Fasting & Prayer: A Corporate Pursuit of Nearness to God
What do you “consume” in this world that is distracting you from your relationship with God? Are you relying on things that have nothing to do with God to get you through your day? From time to time it is helpful for us to separate ourselves from for these things for a few weeks so that we can see God more clearly.
“He must increase and [we] must decrease.” - John 3:30
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” – James 4:8
You may experience many benefits from fasting (cleansing your body, breaking bad habits, etc.), but the goal of fasting is to know God. Currently, your life may be inordinately focused on things (many of them are good and right) but not ultimate. But for these four weeks, let’s refocus our priorities away from those things so that we may reorient our world around God.
Prepare your heart:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.” Psalm 139:23-24
Be willing to hear what God says and be willing to change. What are the paths of obedience he wants you to walk? Listen to his word, and resolve by his grace to repent, and move forward by his grace.
Prepare your motives: In 1 Samuel 16:7, God appears to Samuel and says,
"Do not consider his appearance or his height, outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."
Prepare your body: In 1 Corinthians 9:27, Paul explains,
“But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”
Fasting isn’t a challenge to see how long we can go, it’s a sacred pursuit of God through the sacrifice of certain pleasures for the purpose of communion with Him. That said, it will require bodily discipline.
Prepare your schedule: Decide how you will participate in this weekly fast. What will you eat? When will you eat? How you will spend your time differently? Remember, this season is about communing with God, so don’t fill your fasting time with distractions that will keep you from praying. Seek God. Create a plan and commit to spending serious and focused time with the Lord.
Some Helpful Guidelines:
Make sure your family knows in advance what you are doing.
Don’t complain or broadcast your plan to others.
Acknowledge that your flesh must be crucified (Romans 8:13) and pray for grace.
Journal as you meet with the Lord. Write down how God is speaking to you through his Word
TYPES OF FASTS
Selective Fast • Removing certain elements from your diet. • Example of Daniel, (Daniel 1:9) - abstaining from meat, sweets, or bread & wine; drink water and juice, and eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. Partial Fast • Abstaining from eating any type of food in the morning and afternoon. • Fast during specific times of the day, e.g. 6AM-3PM, or from sunup to sundown. Complete Fast • Drinking only liquids, typically water and/or light juices. • Broth or soup is sometimes included as options. • Consider speaking to a Medical Doctor if you plan to pursue this route. If you have not done this before, it may be wise to start with the “selective” or “partial” fast.