If you’ve come to Substance in the last few years, you’ll know that we start out every new year with a season of fasting. And if you’ve never heard of the spiritual discipline of fasting before, allow me to give you a quick definition: Fasting is a process of abstaining from something for the purpose of worship, prayer, and self-discipline.
And keep in mind: Fasting doesn’t merely mean: abstaining from food. After all, you can fast almost anything. For example, my wife will often fast sweets, desserts and candy. Other people fast movies, t.v. shows, or even coffee. (I realize that I just made a lot of you really nervous!) But trust me: Fasting is one of the most amazing spiritual disciplines that God gives us. Fasting is the best mirror to reveal the true state of our self discipline. And if that sounds scary, consider your alternatives: Crisis and moral failure.
But the truth is, fasting is actually quite exciting when you realize how powerfully God rewarded those who fasted in scripture. Quite simply, fasting gives us supernatural advantages in living life. For example, the book of Isaiah says: Those who fast get healing (Isa.58). Jesus said: Those who fast get Power over demonic oppression (Mk 9). Again, Isaiah said: Those who fast will live like kings: “You’ll ride on the heights of the land” (Isa.58) When Ezra fasted, God gave protection over his kids & possessions! When Daniel fasted God gave him understanding (Dan.9). When Eliazar Fasted God gave him a woman! (Some of you Men suddenly started taking notes). When Jesus started his earthly ministry the 1st things he did was fast. So keep in mind: This isn’t just a “neat discipline” for crazy people. This is an essential discipline for anyone who wants to experience life to the fullest.
So how do I participate? Well, quite simply, pray about what God would have you fast & simply join in, January 7th through the 27th! Spiritual disciplines like this can actually be quite fun when you’re doing it alongside a big group of people. Or, come out and hang with us at our Tues.night Deeper services. Pastor Rob Champion will be sharing some messages on Fasting. Also, here’s a link to many of our past messages on fasting. We’ve taught over 8 messages on fasting in the past two years. They are sure to get you super excited about your fast.
But allow me to get practical. Every year people ask me for tips on fasting. And for those of you who’ve never fasted before, here are a few tips to making this a fun experience:
(1). Start out with short fasts (e.g., skip lunch): Once you understand how it affects your body, slowly extend them to experiment: When I do 24 hour fasts, I start by eating lunch, skipping dinner/breakfast/lunch… and then break it with dinner the next night. After a few days, hunger pangs tend to subside.
(2). When you fast, do it with Friends! It helps to process your experience with other people. It also keeps you encouraged while you fast!
(3). Give yourself extra margin and rest. When you fast, plan on going to bed early.
(4). Drink lots of water: You can’t survive long without water. Gatorade (for electrolytes) or Juice is also good.
(5). Could fasting be Dangerous? Potentially. It can also be incredibly healthy too. It takes about 21 days before starvation symptoms set in; so, don’t worry that you’re going to die after a 24 hour fast. If pregnant/nursing/diabetic/etc, get counsel before any extended fast. If you’re really worried about sickness, etc., do a fruit & vegetable fast and skip everything else.
(6). When fasting, stay in an Attitude of Worship (Isa. 58). It sounds obvious but, remember that you’re worshipping God when you do this. So, if all you do is whine the whole time, you’re defeating the whole purpose! Keep in mind, God responds powerfully when we seek him (Heb.11:6).
(7). Make a fasting Calendar: I love to have variety when I fast. So when I map out my 21 days… I don’t always do “juice only” for 21 days straight. Often, I like to mix it up. For example, I’ll do 4 days of fruits and vegetables only (a.k.a., a Daniel Fast), then a juice only day, then a free day. For me, I’ve found that this kind of variety helps me stay in a worshipful attitude more. But experiment for yourself. Remember, this should be a fun yet challenging experience.
(8). Ask your family to participate: Even my 9 and 11 year olds have voluntarily asked me if they could join in. They aren’t doing full “juice only.” But, they’re fasting video-games / iphones / & sweets. At the website Awake21 you’ll find a few resources on how to include your kids. http://www.awakeningrevival.com/media.html
But one thing is for sure: This can be your best year yet, if it’s your best year spiritually. So don’t miss out. Let’s do this together.