Prayer and Fasting Overview Doc – Raleigh Street Christian Centre – Feb 2021
NB: The following notes are modified from previous notes.
Would you like to grow in your prayer and fasting journey with the Lord? Have you tried it but feel disillusioned and frustrated with previous experiences?
Biblical fasting is refraining from food for a spiritual purpose. Fasting has always been a normal part of a relationship with God and references to it are found throughout the bible. Fasting is also setting time aside and allowing God to speak into your life.
In Matthew 6, Jesus provided the pattern by which each of us is to live as a child of God. That pattern addressed three specific duties of a Christian: giving, praying and fasting. Jesus said:
Verse 2 “When you give…”
Verse 5 “When you pray…”
Verse 16 “When you fast…”
A few thoughts around preparing for the fast: spiritually and physically
Consider getting a prayer and fasting journal to write down what God is saying/doing/what you are experiencing/prayer requests/praise and thanks etc throughout the fasting period.
Consider asking someone to be your prayer partner through this time. Sometimes it is helpful to journey with others.
Do not “stock up” on food this week – especially the food you plan on eliminating. In fact, it’s a good idea to start cutting down on things this week, so if you are cutting out sugar…then start reducing your intake this week.
Drink plenty of water!
Plan meals for next week.
Get intentional with regards your time with God – that may mean planning when/where you can feast on Him and His Word when you would’ve been eating or it may mean preparing some scriptures to focus on.
Fasting is the example set by Jesus: Matt 4:1-11. Jesus fasted before He began his earthly ministry
Fasting is a battle: Dan 10. Things happen in the spiritual realm when we fast and pray. Fasting is a battle for us physically as we are at war with our flesh and it’s desires. Fasting is a battle spiritually as there is an enemy who is trying hard not to loose the battle, but he already has! So do not fear - Rom 8:37. Put on the armour of God Eph 6:10-18 to equip ourselves daily. 2 Cor 10:4.
Fasting empowers us for what God calls us to do: Acts 13:2
Fasting acknowledges our complete dependence on God. The physical weakness we experience reminds us that He truly is the One who sustains us and the only One that can truly satisfy us.
Fasting is about food. The physical side effects and cravings serve as a constant reminder that we desperately need the Lord and we understand this dependence in a greater way when we restrict our food and put “King Stomach” in its rightful place.
Fasting is not about food. While self-denial of food is necessary, it must never take centre stage. (That’s a diet) Rather, celebrate a physical and spiritual cleansing, heightened spiritual sensitivity, joy in serving the Lord and others, fellowship with the Lord etc. Remember, if for health reasons you cannot fast food, please reflect/consider how denying something like TV or social media impacts your walk with the Lord…what are the distractions in your life?
Fasting is about you. Matt 11:28 The Lord wants us to bring our needs before Him and He longs for us to draw close to Him.
Fasting is not about you. It is not only about what we want, it’s about God and what He wants. Zech 7:5 Our heart motive for fasting is important.
Fasting is life-changing. When coupled with fervent prayer, it truly is life-changing. James 4:7-10
Some thoughts from Scot McKnight, who writes:
“Far too much of the conversation today about fasting, is about what we can get and not enough about the serious and severe sacred moments that prompt fasting.” (That serious and severe sacred moment could be sin, death, fear, needs, sickness etc)
He also writes: “Fasting is to union with God what a marriage ring is to a loving couple. As the ring is not what prompts their union, so also the fasting in not what prompts union with God. Love prompts the giving of a ring and it is the love that moves the relationship beyond the ring to genuine union with one another. A more complete view of fasting suggests that it is the combination of our yearning to know God and our present state of not knowing God intimately enough, that prompts the person to fast with the hope of encountering God. The grievous sacred moment is our lack of intimacy with God.”
Five people in the bible who fasted:
Moses: Ex 19, 33 and 34
Elijah: 1 Kings 19
Daniel: Daniel 9
Jesus: Luke 4:1-13
Esther: Esther 4-7
Practical tips when ending a fast:
A suggestion: break your fast with communion – either on your own or with loved ones.
Gradually introduce foods that you have fasted this week…we need to be gentle on our stomach.
Make time to reflect on the prayer and fasting week in the next few days – Reflect on Him and who He is and all He has done – given you strength, encouraged you through His Word and sustained you through the power of His Holy Spirit, what did you learn, what was a challenge?
Journal or record things about the fast while it is still fresh in your mind.
There is a natural tendency at the end of a fast to relax, but keep pressing into the Lord with a renewed fervour.
A Hunger for God, John Piper:
Richard Fosters book on Celebration of the Spiritual Disciplines
Types of fasts: There are many websites that explain the types of fasts…here are two suggestions from 24/7 Prayer and Church of the Highlands:
Love the prayer guide and asking for prayer requests.
Daniel Fast info: