21 Days of Prayer and fasting

When is the last time you entered into an extended spiritual fast? Fasting is ultimately an expression of humility and dependence on God. Fasting is more about replacing than it is about abstaining. It is about replacing the daily intakes of food, entertainment, and human contact with focused times of prayer, feeding on large amounts of the Word of God, and spiritual listening. One of the great benefits of spiritual fasting is a heightened awareness of God’s presence and power in our lives. It is not that God has moved but that we have. Fasting has a great way of moving us toward a deeper spiritual dependency and away from willful self dependency. Take a few minutes this week and read through the scriptures, insights, and reflective questions in order to sharpen the spiritual discipline of fasting in your life.

FASTING & FIRST CHURCH

There have been many times in our church’s history where we gathered for extended times of prayer, seeking God and His wisdom for us. This is one of those unique times. God has been so gracious to us in the 100 years of our church’s existence. He is calling us to this fast together.


Let us declare with the Psalmist as we boldly say,

“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah 2 that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations.

3 Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!
4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Selah

5 Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! 6 The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, shall bless us. 7 God shall bless us; let all the ends of the earth fear him!

PSALM 67

DURING THIS FAST, PASTOR DARIN IS ASKING OUR CHURCH TO PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR THESE 4 ITEMS:

  1. Submission to God's will for our church and our lives.
  2. Wisdom and direction as we seek to minister in these difficult days. 
  3. Many will hear and respond to the Gospel in 2021.
  4. We will respond to the call to take the Gospel to the ends of the Earth.

- As a church body, we want to encourage one another to pray Psalm 67:1-2 over our

lives and families. In the blanks below, list 3-5 specific prayer items you are going to

pray for during your fast. Be specific! Ask, in God’s will, for that which you need. “For

the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing

does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Psalm 84:11

INSIGHTS

“Like all the Spiritual Disciplines, fasting hoists the sails of the soul in hopes of experiencing the gracious wind of God’s Spirit. But fasting also adds a unique dimension to your spiritual life and helps you grow in Christlikeness in ways that are unavailable through any other means. If this were not so, there would have been no need for Jesus to model and teach fasting.” 

~ Donald Whitney


“Fasting is not about changing God. It is not a mystical exercise to gain God’s approval. Fasting is not about changing my world, but about letting God realign my heart toward his purposes.” 

~ Alex Gee


“Fasting is calculated to bring a note of urgency and importunity into our praying, and to give force to our pleading in the court of Heaven. The man who prays with fasting is giving Heaven notice that he is truly in earnest....Not only so, but he is expressing his earnestness in a divinely appointed way. He is using a means that God has chosen to make his voice to be heard on high.”

~ Arthur Wallis

TYPES OF FASTS

There are several kinds of fasts, and there is no formula for determining which kind of fast, or duration is most important for you. The following are three Biblical examples of fasting:

1. THE NORMAL FAST:

In this type of fast the person abstained from food but not water. The duration can be that which the individual or group feels led to set. Jesus fasted for 40 days(Matthew 4:2). However, the more common practice of a normal fast appears to be from one to three days.

2. THE PARTIAL FAST:

In this type of fast, the emphasis is placed on restriction of diet, rather than abstaining completely from eating. Examples are: Daniel, Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego eating only vegetables and drinking only water
(Daniel 1:15) and later on when Daniel alone practiced a partial fast for three weeks (Daniel 10:3).

3. THE ABSOLUTE FAST:

An absolute fast is one in which the person refrains from both food and water. This type of fast is not to exceed three days. Exceptions to this three day limit (1 Kings 19:8; Deuteronomy 9:9-18 and Exodus 34:28) were based upon direct, divine guidance and care. Examples of the absolute fast are: Moses

(Deuteronomy 9:9-18 and Exodus 34:28); Elijah (1 Kings 19:8); Ezra (Ezra 10:6); Esther and her household (Esther 4:16); and Paul (Acts 9:9).


Fasting cleanses the body and refreshes the soul. During a fast the body cleanses, purifies, and essentially resurrects itself. Nature tells us to fast. When we have no appetite during an illness, fasting is nature’s way to accelerate recovery. Fasting is NOT starvation. It is reasonable for a healthy individual to fast for 2 or 3 days without supervision.


DURING A FAST, ALWAYS DEVOTE TIME TO:

-Reading God’s Word

-Praying
-Focusing on God

-Worshiping

-Serving/helping others

EIGHT STEPS TO EFFECTIVE FASTING

1. Fast SENSIBLY.

Don’t feel that you must fast many days to be effective. Many biblical fasts were “until evening” (Judges 20:16; II Samuel 3:35; Acts 10:30).
2. Fast SENSITIVELY.
When Israel fasted before a crucialbattle, the Bible says they

“inquired of the Lord.” (Judges 20:23; I Samuel 23) When we fast we should take special time to hear God speak. (Acts 13:1-2)
3. Fast SYSTEMATICALLY.
When Jesus taught His disciplesabout fasting, He began with the words “when you fast” (Matthew 6:16). He was suggesting that believers should have regular times of fasting, whether one day a week or a portion of a day each week.

4. Fast SACRIFICIALLY.

If we normally do not eat breakfast itis not really a sacrifice to fast breakfast. A true fast must be a sacrifice. David said, “My knees give way from fasting; my body is thin and gaunt” (Psalm 109:24). True fasting must have a humbling effect on us (Psalm 35:13). 5. Fast SPECIFICALLY.

God said to Israel, “Is not this the fast that I have chosen?
(Isaiah 58:6). We must ask God to direct us in the focus of our fasting.

6. Fast SUPERNATURALLY.

The very nature of fasting re-quires dependence on God’s supernatural power to see us through. When the early church fasted before sending out workers, the Bible says, “The Holy Spirit came” (Acts 13:2,3). We need God’s Spirit as we fast.
7. Fast SOBERLY.

Jesus cautioned His disciples not to make a spectacle out of fasting like the religious leaders did. This type of fasting only gets the attention of men and not of God (Matthew 6:16-17).

8. Fast SECRETLY.

Jesus cautioned His disciples never to boast about our times of fasting but rather to keep our times of fasting as a personal commitment (Matthew 6:18).

FINAL THOUGHT

“Fasting, if we conceive of it truly, must not...be confined to the question of food and drink; fasting should really be made to include abstinence from anything which is legitimate in and of itself for the sake of some special spiritual purpose. There are many bodily functions which are right and normal and perfectly legitimate, but which for special peculiar reasons in certain circumstances should be controlled. That is fasting.” 

~ Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Prayer Items

Our church would love the opportunity to help pray with you through whatever your request may be.