January 03, 2019

Fasting and Prayer

21 Days of Prayer and Fasting starts January 7 at Evangel. Here is an in-depth look on the whys of fasting, and some ways to go about it.

So I have a confession to make: I am a curious person. I want to see what’s behind the curtain, around the corner, in the drawer, in the next city, and I love a good ‘whodunit’ mystery. Since I’m a curious person by nature, I like to know the whys behind all my questions. My current question has been regarding spiritual fasting. Now humor me for a minute and follow my thinking.

Why do doctors make you fast before they do blood work?

  • A quick Google search and I have my first answer. Fasting helps ensure that the blood test records an accurate measure of blood sugar levels.
  • It also gives an accurate assessment of other hidden factors you may not know are underlying concerns.
  • And a final word from the professionals: Don’t wait until the day of your blood draw to ask if you should fast, but plan ahead to have the best success.

So why should we do a spiritual fast?

  • First, Jesus fasted! We want and need to be more like Jesus so we follow His example. You can read about what happened during Jesus’ time in the wilderness where He fasted 40 days and 40 nights and was tempted by the devil in Matthew 4.
  • Second, it gives a more accurate read on our spiritual life–our connectedness to God. In the same way that fasting for a medical appointment provides the doctor with accurate knowledge, a spiritual fast with prayer creates a unique dependence and awareness of God in our daily lives.
    Fasting may be a catalyst that prepares us for our next journey, just as it did for Jesus. After the devil tempted Jesus in Matthew 4, Jesus begins his ministry and chooses his disciples. Big decisions!
  • Lastly, it teaches us how to war spiritually. In Mark 9:29 (HCSB) the disciples questioned why they weren’t able to perform a miracle, and Jesus responded by saying, ”This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.” There is a deeper spiritual level that is introduced through prayer and fasting.

What’s the benefit to prayer and fasting?

  • Be prepared. Plan ahead and anticipate your need for dependance on God, right now. Disaster relief agencies always tell us to prepare before an emergency hits. Military troops train for war before they’re called to action. What if we develop good spiritual practices before the seasons gets difficult?
  • Fasting might reveal hidden areas in our lives that God wants to bring into the light. There are mysteries He wants to reveal to you. Listen, just listen … God speaks in a gentle whisper. Jeremiah 33:3 (NASB) says “Call to me and I will answer you, I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” The expectation of calling on God and waiting for that answer is part of maturing spiritually.
  • Another benefit of fasting is that God answers the cries of a desperate heart. David Mathis writes, “Fasting is a desperate measure, for desperate times, among those who know themselves desperate for God.” Our goal for fasting and prayer is not to get what we want but to move closer to God’s heart. Become desperate to hear Him speak to you! “Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7 (HCSB)

If you’ve been considering fasting (and I think you should) below are a few ideas of how and what to fast, along with resources to help you along this journey. When you fast, you are giving up something that has become habitual, (food, coffee, social media) in order to see spiritual breakthrough. Replace that item with prayer and a hunger for God’s presence.

Get a little curious about Who God is. Dig a little deeper into the Bible to find out about His character, and spend time fasting and praying to develop a dependence on Him. I can’t wait to see what you will discover!

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Ways to fast:
  • Fast 1, 2, or 3 meals a day
  • Liquids-only fast
  • 21-day Daniel fast
  • Fast sugar, coffee, or other item that is sacrificial
  • Fast media
  • Fast shopping or spending
Resources:
  • “Praying the Bible” by Donald S. Whitney
  • “The Circle Maker” by Mark Batterson
  • “Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God” by Timothy Keller
  • “Fasting” by Jentezen Franklin
  • “The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast” by Kristen Feola
  • “A Hunger for God” by John Piper
  • “Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough” by Elmer L. Towns
  • 21 Days of Fasting & Prayer – YouVersion Bible-reading plan by James River Church
Personal questions to ask while fasting:
  • What am I asking God to do during these 21 days?
  • What or who am I specifically praying for?
Personal job-related questions to ask while fasting:
  • Who is God asking me to lead in my current position?
  • What is God asking me to do this year in my area of influence?
Unified prayer for church and staff while fasting. Please join in praying:
  • For continued favor in reaching the northern Great Plains region for Jesus.
  • For those that made a decision to follow Jesus, that they would live fully-devoted to Him.
  • For people to live out the breakthrough they experienced in 2018.
  • For protection and wisdom for Pastor Josh and Jenaye, our pastors, staff, and board.
  • For the wisdom, energy, and finances needed to successfully complete local, global, and future initiatives.
  • For all people to experience a deeper hunger for God’s Word.
  • For success for all Bible-believing churches across our community and region.
Want to give above and beyond to Legacy Makers? You can give money saved in areas of sacrifice:
  • 1 meal/day $5 x 21 = $105
  • 2 meals/day $10 x 21 = $210
  • 3 meals/day $15 x 21 = $315
  • 1 coffee drink/day $3 x 21 = $63
  • 1 soda per day $1 x 21 = $21

PDF Guide to Fasting

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