Church planting and ministry in general are spiritual works. However, it’s easy to get so caught up in the administrative/practical side of things that we lose sight of the spiritual side. One way to refocus is through fasting. I try to regularly (a few times per year) lead our church through times of corporate prayer & fasting. If fasting is something new to you or someone you know, below is a run-down of the how and why…
In Matthew 6, as Jesus begins talking about fasting, He says, “When you fast…” assuming that His followers will fast. In Mark 9, a demon-possessed boy is brought to Jesus because the disciples couldn’t cast the demon out. Jesus casts the demon out (none stand a chance against Him), and the disciples ask why. He replies, “These can only come by prayer and fasting.” It seems that there are certain victories that can only be won through extra time dedicated to prayer and fasting. Regardless of the scope and specifics your church or ministry, as Christians, we are waging war on the spiritual realm. Fasting is a tool that God has given us to sharpen and deepen the power of prayer.
It seems that there are certain victories that can only be won through extra time dedicated to prayer and fasting.
Prayer doesn’t always have to be accompanied by fasting, but fasting should always be accompanied by prayer. Fasting without praying is just starving yourself, and Jesus wasn’t laying out a hyper-spiritual dieting plan. Instead, fasting is replacing something good (food) with something better (prayer & worship). Fasting disconnects us with earthly things and connects us with the things of God. Instead of feasting on a meal, you have extra time to feast on God’s faithfulness (Psalm 37:3).
What if I can’t skip meals?
Fasting in Scripture is almost always from food, but there are lots of ways to fast, especially for those who medically can’t skip meals. You can substitute time that you would normally spend watching TV, sleeping, on social media, or just 1 meal instead of all 3. The goal is not punishing yourself – it’s clearing your schedule to devote more time to prayer.
The practical side of fasting…
Wean yourself off of food. Don’t shove an entire tub of ice cream down your throat at 11:57 as your “last meal before the fast.” That will set you up to fail.
Stay hydrated. When I’m fasting, I drink way more water than typical. Since your body isn’t taking in nutrients through food, make sure you stay extra-hydrated.
Watch out for coffee. I’m a big coffee drinker, except for when I’m fasting. I’ve found (for me) that coffee on an empty stomach is a bad combo, so I lay off for the day.
Work out spiritually, not physically. Doing lots of hard labor while not eating can be dangerous, so be careful. I go to the gym often, but not typically when I’m fasting. And if I do, I’ll eat a small meal afterwards, just to replace what I just burned.
Ease back in. Don’t slam 7 bowls of cereal the next morning after a fast. Ease your body back into a normal routine of eating by eating fruits and vegetables and drinking plenty of water.
Don’t flaunt it. Jesus says that if you use fasting (or prayer) to be seen by men instead of heard by God, you’d better listen up for everyone’s applause…because that’s all the reward you get. Instead, take good care of yourself and smile! The joy of the Lord is your strength.
PRAY MORE. That’s the whole point of fasting. During the time when you would have normally been preparing a meal, eating, or doing whatever activity you’re giving up, spend that time in prayer.
Fasting is a great tool that’s highly underused. Let’s bring it back. And remember: God is big. Pray like it!
Fasting is a great tool that’s highly underused. Let’s bring it back.
What are some of the practical ways you fast and/or lead others to fast?