Posted on 01/10/17.
"Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need." - Matthew 6:33 (NLT)
We believe 2017 can be your best year yet, if it's your best year spiritually. This is why we're starting off the year seeking God "FIRST". The goal of fasting is to draw nearer to God...Biblical fasting always has to do with eliminating distractions for a spiritual purpose; it hits the reset button of our soul and renews us from the inside out. In both the Old and New Testament, God powerfully rewarded those who fasted. 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, one of the 1st things he did was fast. And don’t misunderstand me: Fasting won’t make God love you more. You can’t earn your way into heaven. However, like the author of Hebrews reminds us: “God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6).
So we're encouraging our entire church family to join in on the 21 days of prayer and fasting, and we're believing it will be a catalyst for a year where God does more in and through us than we ever could of dreamt or imagined.
Below is helpful information as you prepare for the 21 days of prayer and fasting.
Having a successful fast starts with the right preparation. It is important to choose ahead of time what type of fast, or what combination you will pursue. Not only will this help with making the necessary preparations to implement your plan, but as you commit to a specific fast ahead of time and know how you’re going to do it, you will position yourself to finish strong.
Here are a few Easy Steps to Get Started:
1) Set Your Objective
Begin by deciding why you are fasting. Is it for spiritual renewal, for healing, for wisdom in a particular area, or the resolution of a specific issue? Pick the top 1-3 prayer requests or things you would like to seek God on. Don’t overwhelm yourself and make a laundry list of items. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead in deciding and clarifying your goals for fasting.
2) Choose Your Plan
We are all at different places in our walk with God. Likewise our jobs, daily schedules, and health conditions are all different and place various levels of demand on our energy. So most importantly, whether you’ve fasted before, or this will be your first time, prayerfully consider what your fast will look like. Your personal fast should have a high level of challenge to it, but it’s very important to know your own body, know your options, and most importantly, seek God in prayer and follow what the Holy Spirit leads you to do. Remember, the goal of fasting is not just to do without food. The goal is draw nearer to God.
3) Choose Your Fasting Schedule
You may choose to fast all or several days of the 21 days, such as, 3 or 4 days a week or specifically on Sundays and Wednesdays. Maybe you will do that, and end with 3 to 7 consecutive days at the end. This is your personal decision, and again should be prayerfully considered as it applies to your circumstances. Just plan ahead.
4) Begin and Break the Fast Well
Depending on the type of fast you choose, it is very important to prepare your body ahead of time before beginning the fast. Take a week or so to transition into your fast; otherwise, you could get sick. For example, if you would like to go on fruits and vegetables or juice fast, start eliminating meat, white grains, and refined sugars from your diet the week before. Also start to cut back quite a bit on dairy products and some of your caffeine intake.
This same principle applies to breaking your fast. When your fast is over, add foods back very gradually. Your body will be so cleansed and detoxified. You will most likely get sick if you add too much rich foods, etc. all at once.
There are also several websites and books that offer additional resources for spiritual growth, recipes and nutritional information to help you along the way. Here are a few that we recommend.
Websites for Fasting Info
DanielPlan.com RebootwithJoe.com Juicerecipes.com All-about-juicing.com JuicingwithG.com
Books for Spiritual Growth: If you would like to grow in your understanding of how spiritual disciplines like fasting and prayer can help you grow spiritually, check out the following resources:
Beginner The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People by John Ortberg Purchase here
Intermediate Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard Foster Purchase here
Advanced The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives by Dallas Willard Purchase here
Most Practical Fasting: Opening the Door to a Deeper, More intimate, More Powerful Relationship with God by Jentezen Franklin Purchase here
Important 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.
