I’m revisiting what is below for a couple of reasons. One, we have invited the New Hope Church family to consider incorporating fasting into their regular rhythms, whatever that looks like from person to person. We have done so because we believe so strongly in the necessity of calling upon God for His purposes to unfold in our context—we want nothing else; and we know fasting is a posture of prayerful dependency that helps us. The other reason, is more for me, but perhaps you will discover this as well. With the unique responsibilities that any of us have, fasting is a discipline helpful for tenderizing our souls toward the Spirit of God, giving us the proper framing for spiritual dependency. Therefore, some basic reflection upon it may be fruitful.
Consider what Dallas Willard penned about fasting:
Fasting confirms our utter dependence upon God by finding in him a source of sustenance beyond food. Through it, we learn by experience that God’s word to us is a life substance, that it is not food (“bread”) alone that gives life, but also the words that proceed from the mouth of God (Matt. 4:4). We learn that we too have meat to eat that the world does not know about (John 4:32, 34). Fasting unto our Lord is therefore feasting—feasting on him and on doing his will. (The Spirit of the Disciplines, p. 166)
His words help us to understand the benefit of fasting, but a common question arises about how to fast. Perhaps the following, intended for a full-day’s fast and adapted from our friends at The Moody Church in Chicago, will prove helpful:
The evening before, eat a light dinner. Spend time in personal confession and yieldedness to God. Abstain from TV and other input that would divert you from having a special meeting with God.
The day of the fast, drink water, coffee, or juices but abstain from food.
In the morning, resolve to focus on two or three promises from God (e.g. Psalm 145:18; Jeremiah 33:3; John 15:7). Ask God to show you sin in your life that needs to be confessed and forsaken.
Add to the above promises your own concerns for you and your family, our church, our nation, and the world.
Continue with your regular activities throughout the day, using your hunger as a reminder to love and trust God with the burdens on your heart. Pray silently as you work. If asked why you are not eating, simply say that you have chosen to fast on this day.
In the evening, join with other believers to affirm your own desperation to see God answer prayer.
The next morning, ask yourself:
What did I learn yesterday?
What sins were revealed to me?
What burdens were taken from my shoulders and transferred to God?
What do I now believe more fervently for my church, family or community?
What do I see more clearly than before?
What is the next step in my walk with God?
Please note: if you are unable to fast for health reasons, you are encouraged to do the above while maintaining your regular eating schedule. Fasting itself has no special merit in God’s sight but is an added means of revealing who we are in God’s presence.
Often my own normal routine finds me pursuing something similar to this a couple times a week, for most of whichever days are chosen, with a light meal in the evening with my family. There are variety of ways to approach it. The key is intentionality and dependency and a posture of prayer and humility. Give serious consideration to what fits your scenario the best.
About the invitation to fast, at least within the New Hope Church family? Let these words settle into your soul, taken from some of our messaging to the New Hope Church community: New Hope Church is experiencing immeasurable grace and we believe God is inviting us to remain steadfast in moving toward Jesus and taking others with us. Our Lord is leading us. We are a gospel-mission church, eager to declare God’s glory and seeking the good of people from all walks of life. Any and all praise is for God and God alone! To ensure that we remain ever-available to Him and His purposes, I want to invite you to join me on a unique pathway. Each of us should be sensitive about participating well in what God is doing. Being so has real implications for how we leverage our lives for God’s great glory and the gospel. To deepen this sensitivity, assuming your health would tolerate it, would you consider fasting with me?
I love hearing stories regarding how God is on the move in people’s lives. Feel free to click on the email tab at the top of the webpage and tell me how God met you in your fasting. Let’s celebrate together!