Experience God's power through fasting

Fasting is an act of devotion and humbling oneself before God. It is sacrificing something that is a valuable part of your physical existence for the benefit of your spiritual journey. It is a spiritual discipline that has been an intricate part of discipleship throughout the Holy Bible and the Christian faith.

The fellowship of the Marvin Church family joins in a 24-hour fast of preparation for Ash Wednesday. You may also choose to continue to fast in some way throughout the season of Lent as you reflect on your relationship with Christ. You may use this as a guide to begin a special journey.

Bill Bright, author of Prayer Partners, combines fasting with prayer and claims that this combination transforms “spiritual strongholds and releases the power of God in your life and the life of your church, its pastor, its leaders and its members.”

Some of you may have never fasted before and question the need to do it or if you can do it. If this is your first time maybe just skip one meal. Be in prayer and the Lord will give you the strength beyond your own ability so you can experience his awesome power and grow into a closer relationship with him. Remember his promise in Philippians 2:13: “It is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”

The following books will give you more information on fasting and prayer:

  • A Hunger for God by John Piper
  • Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster
  • Partners in Prayer by John Maxwell

May God sustain you and give you a deeper understanding of who he is!

Steps of fasting

Step 1 | Know why you are fasting

Richard Foster, author of Celebration of Discipline, said, “Fasting must forever center on God … Physical benefits, success in prayer, the enduing with power, spiritual insights—these must never replace God as the center of our fasting.” John Wesley declared, “Let fasting be done unto the Lord with our eye singly fixed on him. Let our intention herein be this, and this alone, to glorify our Father which is in heaven.”

As with any decision we should go to the Lord for guidance. When we go to his Word there are many places where fasting is practiced.

1. To humble oneself before God ( Ezra 8:21, Psalm 51:17)

2. To intensify prayer regarding

  • guidance (Nehemiah 1:4)
  • protection (2 Chronicles 20:3)
  • healing (Psalm 35:13)
  • deliverance (Matthew 17:9-21)
  • success in the Lord’s work (Esther 4:16)

3. During special assignments from the Lord (Exodus 34:28)

4. While preparing for ministry (Acts 13:2-3,14:23)

5. To repent as a nation in a solemn assembly (Joel 1:12-14, 2:15)

6. While worshiping (Acts 13:2)

Step 2 | Prepare yourself spiritually

Is there anything hindering your relationship with God? Before you begin your fast you are encouraged to have a time of confession and repentance. Unconfessed sin can hinder your prayers. As in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Step 3 | Seek God's guidance on what type of fast

  • Regular fast (water only)
  • Partial fast (water and juice only)
  • Daniel fast (vegetables and liquids only—abstaining from rich foods). If you have not fasted before you may want to a fast like Daniel did in Daniel 10:3. Take small steps toward God just keep your eyes on Him.

It is recommended that you do not chew gum or drink caffeine during your fast. You may want to eat smaller, healthy meals prior to and after your fast. Also, note that breaking your fast with juice and raw vegetables may make your experience easier.

For some of you who cannot abstain from food due to medical reasons, remember there may be something else you could abstain from and fill that allotted time with prayer. For instance you may replace:

  • television
  • telephone
  • spending time with people

John Piper, author of A Hunger for God, challenges our life’s focus by stating “our appetites dictate the direction of our life—whether it be the cravings of your stomach, the passionate desire of possessions or power or the longing of your spirit for God.” Do you have a hunger for God?

Step 4 | Ask medical questions

It is highly recommended that you consult your physician before conducting a fast from food. A few examples of concern may be expectant or nursing mothers, diabetics, chronic illnesses and those on certain medications. Almost everyone will be able to participate on at least one level.

Step 5 | Realize there may be some side effects

Different people will react differently to going 24 hours without food. Some common side effects include headaches, bad breath, less energy, irritability and hunger pains. Some of these are actually signs that your body is doing work. Because your digestive system is resting, your body is able to work on purging itself of toxins (thus the bad breath). Use the hunger pains as a reminder of your hunger and dependence upon God (Matthew 5:6).

Step 6 | Schedule when you will fast

When will you start your fast and when will it stop? If you conduct a 24-hour fast, then you are committing to miss three meals. For example you would give up dinner one night, along with breakfast and lunch the next day.

Step 7 | Glorify God through prayer as you fast

Let us lift up prayers to glorify God as you fast. Use this time to deliberately reflect on your relationship with God. An obvious time would be the meal times that you are missing. As your schedule permits, set aside additional time to read the scriptures and pray. Some people may even be able to dedicate an entire day to a prayer retreat.
You may wish to pray aloud or silently. You may have specific prayer requests to lay before God. Pray earnestly for evangelism, your family, your own ministry, our pastors, for Marvin Church and for the church around the world.

Another way to communicate with God may be in the form of writing letters to God. Spend some time just listening to God. Journal things that you think you are hearing from Him.

Step 8 | Conclude your fast with a grateful heart

As you come to the end of your fast you may be very hungry physically, but bring your spiritual journey to a place of closure. Lift a prayer of thanksgiving to God for the communion that you have had with him. You may also want to use the Lord’s Prayer as a way of concluding your fast.

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