40-Days of Fasting
We are joining the Austin Unceasing Prayer Movement and churches across the city in 40 days of fasting and prayer from March 1 - April 9.
We are asking you to commit to a day (or several throughout the month) of fasting and prayer to know Jesus more and for city-wide spiritual awakening!
IS GOD CALLING YOU TO A FAST?
“I humbled myself with fasting…” (Psalm 69:10)
Prayer and fasting are means of yielding our lives more fully to the Lord. In fasting we let go of our plans; in prayer we take hold of God’s plans.
· creates a mood of seriousness about prayer
· increases sensitivity to the Holy Spirit
· strengthens our resolve to obey God
· heightens our desire for His presence
· purifies our motives
· reminds us to pray without ceasing
BIBLICAL FASTING FOR SPIRITUAL GROWTH
Jesus encouraged us to fast when He said, “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, 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 men 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 6:6-18 NIV)
Notice that twice Jesus said, “when” you fast, not “if” you fast. For many centuries devout and sincere followers have fasted for spiritual power and to increase the effectiveness of their prayers. Fasting is an important spiritual discipline for our own generation. Some of the practical points Jesus mentioned are: (1) fasting is expected by the Lord (“…when you fast”) (2) fasting is for the Lord’s notice not for the approval of others (“…so that it will not be obvious to men…but only to your father”) (3) God will bless you when you fast (“…your Father…will reward you”).
There are three fasts I recommend for almost anyone capable of eating a normal diet. If you have specific health conditions which affect your diet, check with your doctor about the medical aspects of fasting. For most people in reasonable health there are three simple but powerful fasts that can be undertaken to increase your sensitivity to God’s Spirit.
THE PARTIAL FAST
In Daniel 10:2-3 the prophet, who was no stranger to fasting, described a “partial fast” in which he denied himself “choice food” including meat. During a partial fast, you might want to eat only fresh fruits and raw/steamed vegetables in moderate amounts without sugar, salt, or seasonings. You would not want to drink soft drinks or beverages other than water or 100% fruit juices. For coffee or tea drinkers it would appropriate have to one cup or glass per day, without sugar or cream. This might be the perfect fast for those who need to eat something in order to take medication.
The spiritual benefits will include a heightened sense of the presence and joy of the Lord if you spend quality time in Bible study and prayer. It is an excellent way for those fasting for the first time to begin this exciting, refreshing, and rewarding spiritual discipline.
THE ONE- DAY NORMAL FAST
I have discovered the wonderful results of a regular one day fast in which I only drink water and a little black coffee during a 24 hour period. I like to fast on a given day until breakfast the next day. The rewards are tremendous! The Bible always comes alive during these days in a special way and our prayer life during the one day fast can be as powerful as we might ever experience.
As with the other fasts mentioned, common sense must be used by those with pre-existing medical conditions which require special diets. Even older teenagers can do a one day water fast if they seek God during the day and He leads them to the fast.
THE EXTENDED JUICE FAST
For those more experienced with fasting, a three day fast with only 100% fruit/vegetable juices, water, or, for the coffee/tea drinkers, a small amount of unsweetened black coffee or tea is a great exercise in commitment and sacrifice.
During this fast no solid foods, including fruits/milk products, or soft drinks are consumed. This is a more difficult fast since the body really begins to “cry” to be fed during the length of the fast.
The spiritual benefits, however, can be life-changing. Expect to hear from God during the extended juice fast. I do not recommend more than three days until you have checked with your doctor, spiritual leaders, and/or Christian family/friends.
Remember to spend at least as much time in prayer and Bible study whenever you fast as you would have spent eating.
PRACTICAL POINTS TO CONSIDER CONCERNING A FAST
· If you suffer from health concerns (such as diabetes) which demand a specific diet, a complete fast of food might not be advisable without consultation with your doctor and careful planning.
· Drink plenty of water.
· Consider supplementing water with a 100% fruit juice for an energy boost.
· Spend the time in prayer and Bible study that you would have normally spent eating.
· Most physical activity is acceptable during a one day fast but avoid over-exertion. If you feel dizzy or light-headed, rest and drink some water or fruit juice. Pace all activities. All of this depends upon how much control you have over your own schedule. It is important to carefully plan your fast, even a brief one.
· Exercise common sense.
Fasting is not a litmus test of your love for God in other’s eyes. Pray about any fast and proceed as the Lord leads you. If you have other questions, a list of books on the subject follows.
Books on the Subject of Fasting:
· God’s Gateway to Supernatural Power by Dr. Ronnie Floyd
· Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough by Elmer L. Towns
· The Coming Revival by Bill Bright
· The Transforming Power of Fasting and Prayer by Dr. Bill Bright.
Dr. J. Kie Bowman
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park Baptist and The Quarries Church, Austin TX