By Kristin Bonham
Prayer & fasting as a church body can be a powerful experience. It can help us break barriers in our personal lives and accomplish things together as a like-minded group of believers. On Tuesday, January 1st, we will begin a church-wide fast at Grace Family Church. The fast will last for 21 days and will end with a Celebration Night on Monday, January 21st.
I have to say that I am excited about this Church-Wide fast! I would not have said that years ago… the thought of giving something up, especially food that I love like desserts, cheese, chips and salsa, makes me want to eat up as much as I can even as I write this. However, over the years, God has changed my heart about fasting and I look forward to eliminating distractions and focusing on hearing God.
What is a fast? What is the purpose? Do I have to give up all food?
You may have a lot of experience fasting or this might be the first time you have heard of doing a fast for spiritual reasons. So to answer the first question, fasting is abstaining from something. It could be certain foods, an activity or entertainment. The point of fasting is to remove something that focuses on physical pursuits and replace it by focusing on our spiritual life.
The purpose of fasting is to focus on God. You may be looking for direction from God in a certain area. You may feel the need to pray more specifically about something. You may choose to fast in order to break the hold of sin in your life. Whatever it is, when we eliminate distractions and set time aside to pray, God will do a work in us and reveal more of who He is to us.
Fasting involves sacrifice. You may have health concerns that would prevent you from fasting food. I would suggest praying about fasting something else that would be a sacrifice to give up for 21 days. I have fasted different things at different times; social media, refined sugar, meats, television, even sleep. A few years ago, I had been praying about fasting and what to fast and I felt God leading me to wake up at a certain time during the night and pray. At first, I set my alarm to get up but as the days passed, I would find myself awake at my time to pray. It was a strange thing to consider at first but the times of prayer were free of every distraction. I love to look back on that prayer journal and see what God showed me during that time and what He has done in me since.
Matthew 6:16-18 “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”
Here are some things to think about as you prepare for a fast.
- Determine what you will fast. Don’t feel pressure that you have to give up what someone else chooses. Ask God to lead you and He will.
- Write down the things you want to focus on during your daily prayer time; Your relationship with God, Family relationships, Friends, Church.
- Plan for your fast. Removing things from your pantry that you will be giving up will help you succeed on your fast from certain foods. Shop ahead if you are doing a dietary and plan your meals.
- If you’re fasting an activity like social media, television or something else, prepare for how you will spend your time.
- Start a new journal for writing what you’re praying about and specific Bible verses that stand out to you. You can write what you feel the Holy Spirit speaks to you during your fast.
- You may want to prepare your family ahead, not to boast about fasting, but so they are aware and will be supportive and sensitive.
I hope you are encouraged as you consider joining Grace Family Church on this 21 day fast. We are asking everyone to pick one hour each day to pray, and consider coming to the GFC campus if you can. The Sanctuary will be open for prayer every weekday from 6:00 AM – 8:00 AM and 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM and on theweekends from 6:00 AM – 8:00 AM. The GFC Facebook page will have prayer and fasting encouragement and the Beautiful Blog writers will be sharing their fasting testimonies with you all month.
“May the Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”
Kristin Bonham is a pastor’s wife and the Women’s Ministry Director at Grace Family Church. She’s been married to Chris for 24 years and is mom to Taylor, Abby and Casey. She loves the beach, New York City and traveling with Pastor Chris to anywhere tropical. She collects books and reads some of them. Her favorite part of the week is Sunday lunch with family and friends around the table.
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