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Fasting

Fasting is a gift from God that helps us focus on the Lord, be aligned with His leading, receive power, and have a deeper relationship with Him. As you intentionally fast, pray, and seek God, the time of fasting can be healing, eliminate distractions in your life, and help you make significant and wise decisions. Choose the type of fast that is most beneficial to your walk with God.

Please consult with your physician before you start fasting.

 

Fasting is found throughout the Bible. Consider some of the following passages:

1) Nehemiah 9:1-5 Returning to God

2) Esther 4:14-17 Asking for God's help

3) Psalm 69:9-16 Humbling yourself before God

4) Isaiah 58:1-14 Helping other people

5) Jeremiah 36:8-10 Uniting together

6) Daniel 9:1-6 Seeking God's mercy

7) Joel 2:12-13 Experiencing renewal

8) Zechariah 8:18-23 Increasing joy and power

9) Matthew 6:6-8 Following Jesus

10) Luke 2:36-38 Listening to God

11) Acts 13:1-5 Empowered by God

12) Acts 14:21-24 Raising up leaders

 

Below is a daily Bible reading, a brief devotional, reflection questions, and a prayer focus to encourage you in your fast.

Day 1 Scripture: Daniel 10

This passage is an encouragement for fasting. As you set apart the month of January to seek God, know that God is going before you on this journey. He is already at work on your behalf. What specific clarity of vision are you seeking from God during this time? Write down your prayer so you can reflect on it at the end of the fast. Spend time praying for God to speak to you and give you strength this month.

 

Day 2 Scripture: 1 Chronicles 21:18-27

What will your sacrifice be during this fast? This scripture encourages us to build an altar and lay a sacrifice on it that honors God. It will cost your convenience, your comfort, and it will also take some serious willpower and commitment. Make your commitment in writing and consider sharing it with a friend who will hold you accountable to your commitment. If you haven't already decided what you will be fasting, pray for God to show you what He wants you to sacrifice.

 

Day 3 Scripture: Daniel 1

Nothing but vegetables and water. And not just for three weeks, but more likely for the duration of their training in Babylon! This response from these four young men didn't come from a fear of getting caught. It came from a devotion to God's commands already formed in them before being taken to their homeland. During this fast, you'll have many opportunities to deviate from your commitment - especially if you're fasting alone or if no one will find out. Pray that God will give you the resolve and courage to stick to the standards you've set and honor Him no matter what.

 

Day 4 Scripture: Psalm 119

The longest psalm in the Bible is primarily about a passion for God's Word. These 21 days you've set apart will be much richer by combining Bible reading with your fasting and prayer. You may want to make plans to start a reading plan that takes you all the way through the Bible. How would you describe your passion for God's Word at this moment? Pray today that God will increase that fire in your heart during this time.

 

Day 5 Scripture: Matthew 6:5-18

Isn't fasting supposed to be a secret? You may have started this journey with a group that is fasting along with you. Many fasts in the Bible were corporate fasts called by authority figures for a whole group to participate in together. Reflect on the heart of what Jesus is saying in this passage. What has been the motive behind any conversations you've had about fasting? Ist it to encourage others or receive support? Only two know the answer to those questions -- you and God. Pray today asking God to uncover your motives for fasting and ask for ways you can seek the encouragement you need without clouding your heart with pride.

 

Day 6 Scripture: Isaiah 58

This is a message from God to His people who were frustrated with His lack of response to their fasting. It's easy to confuse fasting with a hunger strike to get God to do what you want. But this chapter says what He wants. Pray that God will use your experience with hunger and discomfort to permanently alter how you see those in the world who are lost and needy. Pray that God will empty you of all that is you and fill you with all that is Him.

 

Day 7 Scripture: Mark 14:1-26

Broken and poured out. You see those words in both the story of the woman and the last supper. Since bread and wine are likely not options for you to remember Jesus during these 21 days, do what the woman did. Do what Jesus did. Live your life broken and poured out in remembrance of what He has done for you. How can your life be a living memorial to Christ? Talk to God about things in your life that need to be broken and poured out like that vase of perfume.

 

Day 8 Scripture: Psalm 100

You are entering week two of your fast! This psalm talks about entering God's presence with thankfulness, gladness, joy, and praise in your heart. If you've become focused on the physical hardships you're bringing to God in prayer, then spend today just being joyful in the Lord. Write down some things that bring you joy today. Sing a song of praise to Him. Pray that God will stir an urgency to press in and see what God has for you beyond His gates.

 

Day 9 Scripture: Romans 12

This is a great time to explore how you can present your body as a living sacrifice to God. This passage starts with that challenge and offers many ways to express it. In what ways has your fast been helping you experience true worship in new ways? Pray today and ask God to continue to reveal His will for you during this time of sacrifice and worship.

