Hey church, yesterday we continued our “Less is More” series with a word on fasting. I spent most of my time talking about the “why” of fasting but not as much time talking about the details of the “how” of fasting. Afterwards, several great questions popped up in conversations so here’s a few quick thoughts that may be helpful to you as you fast today or sometime in the future.
First of all, remember that the point isn’t to be religious. Several of the questions that came up had something to do with whether or not it would still “count” if one fasted from certain foods, or if someone still drank liquids, or certain kinds of liquids, etc. No one is keeping score here. You aren’t going to be disqualified. God isn’t withholding something from you if you forget and eat a granola bar, etc. Our point in fasting is to remind ourselves that God is the One who sustains us. We’re also trying to increase our sensitivity to Him and His voice by limiting ourselves physically. However you fast, try and keep this in mind.
WHAT SHOULD I EAT OR NOT EAT?
Now speaking of “how”, there are many ways that people fast. Some fast from everything. Not a single thing goes in their body. Others fast from only food but liquids are fine. Some fast from food and liquids except for water. Others fast from certain kinds of foods. There’s a popular fast out there called a “Daniel fast” based on the biblical story of Daniel who requested that he be given only fruits and vegetables to eat.
Typically, fasts that have more exceptions tend to be for longer periods of time. Often a Daniel fast goes for 21 days. Sometimes there are medical reasons for fasting with exceptions.
Because of the short amount of time in our “First Monday Fast” I personally will refrain from eating anything but will allow myself to drink water, juice, or coffee. Some would say I’m cheating if I put creamer in my coffee, but again, there’s no scoreboard here.
HOW LONG SHOULD I FAST?
If you are just speaking about our “First Monday Fast” then we are talking about just Monday. But even there you have room to do what you want. Some will probably fast from a single meal. Others may fast all day but then eat dinner with their family at night. Still others will complete a full day’s fast and not eat until breakfast on Tuesday.
If this is your first experience with fasting I would recommend you commit to something before hand and stick with it. It is a discipline. So your body will be mad at you at first and you’ll be tempted to stop as you feel hunger. But I promise you that as time moves on, your body will stop saying it’s hungry and you’ll find it isn’t that hard.
Personally, I will likely fast all day and then eat dinner with my family at night (unless broccoli is involved, in which case I may just go ahead and wait for breakfast 😉 )
WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING?
First of all, pray. Let your hunger remind you to do so. I would recommend bringing things to God throughout the day that are sort of “big” things. Pray about big decisions, about direction, about relationships that may need mending, pray for the salvation of people that you love. As we do this more as a church we will give you guides that will have some suggestions for prayer on a church level – that is, things we can all be praying together for our community and our church.
For now, I would ask you to pray for our goal to see 50 people baptized in our church this year. Pray also for direction as we continue to explore whether or not God would have us move locations in order to reach more people. Pray for those preparing and thinking about going to Guatemala and for their efforts to raise the funds they need in order to go.
You could also spend more intentional time reading the bible, journaling, or connecting with others in our community.
I know this is brand new to many of you. It’s really pretty new to me as well. Don’t be discouraged if you struggle. Don’t worry if you accidentally forget during the day, or if you end up breaking your fast early. All disciplines take time to develop. This will become easier for you. Over time as you continue to do this each month you will see big time growth in your ability and desire to fast.
Don’t be surprised if God speaks. Seriously. As you seek Him He may reveal to you some new dreams. He may convict you in certain areas. He may bring clarity to others. It’s a great idea to add this day to your SOAP journal.
I’m so proud of you for doing this. I believe this is a turning point for us as a church as we intentionally seek MORE of God together.
Praying for you all today! I love being your pastor.