While preparing for your fast, it is important to choose ahead of time what type of fast you will participate in. Not only will this help with making the necessary preparations to implement your plan, but as you commit to a specific fast ahead of time, and know how you’re going to do it, you will position yourself to finish strong. Choosing your fasting plan is a very personal decision. We are all at different places in our walk with God and our spirituality should never be a cause for comparison or competition. There is nothing more “inherently spiritual” about one type of fast as opposed to another.Your personal fast should present a level of challenge to it, but know your body, know your options, and most importantly, seek God in prayer about this and follow what the Holy Spirit leads you to do. It’s also important to not let what you eat or do not eat become the focus of your fast. This is a time to disconnect enough with your regular patterns and habits in order to connect closer to God. Listed below, are some options and variations of different types of fasts you can choose to engage in. As you read over the information provided here, please consider how it applies to your circumstances and convictions. Fasting does require reasonable precautions. If you have any health concerns, please consult your physician prior to beginning your fast – especially if you are taking medication, have a chronic condition, or if you are pregnant or nursing.
Specific Food or Activity Fast
This type of fast refers to omitting a specific item(s), activity or habit from your time of prayer and fasting. For example, you may choose to eliminate red meat, processed or fast food, or sweets. It could also involve fasting from an activity or habit, such as television watching, or social media.
Daniel Fast (http://danielplan.com/)
The Daniel fast is a great model to follow that proves to be extremely effective for spiritual focus, bodily discipline and purification in the body and soul. It is probably one of the most commonly referred to types of fasts, however within the term “Daniel Fast”, there is room for broad interpretation. In the book of Daniel, we find two different times where Daniel fasted, once in Daniel 1 and again in Daniel 10. Daniel 1 states that he ate vegetables and water, and in Daniel 10, while the passage does not give a specific list of foods that Daniel ate, it does state that Daniel ate no rich (or choice) foods as well as no meat or wine. So based on these two verses, we can see that either of these, or any variations in between constitutes a fast. Again, there is nothing “inherently spiritual” about one type of fast as opposed to another. It is important to seek God in prayer and follow what the Holy Spirit leads you to do. Here are some links that provide some suggestions of what a Daniel fast can look like as well as some recipe options.
Click Here for a sample menu for the Daniel Fast.
A juice fast is when no solid food is consumed and instead involves the intake of vegetable juices, fruit juices and water. Some juicing resources that we recommend include:
RebootWithJoe.com JuiceRecipes.com All-About-Juicing.com
A water fast is eating no foods and drinking no liquids except water for a period of time. Extreme precautions should be taken with a water fast and should be done under the direction supervision and monitoring of your physician.
Duration and Extent of Your Fast
"FIRST" is intentionally designed to be flexible. As with choosing what type of fast you will be undertaking, it is important to also decide ahead of time how long you will be fasting and to what extent you will be fasting. Some people may choose to fast at one level all 21 days and then culminate with a special 3 day fast at the end. Others may choose to fast one week out of the 21 days, or even fast once or twice a week throughout the 21 day period. This is a personal decision and one that should be prayerfully considered.
Important 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.
Click Here for some great fasting recipes to use.
An easy way to explain the benefits of prayer and fasting to kids is to compare it to cleaning out old toys that might no longer work, or that they might have outgrown, to make room for new ones. As we clean out our bodies and make time to connect closer to God and His Word, we make room to receive new gifts from Him.
Kids Fasting How-To’s
We do not recommend that children skip meals or drastically reduce their food intake, but a modification of their diet might prove to be an easy place to start. For example, fasting from specific items such as sweets, red meats, fried foods or even introducing a form of the Daniel fast which includes legumes, nuts and whole grains is a great way for children to participate in a safe and healthy way.*
Another great way to fast is by reducing some of the time and energy spent watching TV, playing video games, using the computer or phone, and instead choosing to spend time praying, reading their Bible or serving others.
Refer to this “Sample Fasting Calendar for Kids” as an additional resource for you and your kids during the fasting season.
The main thing is for kids to recognize the value behind setting aside special times to disconnect from some of the extra-curricular activities and treats they enjoy on a regular basis and learn how to connect to God in a closer way. Write down a few prayer requests and pray together for those things throughout the fast.
*Please note, you should always check with your child’s pediatrician before your child(ren) begin any type of fasting.
Click Here for a great devotional to use during FIRST.