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April 8, 2014

Prayer, Fasting and Personal Devotional Guide

April 9th through Good Friday, we're fasting together as a church and reading through specific scriptures as we draw into Easter together. Like prayer and Bible reading, fasting is one of the spiritual disciplines of followers of Jesus. The next few paragraphs are here to help you get your mind around fasting, and help you get started on this powerful Christian habit!

What is fasting?
Biblical fasting is, quite simply, denying oneself food for the sake of seeking and honoring God. Pastor Stovall Weems says that “Prayer is connecting with God; fasting is disconnecting ourselves from the world.” That’s a great way to describe the feeling. You can fast from other things that connect you to the world, too. Things like TV, video games, social networking, and more.

Why should I fast?
Over time, it’s very easy for our souls to get gunked up. Fasting is a way to give our bodies and our souls a deep cleaning. When we do, we find that not only do we feel better, but as we draw closer to God, we are more in tune with His voice.

How do I fast?
There are several different types of fasts. Some of our suggestions will help you detach from some of the distractions of everyday life. You may choose to fast from distractions such as Facebook or TV, or you may choose to fast from certain types of food. Feel free to mix it up and do a different type of fast for each day. But don’t make this time all about what you eat or don’t eat, or about the things you can’t do. This is all about drawing closer to God and replacing some of our common distractions with time to pray, read our Bibles, and seek God like never before. On days where you decide to fast from distractions, give them up for the whole day. On days where you are fasting from food, or specific food items, do what you feel challenges you spiritually. Don’t hesitate to get out of your comfort zone. If you have fasted before, mix in a few days of fasting from food and go all liquids.

How should I prepare to fast?
For a 1-day fast it doesn’t take much preparation. It’s best to slow down your eating before the fast, then pick it back up slowly by eating small, simple foods. For a longer fast, DEFINITELY prepare this way. It’s smart to plan ahead and make sure you’ll have plenty of the fruits, vegetables, juices, etc. on hand. If not, you’re likely to overeat at your next meal, and that’s never a good choice.

What should I do while fasting?
Drink lots of water. Have a daily quiet time. Listen to worship music. Think. It’s also a great idea to journal about what you are learning during your fast.

How to have a daily quiet time.

It’s best to do this in the morning. Why? Because once your day begins, there will be a million distractions. Learn to put God first in your day, and he will multiply your time. You’ll find that you get more done in less time.

During your quiet time, go through the daily devotional this way:
1. Scripture: Read the scripture passage listed for that day. ( Daily Scripture passages are on the back of this guide. )
2. Observation: Think about what you see that clicks with you. What do you think it means? Are you going through a similar situation?
3. Application: How do you think this scripture applies to you personally?
4. Prayer: Pray and ask Jesus to make those applications real. Is there something you need to change? Someone you need to speak to? Apologize to? A different way you need to act? Is there something God is asking you to do that you’ve never done before? You may have noticed that the pattern spells SOAP. Wash your brain with the Word of God. Easy to remember. You can continue this practice in your daily time with Jesus.

 

Go for it! You’ll be glad you did.

NOTE: Fasting requires reasonable precautions. If you have any health concerns, please consult your physician prior to beginning your fast, especially if you are taking medications, have a chronic condition, or are pregnant or nursing a baby.