As we step into 2017 as a church, we feel led to initiate a specific time of prayer and fasting for 21 days. We have decided to call this fast “Dedicate.” We want to set apart the first weeks of 2017
to seek the Lord for ourselves, families, church, and city. We expect God to speak to us and move powerfully during and after this time of prayer and fasting. We envision this fast much like a
seed being planted into the ground of our lives that God will water and cause to grow as 2017 unfolds. We ask that you begin to prepare your heart for how God would have you participate.
You may have some questions about fasting so please read through the rest of this for some of our thoughts and suggestions.
WHAT IS A FAST?
Fasting is when someone or a group of people (in unity) abstain from food (fully or partially) for a specific period of time in order to seek God through prayer. Many people in the Bible practiced fasting as a spiritual discipline or in response to something specific. In the Old Testament, Israel was required by God to fast collectively at least once a year on the Day of Atonement as well as other occasions. In the New Testament we have records of the early church fasting and praying together for various reasons. Reliable church tradition and recorded history also tell us that the early church (post New Testament) practiced fasting twice a week, usually on Wednesday and Friday.
WHY DO WE FAST?
Knowing what a fast is doesn’t necessarily mean we understand its purpose. We can find many good Scriptural reasons for fasting. Below are provided some of the reasons for fasting. It’s important to remember that we not only fast and pray for ourselves, but mostly for those around us.
1. To humble ourselves to God (repentance) - Psalm 35:13, 1 Samuel 7:6, Ezra 9
2. To come closer to God - James 4:8
3. To understand God’s word (revelation) - Ephesians 1:17-22
4. To know God’s will or direction - Acts 13:1-2
5. To seek healing/deliverance - Isaiah 58, Matthew 17:21
6. To seek God’s intervention - 2 Samuel 12:16-23, 2 Chronicles 20:3
7. To intercede for others - Daniel 9:3
DIFFERENT TYPES OF FASTS
There are many different kinds of fasts. The most important part of fasting is the time we spend with God in prayer. If we deny ourselves food and do not pray then we will accomplish nothing.
The following types of fasts are simply references to what we can abstain from while we seek the Lord in prayer.
1. Full Fast
A full fast is where someone goes completely without food for the allotted time. There are at least four references in the Bible where people fasted food and
water, however we are only referencing food as a full fast for obvious reasons. If you choose to do a full fast then we recommend you consult with others
prior to doing so, especially if you take any kinds of medication.
2. Partial Fast
A partial fast is to simply go without a meal or two the day of your fast. For example, you could fast from dinner or lunch and spend an extended
amount of time in prayer in place of that meal. There are no rules to this kind of fasting but you should decide beforehand what you will do and stick to it as
with all fasts.
3. Daniel Fast
This kind of fast comes from Daniel chapter 10, where Daniel had a terrifying vision that caused him to abstain from all pleasant food and drink. If you choose
to do this kind of fast then essentially you will be abstaining from all “meats, sweets and treats.” Most people stick to fruits, vegetables and nuts or similar
kinds of protein. There are many resources online that could provide healthy options with this fast.
4. Media Fast (Daniel 6:18)
Sometimes we are unable to participate in abstaining from food for various reasons, however, this does not mean we cannot fast and pray. We strongly
encourage you to fast by replacing some forms of entertainment (tv, movies, internet surfing) with prayer and intentional time with family. God often uses
this kind of fast to quiet the noise in our life and increase our ability to hear His voice.
PRACTICAL POINTS OF FASTING
1. Plan your fast - what kind of fast? how long? write your plan out!
2. Be specific with your fasting - know why you’re fasting and what you’re praying for.
3. Plan your prayer time for each day - when will you pray?
4. Journal your fast - God will speak to you, but it may mean more at another time.
5. Drink lots of water - we get most of our water from food so double up on water.
6. Invite Accountability - it’s good to share what you’re doing with a trusted friend.