Last year, I taught a message on “Prayer & Fasting” and there was a girl from Brazil in the crowd who spoke broken English. Afterwards, she asked, “Why do you want to pray so fast?” Fasting can be confusing topic for some, so hopefully this will help to clear it up…
In Matthew 6, as Jesus begins talking about fasting, He says, “When you fast…” assuming that His followers will fast. In Mark 9, a demon-possessed boy is brought to Jesus because the disciples couldn’t cast the demon out. Jesus casts the demon out (none stand a chance against Him), and the disciples ask why. He replies, “These can only come by prayer and fasting.” It seems that there are certain victories that can only be won through extra time dedicated to prayer and fasting. Although you may not be praying about people who are demon-possessed, through prayer we are waging war on the spiritual realm. Fasting is a tool that God has given us to sharpen and deepen the power of prayer.
Prayer doesn’t always have to be accompanied by fasting, but fasting should always be accompanied by prayer. Fasting without praying is just starving yourself, and Jesus wasn’t laying out a hyper-spiritual dieting plan. Instead, fasting is replacing something good (food) with something better (prayer & worship). Fasting disconnects us with earthly things and connects us with the things of God. Instead of feasting on a meal, you have extra time to feast on God’s faithfulness (Psalm 37:3).
What if I can’t skip meals?
Fasting in Scripture is almost always from food, but there are lots of ways to fast, especially for those who medically can’t skip meals. You can substitute time that you would normally spend watching TV, sleeping, on social media, or just 1 meal instead of all 3. The goal is not punishing yourself – it’s clearing your schedule to devote more time to prayer.
The practical side of fasting…
Wean yourself off of food. Don’t shove an entire tub of ice cream down your throat at 11:57 as your “last meal before the fast.” That will set you up to fail.
Stay hydrated. When I’m fasting, I drink way more water than typical. Since your body isn’t taking in nutrients through food, make sure you stay extra-hydrated.
Watch out for coffee. I’m a big coffee drinker, except for when I’m fasting. I’ve found (for me) that coffee on an empty stomach is a bad combo, so I lay off for the day.
Work out spiritually, not physically. Doing lots of hard labor while not eating can be dangerous, so be careful. I go to the gym often, but not typically when I’m fasting. And if I do, I’ll eat a small meal afterwards, just to replace what I just burned.
Ease back in. Don’t slam 7 bowls of cereal the next morning after a fast. Ease your body back into a normal routine of eating by eating fruits and vegetables and drinking plenty of water.
Don’t flaunt it. Jesus says that if you use fasting (or prayer) to be seen by men instead of heard by God, you’d better listen up for everyone’s applause…because that’s all the reward you get. Instead, take good care of yourself and smile! The joy of the Lord is your strength.
PRAY MORE. That’s the whole point of fasting. During the time when you would have normally been preparing a meal, eating, or doing whatever activity you’re giving up, spend that time in prayer.
Fasting is a great tool that’s highly underused. Let’s bring it back. And remember: God is big. Pray like it!
On Saturday, February 22, Awaken will be fasting and praying throughout the day leading up to our Unscripted Night of Prayer & Worship. We’ll break our fast together that evening through Communion. If you’re joining in or would like to just pray with us, here are some things you can pray for throughout the day…
– Pastoral Staff
– Financial Provision
– A new building for Awaken
– Awaken Groups Spring semester
– 2014 partner ministries:
- Hope Pregnancy Center
- Manna Cafe
- Rossview Good News Club
- Faith Comes By Hearing
- XXX Church
- Aaron & Kelly Bucy