MONDAY, JANUARY 2nd – SUNDAY, JANUARY 22nd
There is no better way to start a new year than by seeking God through a time of prayer and fasting. Join us for 21 days of prayer and fasting as we disconnect from the things of this world and connect into God.
WHAT IS FASTING?
SIMPLY STATED, BIBLICAL FASTING IS REFRAINING FROM FOOD FOR A SPIRITUAL PURPOSE.
As Christians, we grow closer to the Lord as we block out the everyday noise of the world and lean in closer to the voice of the Father. We block out these daily distractions by doing as Jesus called each of us to do in Luke 9:23: “And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” By taking up our cross daily, we are putting down the heavy things of this world that act as distractions, picking up what God has actually called us to bear, and following where He leads. It can be easy to fall into the trap of distraction as we go from day to day. Whether it’s work, school, kids, stress, social media, finances, relational challenges, or unexpected dilemmas or delays that pop up throughout the day – it can all become so overwhelming and completely time and thought consuming.
Every now and then in our walk with Christ, we can greatly benefit from hitting the refresh button in our spiritual lives. The best way to reset and refresh our spiritual lives and relationship with God is through fasting and prayer.
Fasting is an integral spiritual discipline that is meant to help us as believers take our focus off of something for a period of time (food, social media, TV, etc.), and focus our time, attention, and hearts fully on Jesus. By fasting, we are setting aside distractions, even necessities, such as food, in order to stir up a deeper hunger for the Lord. The purpose of fasting is not to lose something, but to gain something; a deeper, more intimate relationship with God.
HOW TO FAST
Be in faith as you prayerfully and thoughtfully step into this season of fasting. Fasting is more than simply going without something. It is supplementing the absence of something that feeds your flesh with prayer in order to feed your spirit.
Commit to a type of fast. Do not decide on a day-to-day basis. Commit before your fast begins and stay determined. Fasting options may include:
- Water only
- Liquid only
- Vegetables and fruits only
- One meal only per day
- Traditional fasts (sun-up to sun-down, Monday through Friday)
- Other kinds of fasts (i.e. no TV, no social media, no discretionary spending)
Prepare your body gradually for the fast. Start eating smaller portions and meals made of raw fruits and vegetables two days before you begin. Avoid food that is high in sugar and fat.
Plan Your Calendar.
Limit physical and social activities during the fast, conserve energy, and spend more time in prayer, worship, and reading the Bible. If you wish to pair this guide with a Bible reading plan, consider Daily Reading Plan (hyperlink to https://celebration.learn.bible/courses/daily-reading-plan).
Consult a Physician.
Consult your physician or doctor if you need to, or if you have health concerns. If your health or personal condition does not allow you to fast food or meals, determine an alternative that will work best for you. Such circumstances may include pregnancy, a physically demanding profession, and medical conditions.
Partner with Others.
Ask friends and family to be your prayer partner throughout the fast. Consider doing the fast within the benefits of community, and alongside friends, rather than in solitude.
Decide How Long.
You may fast as long as you like. Most can easily fast from one to three days, but you may feel the grace to go longer, even as much as 21 to 40 days. Use wisdom and pray for guidance. Beginners are advised to start slow.
What to Expect.
When you fast your body detoxifies, eliminating toxins from your system. This can cause mild discomfort such as headaches and irritability during withdrawal from caffeine and sugars. And naturally, you will have hunger pains. Limit your activity and exercise moderately. Take time to rest. Fasting brings about miraculous results. You are following Jesus’ example when you fast. Spend time listening to praise and worship. Pray as often as you can throughout the day. Get away from the normal distractions as much as possible and keep your heart and mind set on seeking God.
How to End.
Don’t overeat when the time comes to end your fast. Begin eating solid food gradually; eat small portions or snacks.
TYPES OF FASTS
There are several types of fasting. The one you choose is between you and God. He will honor your best sacrifice.
Full Fast (or Liquid Fast)
Drink only liquids (you establish the number of days).
The Daniel Fast
Eat no meat, no sweets and no bread. Drink water and juice. Eat fruits and vegetables.
A partial fast is from 6:00 am to 3:00 pm or from sunup to sundown. You can select from three types of fasting —a Full Fast, Daniel Fast or give up at least one item of food.
For those who may not be able to fast food and meals due to health conditions or at the recommendation of a physician, you may instead select to fast and refrain from social media, television, secular music, types of entertainment, etc.
Scripture References for Fasting:
Matthew 6:16-18, Matthew 9:14-15, Luke 18:9-14
Relation to Prayer and Reading of the Word:
1 Samuel 1:6-8, 17-18, Nehemiah 1:4, Daniel 9:3, 20, Joel 2:12, Luke 2:37, Acts 10:30, Acts 13:2
1 Samuel 7:5-6, Ezra 8:21-23, Nehemiah 9:1-3, Joel 2:15-16, Jonah 3:5-10, Acts 27:33-37
Remember that it is the attitude of a heart sincerely seeking Him to which God responds with a blessing (Isaiah 58, Jeremiah 14:12, 1 Corinthians 8:8). May God greatly bless you as you fast!
PARENT’S FASTING GUIDE FOR KIDS
Fasting – Giving up something for God to get closer to Him.
We believe God wants to work in the hearts of kids through prayer and fasting, just like He does for adults. And we’ve found that kids will respond and grow spiritually when we teach them and give them the opportunity to participate. If kids are going to be lifelong followers of Jesus, they must experience Him in a real and personal way. A time of prayer and fasting is a great way for kids to encounter Jesus’ presence.
We also believe that when a child fasts, it should come under the guidance and direction of his or her parents/guardians.
The following points will help us teach our kids why we fast:
- Fasting helps us focus on God instead of our comforts and conveniences.
- Fasting reminds us that God provides every good and perfect gift.
- Fasting helps us open our hearts to hear from God, no matter our age.
Here are some practical ways to fast with kids:
- Make different food choices. We do not recommend that children skip meals or drastically reduce their food intake, but a modification of their diet might prove to be an easy place to start. Fasting from specific items such as sweets, fried foods, sodas, or even meat and bread is a great way for children to participate in a safe and healthy way. Choose healthy foods for snacking. Please note, you should always check with your child’s pediatrician before beginning any food fasting with your children.
- A digital fast. Another great way to fast is by reducing some of the time and energy spent watching TV, playing video games, or using the computer or phone. Instead, encourage them to spend time praying, reading their Bible, or serving others. This could be as simple as not using the DVD player in the car or as advanced as a complete abstinence for 21 days.
- The important thing is for the kids to recognize the value behind personal sacrifice. By setting aside special times to disconnect from some of the extra-curricular activities and treats they enjoy on a regular basis, they learn how to connect to God in a closer way.
- Write down a few prayer requests and pray together for those things throughout the fast.
Remind your child each time they want “that thing” they’re fasting from, they should use their desire as a reminder to pray and spend time focusing on God and telling him how much they love him. Seek God, pray big prayers, pray for people to come to Christ, and ask God for breakthroughs for ourselves and others. We believe we will see God do some amazing things during these 21 days.