Fasting : Fall 2018
Starting in September, two incredible opportunities are coming your way for you to engage with the Lord on a deeper level with the Harvest community. First, we are encouraging weekly fasting on Fridays. Second, and in conjunction with Fasting Fridays, we are asking all who call Harvest home to join us on the last Sunday of each month for an evening of celebration and prayer.
But what is fasting? And, why would you want to fast? And even if you understand the what and the why, how would you get started? Those are 3 great questions! Let’s break those down:
WHAT IS FASTING?
Fasting is the intentional cessation of a specific activity in order to devote time to prayer and worship. More specifically, when we fast we are keeping ourselves from something good and right in order to declare God’s greater worth and draw near to him. Very importantly, fasting is not directly commanded in the New Testament for followers of Christ. But there are numerous example of fasting in the Bible and Jesus instructed his disciples on fasting in Matthew 6:16-18 by saying “When you fast…” This shows us that there is value in fasting, while we are not explicitly commanded to do it.
All of this means there is great freedom in regards to the regularity of our fasting, the specific form fasting takes, and the length of our fasting.
If fasting is not commanded by God for Christians, why should we do it? Let’s look at four primary reasons:
#1 Fasting is an opportunity to grow in godliness.
Fasting is not the “win” - growing closer to the Lord and increasing in godliness is the goal.
#2 Fasting is a chance to go after sin in your life.
Matthew Henry once said that fasting is “holy revenge upon ourselves.” When we fast, we are asking God to show us the things in our lives that while good, may be idols of our hearts that we need to surrender to him.
#3 Fasting helps us seek the Lord’s presence.
Fasting does not act as a coin into a proverbial pinball machine… i.e. if you fast long enough, God must give you your desires. We don’t fast for results as much as to draw near to the presence of God.
#4 We seek the Lord’s help when we fast
We declare our utter dependence on God when we fast and physically, tangibly remind ourselves in our fasting that he is our provider and strength.
HOW SHOULD WE FAST?
Christian, you are free to fast in a variety of formats and for any length of time. But remember this: fasting is designed as a sacrifice of something valuable to demonstrate God’s greater value and glory in our lives. So, fasting is not “dieting” - we don’t conveniently skip a meal here or there. When you fast, set that time aside from the activity you would be doing in order to seek God in prayer and worship.
Here are a few ways you can fast effectively, just to get ideas going so you can take it from here and decide how to fast:
• Fast from one meal
• Fast for an entire day (confirm you are healthy enough to do this and seek medical advice if you are at all concerned about this)
• Fast from a habitual activity. Do you watch a show on Thursday night? Consider fasting from that show for a season and spend that time in the Word, in prayer, and worship.
• Fast from social media. Every Friday, shut down from any Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social sites. Dedicate a block of time in that day to purse the Lord.
Some people, rather than preferring the flexibility stated above, would rather hear one suggestion for how to fast. For those folks, we suggest choosing a food fast. It is the most common and the most physically obvious form of fasting, and makes it easiest to participate in Fasting Friday. For example, every Friday consider skipping lunch. Use that 30-60 minutes to be alone with the Lord and seek him both personally and on behalf of Harvest’s search for a permanent facility.
Watch Pastor Scott’s video at the top of this post for even more depth and clarity on our purpose and goals in fasting together to the glory of God.