Are you willing to fast?
If you knew that some form of fasting over the next 40 days would benefit the spiritual, physical and financial state of people living in the city of Detroit and its surrounding suburbs, would you do it?
A healthy fast rooted in a concentrated study of The Bible and prayer should also answer questions like:
- How much am I willing to risk for my family and my neighbors?
- What should be my investment in my church, my city or township, the state of Michigan and my country?
Today’s Devotional Scripture
“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." (Matthew 6:16-18, New International Version)
Explanation of Fasting
The most common definition of "fasting" or "to fast" is "to abstain from all food" or "to eat only sparingly or of certain kinds of food, especially as a religious observance." It is a common practice during the Lent season as Christians prepare for Easter Sunday.
Fasting was an established practice in the 1st Century (and hopefully the 21st Century), because Jesus taught His followers how to fast in passages like Matthew 6:16-18 and 9:15. The early church fasted as recorded in Acts 13:2.
Fasting is not for everyone
Certain physical illnesses and conditions prevent an individual from fasting. If you have any doubts about the impact of fasting on your physical health, you should consult your family physician. The intent of fasting is to seek spiritual insight from Almighty God, not to put yourself in serious physical distress.
What type of fast is appropriate as we count down the days until Easter Sunday?
Types of Fasting
Here are three common types of fasts:
- Normal Fast - Fast from food and/or beverages except water 1 day a week or 1 meal a week.
- Daniel Fast - Vegetables and water only or vegetables, fruit and water only. (See Daniel 10:3)
- Consecutive 40-Day Fast - Fast from something you love. It could be something you consume frequently (sweets, coffee, soda pop, snack food, etc.) or something you do excessively (smoke, drink, text, tweet, surf the web).
If you are interested in avoiding the wrong approaches to fasting, watch the video by the Skit Guys attached to this article.
What does fasting accomplish?
I encouraged Examiner readers to participate in a fast two years ago as part of the Everyone A Chance to Hear (EACH) campaign. EACH is a healthy and viable ministry in metro Detroit and is currently assessing and finalizing their 2013 program. If you and/or your church is interested in participating in EACH this year, there is a unification meeting scheduled for Wednesday, February 27 from 10 am to 12 pm at Landmark Community Church, 24520 N. Chrysler Drive, Hazel Park, Michigan.
The personal benefits I have experienced from fasting are:
- A greater sensitivity to what the Holy Spirit is trying to tell me
- A heightened recognition of how frail I am and how mighty God is
- An increased focus on the content and meaning of what I am reading in The Bible
- A willingness to set aside distracting "things" and focus on my relationship with my redeemer, Jesus Christ.
Here is a suggested prayer to help you decide whether you will fast during part or all of the 40-day period before Easter:
"Heavenly Father, give us the wisdom we need to decide whether we will fast. If we decided to fast, guide us in selecting the type of fast that is right for us. Help us to not give in when the temptation is great to stop fasting. Help us to hear the Holy Spirit providing direction and encouraging us to be obedient. Give us focus. May we hunger and thirst for You. May your will be done. In the name of Jesus we ask. Amen."
Please Note: The devotional articles in this series count up to Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013. Since this is the first article, it is "Day #1". Tomorrow's article will be labeled "Day #2", Thursday's will be "Day #3" and so forth.
Feel free to comment on this article, contact me @denimartin via Twitter or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.