This morning I will continue our series on prayer: Lord, teach us to pray. Here are some practical suggestions to get us started with fasting.
Suggestions for the practice of fasting
If you have NOT Fasted before:
- Plan a fast of two or more meals’ duration – breakfast to breakfast, lunch to lunch etc when you will consume only fruit juice and water. “Seek a gentle receptiveness to divine breathings” during your fast. Afterwards reflect on your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual responses to the fast.
If you have fasted before:
- Plan a fast of whatever duration is right for this coming week. Give the time saved to God and use the time to reflect on your spiritual journey since becoming a Christian.
Whilst a routine fast can become legalistic and therefore fail before it begins, try repeating the exercise on a regular basis. It is only after a number of months that the real benefit will become apparent.
Practise a form of prayer or meditation that you have been using and combine it with a fast.
Consider a time of prayer and fasting:
- before a major event
- whilst making an important decision
- as part of preparation for something you are involved in
- as a special “holy” day – a quiet day for personal spiritual development
Consider a partial fast by abstaining from a particular kind of food or beverage (e.g. caffeine)
Fast from some activity unrelated to food as a way of breaking a pattern or desisting from behaviour that is in some way compulsive, unhealthy, or problematic. For example, you might feel led to fast from
- watching TV
- the media (as a gratification of the need for ‘instant information’ about anything and everything; instead, use the time to reflect on what is significant in life, and see if this gives you a clear perspective on social events)
- self-deprecating remarks
- offering an opinion before being asked
- excessive busyness (a period of enforced inactivity)
Suggested content or focus of fasting
- Reflect on the truth that our deepest need is for God, not for physical or material gratification.
- On preparation for worship or fellowship, cultivate an expectancy for your time together through personal confession and thanksgiving, intercession for all those leading and participating, and the movement of the Holy Spirit, during, and after your gathering
- “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Col 3:16) maybe using one of the passages below
- Identify an overbearing concern or anxiety to release into God’s care
- Set apart your fast for praise and thanksgiving. Reflect on all the good gifts of God in your life. Offer prayer and songs as you reflect and all this gratitude and joy to spill over to others
- Identify a need in your life, in your community, or in the world that calls for confession and repentance. Spend the time in contrition for sins, thanksgiving for forgiveness and seeking a cleansed & renewed spirit
Suggested Scripture passages
- The example of Christ – Luke 4:1-13
- God’s chosen fast – Isaiah 58
- A partial fast – Daniel 10:1-14
- A normal fast – Nehemiah 1:1-11
- An absolute fast – Esther 4:12-17
- The inauguration of the Gentile Mission – Acts 13:1-3
- The appointment of elders in the churches – Acts 14:19-23