Luke 5:33–35 (ESV)
33 And they said to him, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink.” 34 And Jesus said to them, “Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? 35 The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.”
Pastor Chris prepared us for the annual, all-church fast which runs Jan. 6th through the 26th. Since fasting and prayer go hand in hand, he invited Delaney McCall, Prayer Coordinator, to help us focus on the ways to pray as we fast.
First, Chris reminded us of the biblical importance of fasting and prayer:
Ten Thoughts on Fasting
- Fasting is a voluntary absence from food for the purpose of dedicating yourself to prayer.
- Fasting changes us, not God.
- Fasting is an invitation and grace.
- Purposes in Fasting:
- When facing impossible circumstances (Nehemiah 1:4).
- To change the destiny of a people, a city, a nation (Nehemiah 9:1).
- To hear from God fresh and new and to seek His direction (Ezra 8:21).
- To receive God’s aid in battle and to defeat the enemy (2 Chronicles 20:3).
- To get hold of God to receive specific answer to prayer (Acts 10:30).
- To seek the mind of God (Acts 13:2).
- To prepare for ministering in the power and grace of God (Matthew 4:2).
- To obtain a greater degree of God’s authority and power (Matthew 17:21).
- To afflict the soul, dig down, pull out anything in our mind, will, and emotion that would hinder the life and power of God fully expressed in our lives (Leviticus 16:29, Psalms 35:13, Proverbs 20:27, Hebrews 4:12).
- To break the strongholds of the physical appetites.
- Benefits of fasting and prayer:
- Fasting deepens humility and dependence on God.
- It can deepen the hunger for God to work in our lives and ministries.
- Fasting intensifies prayer concentration.
- Solidifies determination.
- Feeds your faith.
- Sensitizes and opens you up more to the Holy Spirit’s working in your life.
- Fires earnestness and zeal – honest sincerity in your walk with God.
- What do you need to fast about?
- Heightened awareness of God. Start to hear God more clearly.
- Gain a new perspective and a renewed reliance upon God.
- Why should you fast?
Need a breakthrough? Restored relationship? Clear direction?
- Fasting is a short season that brings long-term results.
Expectation of God’s direction, answers to prayer.
- Fasting is a time of spirit-led self-examination.
- Fasting Expectations: options to choose a liquid only fast, or the Daniel fast (no meats, sweets, treats), or the Benedict fast (give up one meal per day). God meant for us to fast from food. If you elect to also fast from other activities (social media, entertainment, etc.) that’s really abstaining.
- If you are not praying, you are not fasting.
Delaney then shared these thoughts on praying as we fast:
Two-fold process: 1) fasting is laying down, 2) prayer is picking up
Joel 2:12-13 “…return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love….”
If you consider prayer boring, consider what the Lord does through the prayers of his people.
- Prayer is first ministry to the Lord – Rev. 1:6, we are a kingdom of priests
- Prayer is an act of faith, not empty words or feelings:
- James 5 – for faith
- Romans 10 – grow in faith
- Hebrews 11 – cling to faith
- Mark 11:23-24 – speak out faith
- Prayer is our primary way to grow and maintain intimacy with Jesus. Our foundation of intimacy is our initial surrender of salvation, the starting point. Prayer is the catalyst to keep building intimacy.
Were meant to be on mission as a Praying Church. Prayer is a lifestyle.
- When you think of fasting, what first comes to mind? How does it make you feel preparing to fast?
- Why do you suppose God instituted the discipline of fasting for His people?
- What are some benefits of fasting that you’ve personally experienced? Maybe a breakthrough or miracle?
- City Central has provided many resources to help you in this fasting time. Explore the “Awaken Fast” button on the City Central mobile app. You’ll have access to the reasons for our church-wide fast, answers to questions about fasting, and weekly devotionals to guide you for the three weeks.
- Also, there will be times for personal and corporate prayer during the fast. Our prayer room is open the following hours during the fast: