Some thoughts about fasting

A few years ago, I did a fair amount of fasting & was totally enthralled with the amazing spiritual experiences I had from fasting. I have to say that some of these experiences were nothing short of indescribable & I quickly became a fasting advocate.
Here are some quick benefits from spiritual fasting: I hear & sense God more fully, there’s an intimacy with God that’s deeply satisfying & I wrestle out some questions & challenges.
So here’s a few quick practical points for spiritual fasting:
*spiritual fasting isn’t the same as dieting so it should include some extra praying & time spent w God
*fasting can happen in lots of configurations: Daniel fast (no meats & sweets – Dan 9-10), a meal a day, fasting social media, etc
*drink lots of water & be patient
*consider keeping a journal during your fast & pay extra attention to what God is saying & to God’s presence
Happy fasting!

fasting – mistakes & suggestions

The picture below is my Ethiopian friend, Menelik, trying to teach me about Ethiopian culture & protocol before I met the Mayor of Gondar.  He did a GREAT job & I didn’t mess things up too much.  Because of Menelik’s help, I had a good experience w the Mayor & I am less intimidated because of this good experience. 

With fasting, all too often we may have a bad experience, or it didn’t go like we wanted it to, so its easy to quit & not fast again.  Ever had this experience?  Instead of quitting, could I suggest that you consider learning from the mistakes to grow & try again w God’s leading?  Also, I recently spoke in our church about fasting & thought you might find some practical advice below to be useful.  Pls be sure to leave a comment above to help others w things you’ve learned as well!  🙂

menelik_coachingMistakes & Suggestions:

Physical

Be mentally prepared for possible caffeine / sugar withdrawals

don’t neglect your appearance, Brush your teeth more often

Be mindful of your physical activity level while fasting

Consider pre-fasting:  get body ready for fasting (half decaf, cut back on soda)

Be ready to increase your fluid intake

Personal Mistakes: trying to workout, lift heavy, while fasting, trying to snowboard A LOT during a long fast, eating wrong food going into / coming out of a fast

 

Mental

Attitude check:  Is 58 says that fasting can be a bright time – even though its uncomfortable to your flesh

do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do,

Motive check:  why are you fasting?

        Various reasons:  to be noticed by people, to lose weight, to manipulate God

Don’t Try to fast more than what your body can handle

Relationships – schedule socializing around coffee / tea & not meals

Ask God to help you!

Plan – look at your calendar & work on a plan

Personal Mistakes:  Being sharp & impatient w my kids & husband, trying to fast for dual reasons – lose weight / slim down & sense God, trying to go longer than the grace God had given me, trying to fast when God hadn’t directed me to

 

Spiritual

It’s really helpful to increase your prayer & Word time during a fast

Keep a journal – questions, thoughts, the things God speaks to you

Personal Mistakes:  Not letting God direct me, Not asking God for help during a fast

 

Fasting Rewards:   your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you (Matt 6:18)

Greater clarity w God:  Hear Him more clearly, Greater sensitivity / awareness of God’s presence, Decreased self-reliance, Help in coming through tough situations

fasting failures

Have you ever tried to fast, from a spiritual premise, only to feel like you failed?  One time, i was fasting & there was a point where i hit the wall & just didn’t sense any life – it was more than just being physically difficult.  it was like i hit a dead end.  i tried to power through it, but after a few days, i just felt drained, empty & lifeless.  i came to the conclusion that God’s grace had lifted from the fast & that He intended me to finish my fast, but i was trying to “power on” without His grace or help.  Consequently, my efforts were flat, futile & even energy draining.  big learning from that mistake.

I’m giving you this example because i’d like you to share about your fasting failure(s), so we can hopefully learn from each other & not repeat someone else’s mistakes.  honesty will make this invaluable for both you & others.  🙂

fasting notes #2

Continued from yesterday:

NOW:  What does “fast” mean to us today?  Definition – adj:  to move quickly;  noun / verb: to abstain or refrain from (food)

The original meaning was “hold firmly,” & the sense evolving is via “firm control of oneself”

hold tight – to one’s self / to another moving quickly

A godly inconvenience we impose voluntarily on ourselves

 

 

HOW:  Matt 6:16-18

νηστεύητε: present indicating action in progress: Whenever ye may be fasting.

 

Do: check your motive – anoint your head and wash your face  18 so that your fasting will not be noticed by men (between you & God)

Don’t:  16 neglect your appearance (so that they will be noticed by men)

 

Fasting isn’t the goal, but rather a path to the goal – to be discussed next week

 

Application:

Œ  how can you integrate fasting into your life – to be embraced by your lifestyle?

fasting notes

Ok, a few of my friends haved asked me to post the notes from what I shared Wed night – so if you’re interested, I’m posting them in 2 parts:  fasting in the OT & NT; the 2nd part, I’ll put up tomorrow, fasting now & how.  🙂

Let me know if you like me putting up these notes (you can print them off if you want) or not (just more clutter).  Here they be!

The Feast of Fasting:  Get some fast & go far!

 Then, Now & How: People who fasted & went far – Moses, Jesus, Elijah, Paul

 

Œ THEN:  What did Jesus say about fasting?  Matt 6:16-18 – When You Fast

Fasting in OT (>20x in OT)    Purposes:

1.        Initially a natural expression of grief – Job

2.        Spiritual infusion – Moses on Mt Sinai (private)

 

Personal Fasts:  often in times of distress.

·         Moses on Mount Sinai receiving the law (Ex 24:18, 34:28)

·         Hannah fasts because she’s barren (1 Sam 1:7)

·         David fasts in mourning for Abner’s death (2 Sam 3:35)

·         David’s mourns for his son’s life – (2 Samuel 12:16 – Praying for health)

·          Elijah 40 days & nights (1 Kings 19:8)

·         Ahab responds to Elijah’s confrontation by fasting (1 Kings 21:27)

·         Ezra fasts to mourn Israelites inter-marrying w gentiles (Ezra 10:6)

·         Nehemiah fasted upon learning that Jerusalem was in ruins (Neh 1:4)

·         Darius fasted all night after placing Daniel in the lions’ den (Dan 6:18)

 

Public Fasts:  Voluntary group fasts  – Lev 16:29-31; 23:27; Num 30:13

·         Benjamites defeats the other Israelites (Judg 20:26)

·         Israel defeats Philistines & repents re: Eli – (1 Sam 7:6)

·         Israel grieves from Saul & sons dying in battle (1 Sam 31:13 & 2 Samuel 1:12)

·         7 day fast was held when Saul & sons were buried (1 Sam 31:13)

·         Jehoshaphat calls to fast – opposed by Moabites & Ammonites (2 Chron 20:3)

·         Those returning w Ezra from the Captivity fasted for safety (Ezra 8:21,23)

·         People repent of their evil ways (Ne 9:1)

·         Esther & Jews fasted when faced w destruction by Haman (Est 4:3,16; 9:31)

·         Jehoiakim declares a fast for people to repent from evil ways (Jeremiah 36:6–10)

·         Reacting to Jonah’s preaching, the king orders everyone to fast (Jonah 3:5)

·         Fasting was done during the 70 years of the exilic period on the 5th & the 7th months, the date the siege of Jerusalem began and the date when Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians (Zech 7:5).

 

Fasting in the NT:  both personal & public (>10x)

·         Anna at the Temple  (Luke 2:37)

·         John the Baptist led his disciples to fast (Mark 2:18).

·         Jesus said that fasting was not suitable for His disciples while He was with them (Mt 9:14-15; Mk 2:18-20; Lk 5:33-35)

·         Jesus fasted to begin his public ministry, and have the power of God and the anointing. (Matt 4:2ff, Luke 4:14)

·         Jesus said some come out only through Prayer & Fasting (Mk 9:29)

·         Cornelius was fasting at the time of his vision (Acts 10:30)

·         Selection of Paul & Barnabas as 1st Missionaries (Acts 13:3)

·         Paul & Barnabas fasted at appointment of elders in churches (Acts 14:23)


Fasting can be from things besides food: 1 Corinthians 7:3-5
Jesus did not require fasting as a part of Christianity: Matt 9:14-17

to feast or fast, that is the question

fastingI’m so excited about getting to share about fasting in our church!!!  Tonight, we talked about Jesus’ discussion about fasting in the Sermon on the Mount.  Truth be known, I’ve been really eager to share about fasting because I think its one of the best kept secrets of Christianity.  I invite you to read the comments above to get some useful insights, refreshing honesty & reflective thoughts – leave your own comment too!

If you’re in Denver, please consider adding to your fasting plan some really good prayer opportunities:

  • every Monday 7pm w Dad in the Elevate rm
  • every Sun 6am w Cleo in the Altar Counselling Room
  • 2nd Fri of each month 6-11p w JoAnn in the Altar Counselling Room
  • 1st Fri of each month 7pm w Kathy at her house (call church office for directions)
  • last Sat of each month 830a in lobby / foyer
  • pre-service prayer:  Sun 830a & Wed 615p in Altar Counselling Room
  • Mon, Wed 630-730a in Auditorium

Keep in mind – get some fast in your life to go far!

understated

iguanasi called a friend a few days ago to talk w her about what God had been speaking w me about in my morning prayer time.  i was so thoroughly rocked that i started crying as i talked w her & if you know me at all, crying isn’t part of the normal operating routine.  crying was an outward expression of total amazement at the sense of God’s presence w me in the car at that time, as i tried to share the amazing things God was speaking w me about.  these last few days have been extremely powerful for me on a deeply personal level.  i’m sensing God dealing w me about things that have been difficult for me for a very long time . . . & i feel God walking and talking w me deeply, clearly and with healing. 

This kind of reminds me of an experience i had w God when i was 14 at a summer church camp – i came home w such an intense awareness of God that i sensed Him throughout my entire summer before high school.  My experience over the last few days has been similar & even now as i write, i feel His presence.  i pray that your needs, questions, unknowns, etc serve as paths to a greater interface w God in your daily living, in an ongoing way. 

i’m eager to watch God over the next few weeks, as I begin a series on Wed nights related to fasting & Jesus’ words on fasting in the Sermon on the Mount – come if you can, but at least check out the blogs & feedback from a few days ago about the experience of fasting from lots of different people (their insights, suggestions, frustrations, experiences, etc). 

i’m amazed by God

THANKS so much!!!

smile_orangutanI can’t tell you how much I appreciate all of the fasting feedback!!  I’m using lots of the insights personally in fasting, so thank you LOADS for helping me grow in God by sharing your thoughts & experiences!  If you haven’t left a comment yet, please do – even if you don’t think you have much to say (something is better than nothing). 

Also, do you have any books or additional websites you’d recommend for fasting?  Please leave any ideas you have in a comment, as I’m trying to be pretty thorough. 

Again, thanks so much for your help & keep it coming! 🙂