A Call to Fast and Pray
Our church has been called to unite in a time of fasting and prayer between 31st May - 2nd June. We recognise that this may be something that is new to many of us, so this newsletter contains some helpful insight and guidance on how to get the most out of your fasting experience. We are in a period of seeking God regarding potential changes in the way we operate as a church. The accompanying newsletter viewed here identifies the focus points of our prayer at this time. As you wait on God, please fast in whatever way you think is appropriate for you, and do keep a record of any promptings or words you feel the Lord gives you, so that you can share them with the leadership and the church as appropriate. Thank you.
King David said “I put on sackcloth and humbled myself with fasting” Psalm 35:13
Ezra leading the exiles back to Jerusalem “I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children.” Ezra 8:21
Biblical Fasting is associated with either Repentance, Mourning or Supplication. It was always ultimately a means of Humbling oneself before God.
STEP 1: Set Your Objective
Why are you fasting? Is it for spiritual renewal, for guidance, for healing, for the resolution of problems, for special grace to handle a difficult situation? Ask the Holy Spirit to clarify His leading and objectives for your prayer fast. This will enable you to pray more specifically and strategically.
Through fasting and prayer we humble ourselves before God so the Holy Spirit will stir our souls, awaken our churches, and heal our land according to 2 Chronicles 7:14. Make this a priority in your fasting.
STEP 2: Make Your Commitment
Pray about the kind of fast you should undertake. Jesus implied that all of His followers should fast (Matthew 6:16-18; 9:14,15) For Him it was a matter of when believers would fast, not if.
There are 3 different types of fasting identified in the Bible.
Absolute Fast: - abstain from all forms of food and drink (Moses)
Normal Fast: - abstain from food but continue to drink (Jesus)
Partial Fast: - abstain from certain types of food or drink - or other activity (Daniel)
If you don’t have much experience of fasting it is recommended you start with a short normal fast or a partial fast.
Before starting your fast decide what physical or social activities you will restrict (as well as food it can be helpful to refrain from other activities such as TV, facebook…) Determine not to fill the space created in your day with busyness or other activities, but rather enjoy devoting the extra time to prayer and God’s Word.
Whatever you decide, making these commitments ahead of time will help you sustain your fast when physical temptations and life's pressures tempt you to abandon it.
STEP 3: Prepare Yourself Spiritually
The very foundation of fasting and prayer is repentance. Unconfessed sin will hinder your prayers. Here are several things you can do to prepare your heart:
- Confess every sin that the Holy Spirit calls to your remembrance and accept God's forgiveness (1 John 1:9).
- Seek forgiveness from all whom you have offended, and forgive all who have hurt you (Mark 11:25; Luke 11:4; 17:3,4).
- Make restitution as the Holy Spirit leads you.
- Ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit according to His command in Ephesians 5:18 and His promise in 1 John 5:14,15.
- Surrender your life fully to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Master; refuse to obey your worldly nature (Romans 12:1,2).
- Meditate on the attributes of God, His love, sovereignty, power, wisdom, faithfulness, grace, compassion, and others (Psalm 48:9,10; 103:1-8, 11-13).
- Begin your time of fasting and prayer with an expectant heart (Hebrews 11:6).
- Do not underestimate spiritual opposition. Satan sometimes intensifies the natural battle between body and spirit (Galatians 5:16,17).
STEP 4: Prepare Yourself Physically
Fasting requires reasonable precautions. If you take prescription medication or have a chronic ailment, you should not do a food fast without professional medical advice.
Physical preparation makes the drastic change in your eating routine a little easier so that you can turn your full attention to the Lord in prayer.
- It can be helpful to prepare your body by eating smaller meals before starting fast and avoiding high-fat and sugary foods.
- During a fast be sure not to overdo physical exercise and rest as required.
- Prepare yourself for temporary mental discomforts, such as impatience, crankiness, and anxiety.
- When you finish your fast, be sure to begin eating again gradually. This is more important the long you have fasted.
STEP 5: Expect Results
If you sincerely humble yourself before the Lord, repent, pray, and seek God's face; if you consistently meditate on His Word, you will experience a heightened awareness of His presence (John 14:21). The Lord will give you fresh, new spiritual insights. Your confidence and faith in God will be strengthened. You will feel mentally, spiritually, and physically refreshed. You will see answers to your prayers.
A single fast, however, is not a spiritual cure-all. Just as we need fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit daily, we also need new times of fasting before God. A 24-hour fast each week has been greatly rewarding to many Christians.
It takes time to build your spiritual fasting muscles. If you fail to make it through your first fast, do not be discouraged. You may have tried to fast too long the first time out, or your may need to strengthen your understanding and resolve. As soon as possible, undertake another fast until you do succeed. God will honour you for your faithfulness.
Some people find it helpful to make a devotion time schedule during a period of fasting.
The list below may also be helpful in focusing your prayers.
HOW to Experience and Maintain personal revival.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any unconfessed sin in your life.
- Seek forgiveness from all whom you have offended, and forgive all who have hurt you. Make restitution where God leads.
- Examine your motives in every word and deed. Ask the Lord to search and cleanse your heart daily.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to guard your walk against complacency and mediocrity.
- Praise and give thanks to God continually in all ways on all days, regardless of your circumstances.
- Refuse to obey your carnal (worldy) nature (Galatians 5:16,17).
- Surrender your life to Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord. Develop utter dependence on Him with total submission and humility.
- Study the attributes of God.
- Hunger and thirst after righteousness (Matthew 5:6).
- Love God with all of your heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37).
- Appropriate the continual fullness and control of the Holy= Spirit by faith on the basis of God's command (Ephesians 5:18) and promise (1 John 5:14,15).
- Read, study, meditate on, and memorize God's holy, inspired, inerrant Word daily (Colossians 3:16).
- Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
- Seek to share Christ daily as a way of life.
- Determine to live a holy, godly life of obedience and faith.
(Compiled with input from Article by Bill Bright.)
“While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they fasted and prayed they placed there hands on them and sent them off.” Acts 13:2,3.
“Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and with prayer and fasting committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.” Acts 14:23.
“My Grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness. I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me….For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor 12:9,10)