Fasting is an ancient discipline to break the power of the flesh–our desires, sins, and cravings–and to feed on the Holy Spirit.
Follow along with the recommended reading. We want to continually expand our minds and understanding of the way of Jesus. God wants us to love him not only with our hearts, souls, and strength, but with our minds as well.
WHY DO WE FAST?
Fasting is a willing abstinence from food for a period of time. It is one of the most abused and least used of all the practices of Jesus. Yet for millennia, it was a core practice of apprenticeship. We live in a culture not only of food, but of excess, luxury, and addiction. 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.
We recommend you work through it with your community, a small group triad, a weekly meal with friends or neighbors, your roommates, whatever works. Get a group of people, set a time each week to share a meal, then talk and pray for about an hour. Transformation happens in community.
STARVING THE FLESH FEASTING ON THE SPIRIT
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 psychologists 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 practice will focus less on tips and techniques, 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 week, we will focus on the flesh and the Spirit.
- How do you all feel about this new Practice?
- What’s an area of your life you would love to get more freedom in?
- Do any of you fast on a regular basis? Do you have any encouraging stories of fasting and the role it’s played in your apprenticeship to Jesus?
- In what ways do the dangers of a spiritual discipline like fasting often keep us from the good that God has for us?
- Set aside a day to fast. We recommend that your Community fasts together starting on the night you meet, but it’s up to you.
- Pick a time to end the fast. Our recommendation is that your Community starts your fast with your weekly meal tonight and goes through lunch tomorrow. Another option is the “regular” fast, which goes from sunup to sundown, about twelve hours – so you would skip breakfast and lunch and then eat a late dinner. You can make your fast longerby skipping more meals (perhaps fasting for a full twenty-four hours), or shorter by breaking your fast at noon or 3pm. Again, it’s your call.
- 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.
- Three other things you can do:
- Break a Habit – Identify a specify sin or habit or pattern in your “flesh” 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.
CLICK THE DROP DOWN TO FIND SCRIPTURES TO ENCOURAGE YOU DURING FASTING
As hunger pangs remind you that you are fasting, you may not be in a place where you can read the Bible. That could be a great time to practice a memory verse that you are working on.
This is not a requirement, but a suggestion of verses of scripture you could be mulling over during your time of fasting.
Choose as many or as few of these verses that you would like to challenge yourself with.
Week 1: Isaiah 55:8-9
Week 2: Romans 1:16-17
Week 3: Matthew 26:40-42
Week 4: Revelation 21:22-23
Whole month: Isaiah 55:6-11
Whole month: Isaiah 55:1-13