Every year we take some time together as a church to fast and pray for 21 days. We like to schedule this in the lead up to our Anointing Service (coming up on 1 July), and so we'll be starting our fast on 11th June.
So why do we fast?
Fasting is about preparing yourself for a new season. In Matt 9: 14-17 we read
Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?”
Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.
“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”
While Jesus walked on earth it was a time of celebration. The new HAD ALREADY COME. But with Jesus' death, resurrection and return to God's right hand, we are in a different time. Moving with where God's going is a little harder than simply following Jesus while he walked on earth. And that's where fasting comes in. We ensure that we are pouring new wine into new wineskins through fasting and seeking after God.
John Piper defines fasting like this, "Fasting is a temporary renunciation of something that is in itself good, like food, in order to intensify our expression of need for something greater; namely, God and his work in our lives."
Fasting often beings breakthrough and fresh revelation. Moreover, in Matt 6:16 Jesus teaches that "when you fast", as though it is assumed that as Christians we WILL fast as a practice.
Why 21 days?
Well there is no indication in the Bible that specifically mentions fasting for 21 days. We choose to do 21 days because 3 weeks is a good amount of time. It is also the time that it takes for a new habit to take root in a person's life.
How to fast?
Take some time to decide how you want to fast. Don't just go through the motions! And please, DO NOT fast to lose weight! It is not a diet. Losing weight (if you do) is icing on the cake :)
Personally I have a conviction that fasting should include food. But this is something you have to decide for yourself. As mentioned above, fasting is about denying yourself something that is inherently good, putting it aside to seek after God. If you are fasting food, there is lot of resources out there about different food fasts that you can do. Word of advice, don't jump into a big fast (e.g. water fast) without doing your research. If you need some pointers please get in touch with us.
After you have decided what kind of fast you are going to do, schedule TIME to pray. If you are fasting a meal, that would be an awesome time to couple it with prayer. We have prayer calendars available to give you ideas of what you can pray about.
Finally, keep a record of what you're praying for. Then when God grants you what you have been praying for you can have a record of answered prayer!
I'm so excited for our church as we step into this season of fasting and praying! I love that we will be ending with our Anointing Service, but even before we hit that date, I'm believing for amazing stories of God coming through for you!