If you want to go deeper in your spiritual life, 21 Days of Prayer is a great place to start. This year our theme is "God With Us." At our daily prayer sessions, we will focus on recognizing God's presence in every aspect of our life. We would love for you to join us as we gather to deepen our relationship with God. Prayer sessions are held:
Weekdays at 6:30 am, January 1-20
at The Family Center (6358 Delmar Blvd., 2nd Floor)
The goal of fasting is to draw nearer to God. Biblical fasting always has to do with eliminating distractions for a spiritual purpose. Fasting hits the reset button of our soul and renews us from the inside out. It also enables us to celebrate the goodness and mercy of God and prepares our hearts for all the good things God desires to bring into our lives. Remember, your personal fast should present a level of challenge, but it is very important to know your body, your options, and, most importantly, to seek God in prayer and follow what the Holy Spirit leads you to do. Also, be sure to seek medical advice before the fast, especially if you have any existing medical concerns or conditions.
Types of Fasts
- Complete Fast: This fast calls for drinking only liquids, typically water with light juices as an option.
- Selective Fast: This type of fast involves removing certain elements from your diet. One example of a selective fast is the Daniel Fast, during which you remove meat, sweets, or bread from your diet and consume water and juice for fluids and fruits and vegetables for food.
- Partial Fast: This fast involves abstaining from eating any type of food in the morning and afternoon. This can either correlate to specific times of the day, such as 6:00 am to 3:00 pm, or from sunup to sundown.
- Soul Fast: This fast is common for those who do not have much experience fasting food, who have health issues that prevent them from fasting food, or who wish to refocus certain areas of their life that are out of balance. For instance, someone might select to abstain from using social media or watching television for the duration of the fast, and then choose to carefully bring that element back into their life in an orderly fashion at the conclusion of the fast.
Reasons for Fasting?
1) Because Jesus instructs us to fast: When instructing his followers about fasting, Jesus did not say, “If you fast” but “When you fast." Matthew 6:16. In other words, Jesus assumed that his followers would practice the spiritual disciple of fasting from time to time. Indeed, later in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus explained that his disciples would fast after he was taken from them: "'The attendants of the bridegroom cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them. But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.'" Matthew 9:14-15. As followers of Jesus, we are expected from time to time to abstain from our normal practices of consumption, and spend time in prayer and scripture reading in order to draw closer to God.
2) For strength in a spiritual enterprise: When Moses received the Ten Commandments, he was fasting for forty days. Exodus 34. Before Jesus launched his public ministry, he fasted for forty days in the wilderness. Matthew 4. When Jesus' disciples were unable to free a young man from an oppressive spirit, Jesus stated that performing such an act required "prayer and fasting." Matthew 17:21. When Paul and Barnabus were preparing to launch a missionary venture, they and the other Christians around them prayed and fasted prior to the journey. Acts 13. As we launch into 2017, we want to strengthen ourselves by drawing closer to God through prayer and fasting.
3) To express repentance and contrition for our sin: Several passages throughout the Bible demonstrate that God's people fast as a means of demonstrating their penitence before God. For instance, the prophet Joel commanded the Israelites to fast as a means of repenting after they had wandered away from intimacy with God: “'Yet even now,' declares the LORD, 'Return to me with all your heart, and with fasting, weeping and mourning.'" Joel 2:12-13. See also 1 Samuel 7 and Nehemiah 9. In light of our tendency to sin, it is advisable that we occasionally humble ourselves and demonstrate our contrition to God through prayer and fasting.
4) That God will honor our requests: Throughout scripture, when God's people sought His specific intervention in their lives, they often accompanied their prayers with fasting. See Esther 4, Ezra 8. Indeed, Jesus promises that when you fast with right motives, God will reward you for your efforts. Matthew 6:16-18. If you are facing particularly daunting challenges, fasting accompanied by prayer is a great way to seek God's help and assistance as you move with courage and power towards the difficulties before you.
For more Prayer and Fasting Resources, CLICK HERE.
Tips for a Successful Fasting Experience
1. Seek medical advice before the fast, especially if you have any existing medical concerns or conditions.
2. Encourage a few close friends or family members to you to join you in fasting. Fasting can be especially productive when done in community.
3. Choose a specific prayer objective when fasting. Fasting without prayer is like sailing without wind.
4. Pray about the specific type of fast that is appropriate for you.
5. Prepare physically. Two to three days before your fast, limit your intake of food to fruit and vegetables. Drink lots of water to help your body detoxify.
6. Prepare yourself for mental discomforts such as impatience, crankiness, and anxiety.
7. Anticipate some physical discomforts. You may initially experience dizziness, headaches and various aches and pains.
8. Spend time that you would be eating (or whatever practice from which you abstaining) reading the Bible and praying.
8. Break the fast slowly over several days with fruit juice or light soups.