January 23-25 has been set aside as a three-day time of prayer and fasting for the congregation of Cedar Springs to intercede for our Pastoral Search Team and for God’s provision of a Senior Pastor.
The season will begin with a service of worship, prayer and Communion on Wednesday, January 22 at 6:30 p.m. in the Main Sanctuary.
Throughout history, God’s people have set aside special times of prayer and fasting to seek God’s forgiveness, guidance, and blessing. Fasting is one of the most powerful spiritual disciplines, and one of the most neglected. For those who desire both inward and outward impact, humbling yourself before God through fasting can be a good way to see His power released in and through you by the enabling of the Holy Spirit. This spiritual practice is a gift from God meant to grow us and draw us into deepening relationship with Himself. Here are some insights drawn from God’s Word:
Fasting was an expected practice in both the Old and New Testament eras. For example, Moses fasted at least two recorded forty-day periods. Jesus fasted 40 days and reminded His followers to fast, “when you fast,” not if you fast.
Fasting is a biblical way to truly humble yourself in the sight of God (Psalm 35:13; Ezra 8:21). King David said, “I humble myself through fasting.”
Fasting enables the Holy Spirit to reveal your true spiritual condition, resulting in brokenness, repentance and a transformed life.
Fasting can transform your prayer life into a richer and more personal experience.
Fasting, if done properly, will not only prove to be a spiritual blessing but a physical blessing as well.
PHYSICAL CONSIDERATIONS BEFORE YOU BEGIN
Although fasting is primarily a spiritual discipline, it begins in the physical realm. If you are taking any type of medication, make sure to talk to your doctor before changing your regimen. You may have a medical condition that makes fasting unwise; consult with your physician. The following are generally discouraged from fasting: those with chronic problems with kidneys, liver, lungs, or heart; individuals who take insulin for diabetes; and women who are pregnant or nursing.
If you decide not to fast, you can substitute by depriving yourself of something you habitually do or purposefully adding something. Examples of deprivation include cutting soft drinks, texting, Netflix, or TV. Examples adding include walking, specified prayer, visiting neglected loved ones, etc.
You should not fast without specific physical preparation. You will find it helpful to begin by eating smaller meals before you abstain altogether. Resist the urge to have that “last big feast” before the fast. Cutting down on your meals a few days before you begin the fast will signal your mind, stomach and appetite that less food is acceptable. Weaning yourself off caffeine and sugar products a few days before will ease the discomfort of headaches that occur with sudden withdrawal.
Experiencing God’s best from a fast requires solid commitment. There will be conflict when you begin to deny yourself the pleasure of eating food. You will be tempted to think that it isn’t a good time for you to fast, that it was a crazy idea, or that you have too much going on to complete the fast. Because eating is such a part of our lives, you may “forget” and put food in your mouth. Spit it out. If you actually eat a bite of something, it doesn’t mean you should give up the fast. Recommit your desire to govern your will over your flesh, to the Lord.
TIP: Many people find it important to maintain their intake of water (and other liquids) during a fast. Increasing your typical water intake may also prove helpful.
During a 3-day fast, sometimes this struggle intensifies toward the end of the second day. That seems to be a favorite time for the “self” to rise up and say, “This is as far as I want to go. I have done enough.” Say out loud: “I want you, God, way more than I want this food.” Be ever mindful that Satan will do whatever he can to make you quit. When you see him at work, immediately go to God in prayer and ask Him to strengthen your resolve.
PLAN TO ADJUST YOUR SCHEDULE
You may feel somewhat weaker than normal. You may feel tired, impatient, and irritable. Lightening your workload and cutting down on strenuous exercise will help maintain your health and your morale.
Fasting is not just denying yourself food. It is exchanging the needs of the physical body for those of the spiritual. Long times of prayer and reading God’s Word will be essential if you are to enter into a more intimate communion with God and maintain your fast to its completion. While fasting, if your life is continually filled with activity and busyness to the neglect of spending extended time with God, you will starve both physically and spiritually. The more time you spend with God in fellowship and worship, and the more you read and meditate upon His Word, the greater your effectiveness will be in prayer.
SHOULD I TELL OTHERS I’M FASTING?
You may be reluctant to tell others that you are fasting so you will avoid the sin of the Pharisees: fasting just to gain recognition. Jesus’ point is to avoid self-praise, not to maintain total secrecy. Christian friends and family members may be willing to join you in fasting, providing support and accountability. They can also encourage you to continue when the enemy tempts you to give up!
Eventually, people will notice you are not eating. Unless you see certain people daily, they do not consider your skipped meal much of a concern. If you are asked by someone who does not follow Christ, they may be satisfied by such a brief answer as, “I have other plans for lunch today.” Christians should be satisfied when you answer that you are fasting.
HOW DO I PRAY?
Arrange special time each day with God. Prioritize attaining intimate communion with the Father. You must devote yourself to seeking God’s face, even (and especially) during those times in which you feel weak, vulnerable or irritable. Read His Word and pray during what were mealtimes. Meditate on Him when you awake in the night. Sing praises to Him.
Examine your heart through prayer, and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any unconfessed sin. Scripture records that God always requires His people to repent of their sins before He will hear their prayers.
WHAT HAPPENS AT THE END OF THE FAST?
While your body is in the resting mode, your stomach shrinks and your intestines become idle. Solid food must be re-introduced slowly to avoid digestive distress. Begin with a small meal of fruit or vegetables, then introduce toast or bread, before bringing meat in again.