This was written specifically for my church, where we are looking forward to our annual 21-day season of prayer and fasting in January. However, it’s good encouragement for anyone thinking of incorporating fasting into their life. Enjoy!
We’re less than a month away from our yearly “504” (21 days x 24 hours, seeking God in a special way). So, I’m continuing this series to set our minds for this time.
I’m by no means an expert on the topic of fasting. However, I have attempted to make it a regular part of my lifestyle (with varying degrees of success and seriousness) for the last 15 years. I believe in the power of it, and desire to continue to grow in this grace. So, I’m hoping through these posts to encourage you and prepare you to engage in fasting in a meaningful and fruitful way.
The best advice I can give you is this: PLAN FOR IT:
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve entered into a fast (whether it was part of a day or many) and what unfortunately happened was, I simply didn’t eat. There was nothing special about how I spent the time or sought God. Those are very frustrating times that leave me thinking, “why didn’t I just eat??”. The point is, if you’re going to fast, make the most of it! To do so, you have to plan for it. So, here are a few things to consider:
- What kind of fast will you do?
Before discussing specifics I have to say this: IT ALL COUNTS! If all you do is give up sugar, if it’s unto the Lord, it counts! He sees and He will bless it! It’s not about how “hard” the fast is for you, it’s about your heart in the matter! “Bigger” is not necessarily better. If your heart is that it be “easy”, that’s all you’ll get – an easy fast. If your heart is to encounter Jesus deeply — you will!
If you are not experienced with fasting, or if you have a very strenuous job, I DO encourage you take an “easy” fast. However, you DO want it to be a challenge, because by pressing yourself, you are forced to lean into the Lord in a deeper way, and acknowledge your need for Him. This is where you find Grace! This is part of the beauty of fasting.
That being said then, as we’re looking toward a 21-day period, there are a few ways you can approach it:
–A “complete” fast – i.e. no food at all, just water. This can be a strenuous fast. Do it only if you feel you have the freedom of lifestyle and grace from the Lord to do it, or if you specifically feel He is “calling” you to do it.
–A “juice” fast. No food, just liquids. This is considerably easier, still challenging and requires definitive lifestyle adjustments for the fast period.
–A “Daniel” fast. A diet consisting mostly of fruits, vegetables and grains. This is fairly doable for anyone.
–Create your own! Fast completely three days each week. Or fast two meals every day (only one meal a day). Go with what you feel you will be able to stick with and/or what you feel the Spirit may be “calling” you to.
–“Non-food” fasts. There are great to do alone or in conjunction with a food fast. Here you make a conscious decision to “give up” certain things for a season. You may choose to do a media fast (no TV, movies, radio, etc.), a “word” fast (saying as little as possible, or refusing to talk about yourself, etc.), a “money” fast (stop spending in a certain area and give the money away in a way that honors the Lord). The possibilities are endless. Just think of it as a gift. Whatever you give to your Father, He will enjoy! So, be creative and have fun (yes, I said FUN in relation to fasting. For real.)
- Do LESS activity.
If your fast restricts food intake, this will happen naturally, since you may feel weak. But, in a practical way, you should schedule LESS things to do, so that you have more time to give toward seeking the Lord in prayer, Scripture meditation, worship, listening, etc. Spend your “eating” times in spiritual seeking. Turn off that TV show you always watch. Limit your computer time, etc. We’ll be hosting weekly corporate meetings for worship, prayer and teaching as well, because want to all do this together, so make room for that, too. Our church’s small groups will be on hiatus for these three weeks as well, to give priority to this.
- Keep a journal- start now!
It’s always great to be able to remember when the Lord speaks to you or answers a prayer (we forget so easily!). You can also expect that He will be encountering and speaking to you in a deeper way as you are seeking Him deeper (that IS His promise, after all!). Keeping a journal is a great way to make the most of this. Write down everything that He says and special Scripture passages that stick out to. Write down dreams that you have during this time and ask for their meaning. Write down inspired words you hear from others as well. You’ll be amazed, I’m sure of it! You may even want to begin NOW, by writing down what you’d like to see as you seek Him, or special prayer requests you want to focus on during that time. Have some expectation. He WILL meet you.
We still have a couple of weeks before the “504”. If you’re new to fasting, but want to make the most of this, try it smaller measures NOW. Especially if you think you want to do a pretty “serious” fast in January, try a few days now. Or if you’re very new to fasting, try a portion of a day several times and build up your “endurance”. He will meet you, even if this! As I said before, it all counts! J
Next time, I’ll talk about the REWARDS of fasting. Yes, there are rewards! The, you’ll REALLY want to jump in. J