Prayer and Fasting

If your 2014 goals and resolutions include starting something new and growing closer to God, consider how that will be accomplished.  We intend to make more time for prayer, but our schedules are so full.  I actually calendar daily “appointments” for prayer.  It’s too easy to overlook.  Every year, our family takes a period of time for fasting.  It gets  posted on our annual calendar.  Have you ever fasted?

I used to absolutely cringe at the thought of fasting.  I envisioned overly zealous fanatics and hardcore health nuts depriving themselves of LIFE, having to crawl into the emergency room in need of an iv to revive them “back”.  dogwood park

Then, thirteen years ago our Pastor called our congregation to a 40 day church-wide fast.  Many of us were new to fasting, and I didn’t quite know what to expect.  I didn’t want to change my eating habits.  As one who eats healthy anyways, I knew I’d have a “limited menu”.

Those 40 days boosted my prayer life.  My relationship with God deepened substantially.  Fasting made me hungry for more of Him.

Fasting is very personal and private, even when you join others.  It’s a time to humble yourself; saying no to appetites, listening instead to the voice of Christ.

Everyone who participated in that 40 day fast was impacted in a great way.  My husband and I included our children, modifying the fast accordingly.   It’s now a special time of year our whole family looks forward to.  Every January we prepare our schedules and menus to unite with the people we share life with.  We value this annual time of prayer and fasting.

It’s a special time to draw closer to one another, as we draw closer to God.  We turn off the tv, say no to needless “grazing” and take time and focus to key in on our relationship with God.  Some of the most powerful times we’ve had with the Lord, have been times of prayer and fasting.

In our church, each family (even each individual) usually does their own type of fast.  Some fast from media, others omit all sweets and junk food.  Many do a Daniel fast eating only vegetables and nuts.  Some are more serious, fasting from all food.

Typically our fasts are 21 day days.  We finish the last day together with a special time of prayer and worship.  We then break the fast going out to celebrate with dinner.  I seriously love these days; so rich is the fellowship with God.

If you’ve never done a fast before, start simple and go easy.  Jentezen Franklin Ministries offer helpful resources online, many of which are free.

Get answers before you start a fast:

Why are you fasting?  What will your fast look like?  How long will it last?  Who will support and encourage you?  When and where will you make time to take time to be alone and listen to God?  

Schedule times for prayer throughout your day.  A scripture based devotional is a great tool to help you reflect and focus your thoughts on God rather than what you’re NOT eating or doing.  This is so important because it really is tempting to get caught up in the depravation and miss the whole point of WHY you’re fasting in the first place!

Keep in mind, that on an extended fast, the first 3 days will most likely be the most difficult.  And if you do mess up, don’t throw in the towel.  Just pick up and continue.  It will be worth it!

Our fast begins Sunday, Jan 12.  Devotionals will be posted daily on The Harvest website.  You can also hear a messages about fasting on The Harvest’s Podcast on ITunes.

Jesus didn’t say “If you fast.”  He said, “when you fast.”  Matthew 6:16

Fasting is a powerful way to humble your body, soul and spirit, placing focus on Christ above self.  “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  Jeremiah 29:13.   God never disappoints.  How better can we prioritize our time and attention?