If you’ve been at the Vineyard over the past couple of Sundays, then you’ve probably heard that we are taking this next week as a week of prayer & fasting. While we’re sure some of you have had some experience with prayer & fasting in the past, we recognize that for many people this may be the first time, they’ve actually had an opportunity to be part of something like this. So, I thought I’d take a few minutes, explain why were doing this, & then give a bit more information on what fasting involves.
So, why a week of prayer & fasting?
Prayer & fasting is a time when we focus on God, and give him our full attention. Doing it as a church, means that many of us are coming to God with a unified focus and request! Specifically, our focus over these next 7 days is that Jesus will be glorified in our city and that God would do great things in our city and in our church.
Now, we believe that when we pray stuff like this, we are simply praying God’s will. For example, I’m fully convinced that our Heavenly Father wants to see Jesus glorified. So when a group of people, humble themselves, & seek God on stuff that He desires…great stuff will happen.
Over the next few days, we’ll list some specific focuses to pray about on the Vineyard’s Facebook & Twitter accounts. Obviously, you can go beyond these (please do!), but these will simply be there as a guide to give you some direction.
A great place to start, when thinking/studying the topic of fasting is Isaiah 58. This passage really gets at the goal of fasting, why we do it, and where God fits in.
What is Fasting?
Depends on if you want the long answer or the short answer. When I was first learning about fasting, I was taught that it was going with out food (and perhaps beverages) for a specific period of time (usually at least one day). Sometimes it would be longer, other times, it might be skipping one meal.
Now, it is pretty common to hear people talk about fasting from “Facebook, the internet, tv, etc.” But regardless of how it is done, the goal is to give something up, so that we can instead focus ourselves on seeking God.
If you’d like some biblical examples of fasting, here’s a quick list that might be helpful: : Moses (Exodus 34:28), David (2 Samuel 12:16-17), Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1); Esther (Esther 4:15-16), Anna (Luke 2:37), Jesus (Matthew 4:1-2), the early church (Acts 13:1-3), Paul (Acts 14:23).
Is Fasting Some Legalistic Type of Thing?
Sadly, like anything, people can, and have taken means of relating to God that He has given to us, and twisted them until they become rules with no life. We clearly don’t want to go there. At the same time, Jesus makes it clear in the gospel of Matthew that those who follow him will fast:
16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
In other words, fasting is simply a normal part of what it means to follow Jesus. It is a way that helps us to focus on God, grow as disciples, and take part in what God is doing in the world.
I hope you’ll consider join in with us this week as we fast and pray. And we’d love to hear how it goes for you.
PS – if you have any questions about fasting, drop a comment here on the blog.