 

Day 10 Scripture: Luke 4

Forty days of nothing? Not hardly. Even though Jesus fasted for forty days, He clearly came out stronger than ever based on the events following it. How is your fast strengthening you? Do you feel like you're floundering? Maybe you're not experiencing the outcomes you expected. Ask God to lead you into the same kind of preparation, power, and purpose that Jesus gained from His time of fasting.

 

Day 11 Scripture: James 1

This chapter has many convicting challenges--one being for you to match your faith with action. Don't just contemplate God's Word--do what it says. You are now beginning the second half of your fast. Reflect on whether your fast would be characterized more by listening or doing. Ask God for wisdom about where He wants to lead you during this second half of your fast.

 

Day 12 Scripture: 2 Corinthians 1

Food is a source of comfort for many. Reflect on how much your thoughts have been overtaken with craving certain foods, missing the things you're fasting from, or even how much weight you could lose. Is it often? If it were alcohol or a harmful drug, would you consider yourself addicted if you were this consumed with your desire for them? For many, this fast can begin an awareness of a harmful place food may have in your life. It can reveal an addiction. Pray that the God of compassion and all comfort will become your primary source of comfort. Ask Him to use this experience with suffering to remove anything in your life that has taken the Holy Spirit's place as your Comforter.

 

Day 13 Scripture: 1 Peter 2

You are chosen, holy, set apart, a royal priest--you are a child of God. You may be in need of an anchor right now. Set Christ as your cornerstone today. Write down the ways He has brought you from darkness into light. Spend time in prayer today thanking god for beginning a work in you with His Son set as the foundation for Him to build upon.

 

Day 14 Scripture: Matthew 5:1-14

Blessed are those who hunger...If you can relate to that, spend time meditating on this passage called the Beatitudes or Blessings. Make a point today to count your blessings. Keep a journal with you all day to write down the blessings that God brings to your mind. Pray to thank Him for the blessings, even the ones that come as a result of enduring hardships or trials.

 

Day 15 Scripture: Psalm 51

You're starting the third and final week of your fast. If you're fasting with a group, take time to reflect together and celebrate what God has begun. If you've been fasting alone, be sure to write down your experiences. Even though you may feel like you're in a groove now, for many this final week will be harder than the others. Ask God to search you and begin to shine a light on all the dark corners of your heart. Ask Him to use this last week to refine you and cleanse you.

 

Day 16 Scripture: Psalm 27

The title of today's reading is A Psalm of Fearless Trust in God. It talks about seeking one thing. During this time of seeking, it's east to focus on seeking things from God instead of just seeking God--to seek his hand and not His face. Think of the difference between approaching a king to kiss his hand and approaching a loving father to kiss his face. God is both our King and Father. He is capable of meeting your needs and answering your prayers. But He also loves you more deeply than you can ever know. When you seek His face, you end up in a much closer posture to Him. Pray today that you will seek God's face and get closer to Him than you ever have before.

 

Day 17 Scripture: Daniel 3

This is one of the most dazzling stories in the Bible. You can surely relate to the situation these three young men faced--when facts fly in the face of truth. The facts were that they had broken the law, the punishment was death, Nebuchadnezzar was the most powerful man in the world, the fire was hot enough to kill a nearby guard, there were plenty more guards to throw them in, and they were either going to bow or burn. Period. But the truth opposed those facts, and truth was what the three men stood upon. The truth is that the Son of God walked with them through the flames. What facts are you facing that defy God's truth? Take the facts to God in prayer today and believe with boldness that your God will be with you in the fire.

 

Day 18 Scripture: Joel 2:12-32

Tear your hearts instead. You can finish strong by making sure you are weeping and mourning and tearing your heart open wide to allow God's power and prescence to sweep across the landscape of your life. Tell God today that you are baring your heart before His mercy, compassion, and unfailling love. Ask Him to give you the courage to join His advancing army. Ask Him to open your eyes to dreams and visions.

 

Day 19 Scripture: Psalm 84

Do your heart and flesh feel faint? As you near the end of your fast, think of the marvelous joy of spending this one day in His courts. Praise Him for the ways you are growing and seeking Him more No matter where you are, read this psalm out loud today as your prayer to God. Personalize it or add to it. Sing it loudly or just whisper.

 

Day 20 Scripture: Zechariah 7

Are you considering continuing your fast or maybe beginning new habits of regular fasting? In this chapter people are wondering if they should continue the fasting calendar they had kept and the Lord answers through Zechariah. Since Moses' time, God instituted a whole calendar of fasts and feasts Both were designed to draw His people closer to Him. If drawing closer to God is your goal every day, both times of fasting and feasting can be holy to the Lord. Take time to allow God to speak to you about your fasting experience. Ask God to help you reflect on the ways your fast has softened your heart and influenced you to treat others differently.

