BEGIN WITH PRAYER
O God of peace, who has taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be our strength: By the might of your Spirit, lift us, we pray, to your presence, where we may be still and know that you are God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever and ever.
READ THIS OVERVIEW
Fasting is one of the most abused and least used of all the spiritual disciplines. Yet for millennia, it has been a core practice for apprenticeship to Jesus. All the great heroes of the Old Testament fasted. The first story we read about Jesus’ adult life is of him fasting for forty days and nights, like Moses and Elijah before him. The central characters of the New Testament continued this practice, as did the early church, which fasted twice a week – every Wednesday and Friday – for over a millennia. It’s not until quite recently that fasting fell out of favor.
And that comes as no surprise. We live in a culture not only of food, but of excess and luxury and addiction to what pyschologists call “the pleasure principle.” Yet for so many of us, the desires of our body have come to hold power over us. In the battle with our “flesh,” we have become its slave, not its master.
Fasting is an ancient Christian discipline to break the power of the flesh in our life – our desires, sins, and cravings – and to feed on the Holy Spirit.
Like all the spiritual disciplines, it’s really easy to lose sight of the “why” behind fasting. So this series will focus less on tips and tecniques, and more on the right motivation. There are three major motivations for fasting in biblical theology, and we will spend the next few weeks working through them. This morning we will focus on the flesh and the Spirit.
“Fasting is an opportunity to lay down an appetite – an appetite for food, for media, for shopping. This act of self-denial may not seem huge – it’s just a meal or a trip to the mall – but it brings us face to face with the hunger at the core of our being. Fasting exposes how we try to keep empty hunger at bay and gain a sense of well-being by devouring creature comforts. Through self-denial we begin to recognise what controls us. Our small denials of the self show us just how little taste we actually have for sacrifice or time with God. This truth is not meant to discourage us. It’s simply the first step in realising that we have to lay down our life in order to find it again in God.” Adele Calhoun
PREPARE TO FAST
- Set aside a week/days to fast and prepare the details
- Consider Your Lifestyle: Although fasting for short periods of time is generally considered safe, you should consider any medical conditions you might have before fasting.
TYPES OF FASTS:
- Full fast (no food, only liquids)
- Daniel Fast (eat no meat, no sweets and no bread. Drink water and juice. Eat fruits and vegetables)
- Partial fast (fasting part of the day – for example, from 6:00 am to 3:00 pm, or from sun up to sundown)
Click here for more on why and how to fast and here for a talk on fasting from Ps Greg
- INDIVIDUAL FAST: Commit to a specific week or days of that week: Take the first week of January to prepare and decide in advance how you might be called to fast.
- COMMUNAL FAST : Join our shared time of fasting by fasting two meals every Tuesday through First Seek. *See the Tuesdays section for invitations to pray that day
- As you fast on the day you decide, each time you feel a hunger pain or think about food or take a lunch break (with no lunch!), use it as a prompt for prayer. Turn your heart to God and ask him to starve your flesh and feed your Spirit. Use your imagination to “see” yourself drawing strength from God himself.
- Here are three other things you can do as well:
- Break a Habit – Identify a specify sin or habit or pattern that you want to break. Spend the day in prayer for freedom in that area.
- Journal – Take a little time for self-reflection. Get your journal out or go for a walk and think about what this Practice is revealing about you. Richard Foster said, “Fasting reveals the things that control us.” If you just feel “hangry” all day, or if you can’t make it more than a few hours, ask yourself, “Why do I feel this way?” Treat yourself compassionately, as God does, yet honestly as well. Remember: the point isn’t a guilt trip but freedom.
- Read Scripture – “Feed” on the word of God, like Jesus did in the wilderness.
WORK THROUGH THESE QUESTIONS
- Are there any other things you can do to prepare?
- What’s an area of your life you would love to get more freedom in?
CLOSE IN PRAYER
Spirit of adventure, holy-inviter of ledge- dancing faith and precipice living; be our courage now as we tread nervously the lines of fear and trust.
If we stay where we’ve always been, seeing God as we always have, there’s a good chance we’ve domesticated Him and are missing out on the fullness of His beauty——Don’t be scared of risk, of change or a truly transformed mind. God can surely only be more good at the end of it.