Spiritual Disciplines, sometimes we talk about this word discipline, and we might get a little freaked out, but this kind of discipline is a good thing. It helps us to get into a pattern of focusing on God. Today we will talk about fasting. Fasting is not a bad thing but a very powerful and underutilized discipline. “John Wesley practiced a weekly fast from sundown on Thursday to sundown on Friday. He refrained from eating food while drinking water and tea during the day. On Friday evening he broke the fast with a light meal (broth, bread, and water or tea). During the fast Wesley spent much of the time in prayer and reading Scripture.”
Elaine Heath in her book “Five Means of Grace” says this about fasting; “As we take up the spiritual discipline of fasting in the way of Wesley, then, the appropriate posture is one of humility and openness to God, both to present ourselves vulnerable to God and to open ourselves to receive direction and blessing from God.” Fasting is a discipline that helps us focus on God and then allows a person to set aside designated time to be in prayer, journaling, or even mediation with God.
Elaine Heath says that “Fasting prepares the whole person, body, mind, and spirit—to carry out the missional purposes of God. Fasting literally empties us so that we can be filled with God’s spirit of discernment and authority.” The question then becomes what type of fast will you try? Here are some examples:
Types of Fasts:
Partial Fast: A partial fast is when you fast all food for a set specific time throughout the day. For example, you may decide to fast from sunrise to sunset and eat food only in the evenings.
Complete Fast: Also known as a full fast, a complete fast is when you do not eat any food (and consume liquids only) for a specific period of time. Please consult a medical professional in advance if you intend to do a complete fast for a prolonged period of time.
Daniel (Found in Daniel chapter 1): A Daniel Fast is where you avoid meats, sweets, and treats for a specific amount of time. During a Daniel Fast, you normally consume rice, beans, vegetables, and fruits, while avoiding bread, meats, dairy products, sugars and sweeteners, and alcoholic beverages.
Other Types: Electronics like TV or video games, certain types of food like if you can’t go without coffee or soft drinks then maybe that is what you fast.
When should I tell others that I'm fasting and when do I keep it to myself? Why?
What's the difference between a fast and a cleanse? Explain.
Why does it feel like there is more opposition while I’m fasting? Is this normal? How do I deal with this?
Fasting is not manipulating God. Fasting is not a way of manipulating God into answering our prayers; it is not a hunger strike to ensure that God will meet our list of demands. Read Jeremiah 14:10-12 and explain why fasting means so much more.
Why would you consider adding fasting to your regular discipline? Explain.