40 Days of Feasting & Fasting: 2/14 - 3/25
“Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” Apostle Paul
1. Think about your purpose for fasting. If you do not have a specific spiritual purpose, you are just going to be hungry – for no reason. Fasting is always abstaining from good gifts for a spiritual purpose – which is ultimately knowing and loving and enjoying God more.
Donald Whitney lists these reasons for fasting:
- strengthening prayer (Ezra 8:23; Joel 2:13; Acts 13:3)
- seeking God’s guidance (Judges 20:26; Acts 14:23)
- expressing grief (1 Samuel 31:13; 2 Samuel 1:11–12)
- seeking deliverance or protection (2 Chronicles 20:3–4; Ezra 8:21–23)
- expressing repentance and returning to God (1 Samuel 7:6; Jonah 3:5–8)
- humbling oneself before God (1 Kings 21:27–29; Psalm 35:13)
- expressing concern for the work of God (Nehemiah 1:3–4; Daniel 9:3)
- ministering to the needs of others (Isaiah 58:3–7)
- overcoming temptation and dedicating yourself to God (Matthew 4:1–11)
- expressing love and worship to God (Luke 2:37)
Fast for finding delight and comfort from God and not food. Food can easily become, in a society where it is plentiful, cheap, and tastes good, our primary means of comfort, Philippians 3:19; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. It can begin to control our lives – either by rigid avoidance (special diets, etc.) and standards or by simple gluttony, 1 Corinthians 6:12; Romans 14:23. Self-control in matters relating to food is a fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5:23.
Fast for His coming again in power and glory, Matthew 9:14-17. Fast because you want to see Jesus.
Fast to put an edge on your feelings and desire for God and His Kingdom.
2. Resolve, if possible, to fast from food. Ask your doctor if you are able to fast. If fasting from food is not possible, there is great benefit when we fast from the other good gifts God gives: entertainment, television, social media, internet games, buying clothes, sports – the list is almost endless. Any good gift God gives can begin to control our lives and provide security and comfort in God’s place. Anything in your life that has a controlling influence is a good candidate for fasting. Consider a full 40 day fast from television or a 40 day fast from social media.
3. Pray. Before you begin your fast ask God to help you to fast and to lead you into the right kind of fast. Ask God to teach you and help you to delight in Him as your fast. Ask him to open your eyes to the things you hold more valuable than him. Begin your fast with a humble and welcoming heart to all that he might teach you.
4. Fasting, prayer and Bible reading are partners in spiritual growth. Plan your spiritual activities during your fast. You will have extra time and desire to read your Bible, pray and meditate, and share your faith. Prayer lists help us organize and not forget to pray for essentials. Make a list of non-Christian friends who need Jesus. Pray for them. Pray for opportunities to share your faith and invite them to Easter services. Pray for the nations and tribes that have never heard the name of Jesus. Pray for missions and mission.
“Only as we voluntarily embrace the pain of an empty stomach do we see how much we’ve allowed our belly to be our god (Phil. 3:19). And in that gnawing discomfort of growing hunger is the engine of fasting, generating the reminder to bend our longings for food godward and inspire intensified longings for Jesus.” David Mathis
5. Start small. Start with one or two meals. Then move on to a day or two or a weekend. Drink plenty of water. Some have tried a juice fast as a starting point. They drink only juice and water for a day.
6. Consider fasting with some friends or your Life Group or with the church. Pray for each other as you fast. It’s ok to let others know, especially family or someone you eat with regularly. Just be careful that your reasons for sharing are necessary and functional and not a means to appear righteous.
7. Ask God to reveal Himself to you decidedly during your fast as you read and pray. As you are fasting and when you finish – give thanks. Fasting is a spiritual disciple that will reap spiritual results in your life.
8. Don’t gorge yourself at the end of your fast. Introduce food carefully back into your life with thanks! Be sure to stay hydrated during your fast – drink plenty of water.
9. As you end your fast make some commitments based on what you have experienced of God. You may decide to: get rid of your television, to fast once a month for a day or two, begin a plan of Bible memorization, regularly pray for non-believers in your life, etc.
10. Bring your favorites!! Rejoice with us on March 25th. Enjoying God by fasting will make God-ordained feasting, on food, more enjoyable! There will be a Feast directly after service on March 25th. Bring a favorite main dish and side, salad or dessert and be ready to share what God has been doing during our fast!!
“Fasting, like the gospel, isn’t for the self-sufficient and those who feel they have it all together. It’s for the poor in spirit. It’s for those who mourn. For the meek. For those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. In other words, fasting is for Christians. It is a desperate measure, for desperate times, among those who know themselves desperate for God.” David Mathis
Download a printable copy of this fasting guide here.