Our next worship gathering is September 2 at 6:45pm. Right now, we plan to be in the St. Johns Room at Faith Community Church (3450 CR210, 32259). But check back here.
It’s a holiday weekend and the location is subject to change. Are you in need of spiritual breakthrough? Have you been praying and working for something and feel like you’ve hit a brick wall? Consider prayer with fasting. I realize that may sound a little odd or extreme. Most conversation about fasting these days relates to fasting for health reasons. Many people who follow Jesus have never fasted for spiritual reasons and may consider it beyond the comfort zone. But Jesus taught about fasting in the Sermon on the Mount like it was a common place, spiritual practice, like prayer or giving to the poor. He began that teaching with the words: “When you fast…” He offered instruction on how to fast in a way that honors God (rather than ourselves). For Jesus, the idea that his followers would fast and pray was a given.
Earlier this month, a number of us agreed to fast and pray for ten days. Our agreed upon purpose was to empty ourselves, to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and to gain God’s heart for the people in our path. I invited people to pray for two groups of people over our time: 1) five people whom they thought God might be inviting them to connect with in terms of discipleship, and 2) close friends and family. I also encouraged them to pray for other matters God may be laying on their hearts, too.
I have learned it’s important to offer extra instruction when I invite my people to fast. I encourage them to be creative, practical, and to plan ahead. Many elected to fast from food for a portion of time. One person made plans to go five days. Many adopted a restricted diet – refraining from something they craved. Most everyone refrained from some other form of appetite, for example news, movies, talk radio, social media, going out for lunch, buying sodas, etc. My personal plan: I fasted from food for two days from Wednesday night to Friday night. Afterward, I cut out dairy and sugar. Additionally, I refrained from Facebook. Oh, and I was a guest at a friend’s house on Sunday, I took that day off electing to graciously eat whatever was set before me. (Drawing from what Jesus taught, I think it’s important that our fasting doesn’t create work for those around us.)
We kicked off the fasting with a meal and broke the fast with communion. We encouraged one another through the ten days with texts and updates.
Some good reports started coming in right away: increased self-control, opportunities to share faith with a loved one, openings for prayer with others, and steps toward new discipling relationships. That’s what leads to multiplication! I think a new discipleship huddle is coming together – and that excites me. One person gained insight about a new sense of calling. Another was filled with the Spirit of the Lord in ways I’ve not seen in him before: joy, love for others, and a enriched prayer life. We’ll see what happens. Should more unfold, I will share their stories. More breakthrough seems required, though. Forgive this play on words, but we may need more praying through for breaking through.
On a side note, we had a worship gathering right in the middle of our ten days. Wow! That was easy! I shared with Dan, who enriches our worship gatherings with song and music, that it would be a pretty easy night. Very often in worship experiences, we have to work at encouraging people to freely express their love for God and to listen for his voice. When most everyone in the room is fasting and praying, that work is already done!
Personally, when it ended, I was kind of glad. I really missed dairy and sugar. I also fasted from Facebook – and am considering giving it up. It’s such a negative environment most of the time. I feel better about my country and humanity after ten days without it.
But I look forward to what happens next. For me, the prayer with fasting has increased my desire to see disciples of Jesus engaged in loving, prayerful, action addressing every evil that comes against the people of the First Coast. I want to see God’s Kingdom advance here!
Our next worship gathering is September 2 at 6:45pm. Right now, we plan to be in the St. Johns Room at Faith Community Church (3450 CR210, 32259). But check back here. It’s a holiday weekend and the location is subject to change.