As we begin our church-wide fast today we’d like to give an overview of fasting to help you get started. The idea of fasting may be new to many, but it was nothing new to the Jews of the Old or New Testament. It was part of living with God and was something done often.
WHAT IS FASTING?
Fasting is a temporary abstaining from food while seeking God.
It’s likely that in the Bible fasting meant drinking only water (or not even that), but many people choose to fast by drinking fresh juice (but not eating food) or even fasting from media or something else that will help them focus on God for the time of their fast.
For our church-wide fast this week, we encourage people to do a juice only (no food) fast, but if you have restrictions that make that impossible, feel free to do a modified fast.
WHY DO WE FAST?
In the Bible, fasting was often done in times of mourning (1 Samuel 31:12-13) or in times of repentance (1 Samuel 7:6). When Daniel was put into the den of lions to be killed, the king who put him there fasted all night for him to be spared (Daniel 6:18). And when Jesus went into the desert before he began his ministry, he ate no food for forty days.
By fasting, we don’t earn extra points with God, and it’s not about training ourselves in self-denial. Rather, fasting is a way of setting ourselves apart and humbling ourselves before God. Ezra put it this way as he was about to lead a contingent of Israelites out of exile from Babylon back to Jerusalem: “I proclaimed a fast there… that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey…” (Ezra 8:21).
Fasting is also not a statement to people around us but something we do before God. Jesus, assuming fasting as a part of his disciples’ lives, instructed them, “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting…. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:16-18).
Fasting is a way of removing ourselves from the things of the world and setting ourselves before God, with our eyes fixed solely on Him. It’s a way of choosing to seek Him above everything else.
Fasting will only be as effective as the prayer you put into it. We encourage using your mealtimes and free time to pray and seek God for revival in our city, nation, and world.
While juice fasting, drink only 100% juice (the fresher the better). Avoid processed juices with other ingredients.
Drink lots of water.
Don’t drink any caffeine or alcohol.
You may feel nauseous or sick - this is completely normal and to be expected. Your body is just detoxing. Drinking a lot of water will help.
Take it easy, and don’t expect yourself to necessarily have the same physical or mental capacity as normal.
When you break your fast DO NOT just eat a normal meal or eat a lot of food because you’re starving. This can actually be harmful, especially if this is your first fast. A good rule of thumb is to break your fast with a piece of fruit and give yourself at least a full day to transition back to normal eating. Try to eat half as much as you normally would but twice as often, and stick to fresh, natural foods for your first couple meals and avoid anything heavy or processed. This takes discipline, but trust us on this one.
We’re excited for this opportunity to fast and seek God together. We pray this is a powerful time for you and for us as a community, and we’ll see you at our prayer times at 6am, noon, and 6pm in the prayer room and at Encounter Night on Friday!