally speaking, fasting is voluntarily going without food — or any other regularly enjoyed, good gift from God — for the sake of some spiritual purpose (David Mathis).
Here’s the reality, Jesus assumes His followers will fast, and even promises it will happen. He doesn’t say “if,” but “when you fast” (Matthew 6:16). And He doesn’t say His followers might fast, but “they will” (Matthew 9:15).
Why do we Fast?
We fast in this life because we believe in the life to come. Fasting is for this world, for stretching our hearts to get fresh air beyond the pain and trouble around us. And it is for the battle against the sin and weakness inside us.
We express our discontent with our sinful selves and our longing for more of Christ. We don’t have to get it all here and now, because we have a promise that we will have it all in the coming age.
How to Start Fasting?
Fasting is hard. It can be surprising how on-edge we feel when we miss a meal. Yet, Fasting sounds so simple, but the world, our flesh, and the devil conspire to introduce all sorts of complications that keep it from happening. In view of helping us as a church, consider these six suggestions:
1. Start small:
Don’t go from no fasting to fasting for a weeklong. Start with one meal; maybe fast one meal a week for several weeks. Then try two meals, and work your way up to a daylong fast.
2. Plan what you’ll do instead of eating.
Fasting isn’t merely an act of self-deprivation, but a spiritual discipline for seeking more of God’s fullness. This means we should have a plan for what positive pursuit to undertake in the time it normally takes to eat. In this time, pray and mediate God’s word or some act of love for others (like giving away your planned lunch to someone in need.
3. Consider how it will affect others.
Fasting is no license to be unloving, in fact it reminds us to be compassionate and caring. It would be sad to lack concern and care for others around us because of this expression of heightened focus on God. Love for God and for neighbor go together.
Now practically, if you have regular lunches with colleagues or dinners with family or roommates, assess how your abstaining will affect them, and let them know ahead of time, instead of just being a no-show.
4. Try different kinds of fasting.
The typical form of fasting is personal, private, and partial, but we find a variety of forms in the Bible: personal and communal, private and public, congregational and national, regular and occasional, absolute and partial.
In particular, consider fasting together with your family, small group, or church. Do you share together in some special need for God’s wisdom and guidance? Is there an unusual difficulty in the church, or society, for which you need God’s intervention? Do you want to keep the second coming of Christ in view? Plead with special earnestness for God’s help by linking arms with other believers to fast together.
5. Fast from something other than food.
Fasting from food is not necessarily for everyone. Some health conditions keep even the most devout from the traditional course. However, fasting is not limited to abstaining from food. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “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.”
If the better part of wisdom for you, in your health condition, is not to go without food, consider fasting from television, computer, social media, or some other regular enjoyment that would bend your heart toward greater enjoyment of Jesus. Paul even talks about married couples fasting from sex “for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer” (1 Corinthians 7:5).
6. Don’t think of the idea of fulfilment.
When your empty stomach starts to growl and begins sending your brain every “feed me” signal it can, don’t be content to let your mind dwell on the fact that you haven’t eaten. If you make it through with an iron will that says no to your stomach, but doesn’t turn your mind’s eye elsewhere, it says more about your love for food than your love for God.
David Mathis states, “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.”