The Facts of Fasting
It's been suggested that the founders of NorthRidge should practise the discipline of fasting at some point during our 40 days of prayer (which I think is an inspired idea). Some in our group have never tried fasting before and have asked for a game plan. What follows is Rob's "Reader's Digest" guide to fasting:
· Fasting refers to abstaining from food. Giving up other things, like video games or romance novels, is the discipline of sacrifice - a good thing to do, but it's not technically fasting.
· Remember that fasting is for our benefit. It is not a hunger strike to force God's hand. The point is to devote the time we normally spend on eating to prayer and hearing from God. The hunger should remind us that there are things more important than just satisfying our own needs.
· Some medical conditions, like diabetes and hypoglycemia, can inhibit or prohibit fasting.
· There are many variations of fasts. Abstaining from all foods (drinking only water) can range from one meal to 40 days (Matt. 4). You can also give up just solid foods or certain foods (eg. Daniel fast - Dan. 1:8-17). It's really your decision, based on how God leads you.
· A one day fast (some just give up a breakfast and lunch, fasting between suppers) can be done once a week during the 40 days without too much interference in our regular routines.
· More extensive fasts may affect work performance, but there are added medical benefits (like detoxification). The hunger pangs actually subside after 3-4 days. When they return (some time around 40 days) it's time to eat!
· Try not to make a big deal out of your fast (obviously your family will have to know when you don't join in family meals), but we want to avoid pride (Matt. 6:16-18).
Fasting in all forms gives us an added sense of personal strength, reminding us that we are Spirit-led and not controlled by "the flesh". It's good to fast before important decisions or when we need to prepare ourselves for challenges (like planting a church). We will all be taking on faith-stretching assignments in the next few months, possibly including opportunities to lead people to Jesus. This is an ideal time to increase our sensitivity to God's Spirit through fasting.
Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust. (Acts 14:23)