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Hungry for God

Hungry for God

On the first Wednesday of every month members of the St Luke's community will be joining together to pray and fast. To mark these days we will be also be gathering to pray in three locations across the city (more information) but what about fasting? Read on to find out more...

WHAT IS FASTING?

Fasting is a spiritual discipline that is taught in the Bible. Jesus expected his followers to fast, and not just the super holy ones either. Fasting, according to the Bible, means to voluntarily reduce or eliminate your intake of food for a specific time and purpose.

This could be:


  • A Normal Fast: Don’t eat for 24 hours and drink water.
  • A Partial Fast: Miss one or two meals, or cut out particular items from your diet.

When you give up eating, don’t put on a sad face like the hypocrites. They make their faces look sad to show people they are giving up eating. I tell you the truth, those hypocrites already have their full reward. So when you give up eating, comb your hair and wash your face. Then people will not know that you are giving up eating, but your Father, whom you cannot see, will see you. Your Father sees what is done in secret, and he will reward you. Matthew 6:16-18

WHY FAST?

There are many good reasons, for fasting. However, we want to encourage you to find time to fast for four primary reasons:

1. Fasting gives you more time for prayer. You can use the time you’d normally spend eating as time in prayer for what God wants to do among us during Lent. In the Bible, fasting is always connected with prayer.

2. Fasting connects our bodies with the act of prayer. We are used to praying with our words and with our mind but fasting enables us to pray, as integrated spiritual and physical beings, with our body.

3. Fasting demonstrates the depth of your desire when praying for something. It shows you that you are serious enough about your prayer request to pay a personal price. God honours deep desire and praying in faith.

While they were worshiping 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 had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. Acts 13:2-3

Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord. Joel 1:14

4. Fasting releases God’s supernatural power. It is a tool we can use when there is opposition to God’s will. Satan would like nothing better than to cause division, discouragement, defeat, depression, and doubt among us. United prayer and fasting has always been used by God to deal a decisive blow to the enemy!

So we fasted and prayed about these concerns. And he listened. Ezra 8:23 (Msg)

God says, “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?” Isaiah 58:6

THE IMPORTANCE OF FASTING

Often in the Bible, God’s people fasted immediately before a major victory, miracle, or answer to prayer. Fasting and praying lead to a breakthrough in their situation and prepared them for a blessing!


  • Moses fasted before he received the Ten Commandments.

Moses was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments. Exodus 34:28


  • The Israelites fasted before a miraculous victory.

Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Sea. It is already in Hazazon Tamar” (that is, En Gedi). Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. 2 Chronicles 20:2-3


  • Daniel fasted in order to receive guidance from God

So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. Daniel 9:3


  • Nehemiah fasted before beginning a major building project.

When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Nehemiah 1:4


  • Jesus fasted during His victory over temptation.

For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by the Devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when the time was up he was hungry. Luke 4:2 (Msg)


  • The first Christians fasted during-decision making times.

While they were worshiping 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 had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. Acts 13:2-3

THREE CAUTIONS


  • Remember that fasting is not “earning” an answer to prayer. God cannot be blackmailed by human effort. God wants to answer our prayers and He answers out of grace. Fasting simply prepares us for God’s answer.
  • Fast only if your health allows it at this time. If you are able only to do a partial fast, or fast something that isn’t food – do it in faith and God will honour your intentions.
  • Please drink lots of water while you fast.

Health advice on fasting from the NHS can be found here.

WE’RE FASTING AS A COMMUNITY

We want to encourage you to join with us on the first Wednesday of every month to pray and fast with the rest of the St Luke’s community. Spend that day giving more time and focus to God and seeking him for breakthrough in our world, our church life as well as personal breakthrough for you and your family & friends.

FURTHER READING

We would highly recommend reading Richard Foster’s chapter on Fasting in his book ‘The Celebration of Discipline’; This is a must read for any follower of Jesus and will be invaluably helpful for you along that journey.

For an edited version (shorted/paraphrased) of the chapter on fasting: http://www.thelighthouse.org.za/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Fasting-Booklet.pdf