For as long as I’ve been a Christian (about 13 years), I’ve started my year off with a time of fasting and prayer. When I was first saved, the concept of fasting was so foreign to me. I honestly questioned what I had gotten myself into with these “peculiar people”! For 21 days, I wasn’t going to drink coffee, watch TV, eat meat or sweets? Is this a cult!
But very quickly, I discovered the purpose of Biblical fasting and the benefits it offered to followers of Christ. It wasn’t about what I was abstaining from over the 21 days. It was about what I was focusing on for this period. I was focusing on prayer and meditation, spending time with God without the distractions of entertainment and overindulging. I was focusing on seeking God’s plan for my life, wisdom for my year, and listening for his instructions.
There are so many examples of fasting in the Bible in both the old and new testaments. David fasted when he wanted to save his sick child. Esther fasted to save her people from genocide. Daniel fasted for instruction from the Lord. Jesus fasted for 40 days in the desert at the beginning of his ministry. Fasting is one of the most powerful weapons in the believer’s arsenal of weapons against the enemy. Biblical fasting is not a hunger strike or just a great way to lose a few pounds. It is a time dedicated to seeking God and prioritizing his place in your life.
There are some awesome teachings on fasting which are linked below, so I will not reinvent the wheel and go into too many details of how to fast. Check out those resources when you can! I just wanted to share my experience with fasting and why my family makes it a part of our walk with the Lord.
For 3 weeks in January, we do what is commonly known as the Daniel Fast. It’s a 21 day fast where we abstain from meat, sweets, sexual relations, and drink only water. As coffee drinkers, the last one is probably the most difficult for us! We also limit our time watching TV, on social media, and other forms of entertainment, like movies and social events. Does this sound boring? Well again, it’s not about just giving things up! We instead spend our time in prayer and meditation. We increase our time in reading and discussing God’s word, worshipping as a family and seeking God’s direction for our family in the upcoming year.
I won’t lie to you, when you first start fasting, it can be hard! Because I drink a lot of coffee, my first few days are rough as my body detoxes from the lack of caffeine. I feel tired and weak and irritable but it is during this time, I’m reminded that God’s grace is sufficient for me (2 Corinthians 2:9). When I get a little hungry, I’m reminded that Jesus is the bread of life and I am sustained by him (John 6:35). When I want a cookie, I’m reminded that his word is sweeter than honey from a honey comb (Psalm 19:10).
As I focus on the goodness and mercy of God, I am reminded that fasting is an opportunity not an obligation. Jesus gave up everything for me, surely I can give something up for him. I get excited as the beginning of the year comes around because it is a way to honor God with a time of consecration (setting apart to make holy) and a time committed to strengthening my faith and connection with Him. If you’ve never participated in a time of fasting, I recommend you consider trying it! You will not be disappointed! My fasting period for 2020 is January 6th-January 26th if you’d like to join! You can join my reading plan in the YouVersion app by clicking on this link! https://bible.com/p/21583690/09b3770a0e3b40d89c7ac537d9d3786c
(Jentezen Franklin) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wckWsKr7-78