 

Day 21 Scripture: Ezekiel 47:1-12

No matter how deep you are now, wade in deeper still. Don't worry about what's going to get wet. Don't stop at the point where you can keep your feet underneath you. Get swept away. What are you holding on to? What are your hesitations to living a more Spirit-led life of faith? What illusion of control are you clinging to? Go all in. Pray today that this fast will be just the beginning of a deeper relationship with God. Pray that He will continue to beckon you to dive in and let Him take complete control of your life.

 

Here is what Sebastopol Christian Church members have learned and experienced in past times of fasting:

  • It got me back on track, I thanked God more, saw people going outside their comfort zone & had more compassion toward others.

  • I’ve never fasted this long. It was a good stretch. I really see God opening doors and I sense so much of His power in my life now. I’m so glad we all did this together.I have come away being more in tune with the countless blessings provided by God.

  • My relationship with my wife was made clearer in relation to what is truly important.A place where Christ is exalted was found again and his light shines for his glory and others have seen this glory, to his praise.

  • Though I’ve not been 100% I plan to continue my fast as an act of worship to him….so good!

  • Wow! This has been a precious time with deep fellowship with God. I love where God has taken me and want to continue it. I feel renewed, joyful and inspired to share God’s love with others.

  • Less and better food. More time with God and a stronger body for serving.

  • I felt the Lord’s presence in prayer stronger at times this month than I have in a long time. By not turning to the things that fill God’s place in me-I’ve brought my entire heart to the Lord. He has strengthened me to walk through difficulties seeking Him and with much hope and peace in.When it became difficult I prayed for help and help came.

  • I was brought closer to God and had closer prayer times and repentance before God (even in the middle of the night). I have a certainty that the Lord wants us to pray for non-believers; also a greater awareness that our body is the temple and we are closer to God when the temple is clean and not filled with distracting pleasures.

  • I gave up my nightly novel reading to read the Bible. During this time my family went through a very rough patch. The Holy Spirit came to me in my days of need. My prayers were answered. I have seen transformation in my life and family.

  • I believe I was closer to God and my faith during my fast. It changed everything in my heart and my life. Thank You, heavenly Father!

  • I gave up a small thing but have gotten an even greater reward. Praise God. Thank you, God and our church.

  • I am convicted to say something about God to everyone I meet and especially to my family when we are together. I gave up desserts.

  • It was a good opportunity for my husband and me to support and encourage each other through our individual fasts. My fast will continue as the Lord guides me. Lord do a deep work in me.

  • I draw closer to God through reading each day the two scriptures chose for fasting from your list.I have really experienced a renewal and joy in my job and studies.

  • I became aware of how much of my time each day was spent focusing on things other than God. Every time I was tempted to break my fast I turned to the Lord and my frequency of turning my face to Him was increased. I don’t want to let that go.

  • Surrender-New career, new weight. Old habits are dying. A stronghold that Satan has had on me for 15 years is being broken. I am very grateful for this healing. What new hope!I realized how faithful God is when I surrender to His way.

  • I have given up desserts and He gave me success. My husband and I faithfully read the scripture and prayed together. I feel freed from prison and more energetic and well. I have lost weight and irritability. Exciting!

  • I realized how selfish I had become. I gave up junk food, wine and chocolate. As I ate healthier I realized how many times I put my wants first instead of others and how many times I put junk in my mouth instead of feeding others/serving others. It has given me a new perspective on not being selfish.

  • I did a once a week food fast and a one month media fast allowing only Christian music and checking e-mail every few days. During the month I faced two incredibly difficult challenges. In fasting I completely have to rely on God to get me through those challenges. I thought about God more and have made more effort to spend time with my family, outside of TV, etc. I’m extremely glad I fasted and have grown closer to God and my family.

  • So much good food, it’s another way for us to tune God out. Without it or less of it the focus shifted to pursuing God and paying attention to what God wants me to change in my heart, mind, life, will, actions and inactions.I felt more confident to tackle challenges. The times I was tempted to cave in, I had a strong feeling of conviction. I feel God gave me the resolve I needed to accomplish the fast. Since I started the fast I had a lot of things fall into place with work and at home.

  • Fasting sped up my hunger for God! It was so good to have an intentional time to be humbled and to hear from God. I have a renewed sense of how I want to be as a mom and wife. I have a desire to make a difference in this area- some are tangible some are yet to be discovered.

  • All the time I would have spent on Face Book I put to the word. I feel clarity of closeness to God. I’m going to continue this. God is real and a powerful strength I’m drawing on. I’ve also kept the K-love challenge, nothing but uplifting encouraging Christian music except for the 49’ers!

  • I felt clarity and peace about His power & joy in our obedience to put Him first, above our desires.

  • The fast helped greatly with things in my life. One lesson I would say that was great was that I was able to forgive myself when I slipped and went off my fast. Through God’s love and patience, I would have in the past just stopped and not continued, feeling I had totally failed.When I gave into temptation to eat chocolate I realized how shallow my commitment was BUT the grace of God to start over every minute is there along with my failure.