As we embark upon the new 2017 year, there are many churches who have decided to go on a fast. Many participate in the 21 day fast or even a 7-day fast. Fasting can be intimidating for some especially those who do not practice fasting as often or this may be your first time.
I want to assure you that during your fasting period, it will be tough and at times you want to give up, but hang in there. Don’t feel guilty if you fall or slip one day, the question is can you get back up again and continue the journey or count one day out of the required days a lost?
I want to give you practical steps to follow during your fast moment. These steps can help if you are doing 3 day, 21 day, or 40 day.
Your church may have guidelines and prayer points for the members to meditate on but these next few points can work in conjunction with what your church has laid out.
- First step: Do not solely focus on what you CANNOT do during the fast.
When we begin to think about the restrictions we will face during the fast, we are easily discouraged and it becomes harder for us to step out and fast. In result we choose not to do it at all. But I want for you to focus on what you CAN do during the fast. There are so many things that are going to occur during your time of praying and fasting. You will become more sensitive to the spirit and the voice of God. You will develop discipline by creating time for God. You will have the ability to control your flesh from what it wants and be able to submit and yield to the will of God. During that moment you are taking your attention off the world and focus more on the Kingdom of God. You may enjoy and appreciate the spiritual result so much that praying and fasting becomes a part of your lifestyle.
Fasting and Praying will allow you to change and cleanse not just inward but outward. Isaiah 58:6-7 says that, “Is this not the fast which I choose? To loosen the bonds of wickedness, To undo the bands of the yoke, And to let the oppressed go free And break every yoke? “Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry And bring the homeless poor into the house; When you see the naked, to cover him; And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?” You will not only be able to be free from the bonds of wickedness, but you will be able to help those who are in the same situation to show them a better way.
- Do not forget to pray during your fast
Many times during prayer and fasting, we forget to pray. Many times we are so focused on the fasting part that we do not pray or do not stay in the presence of God long enough. Increase your prayer time by modifying your schedule. Make a sacrifice. If you are a morning person, try to wake up earlier and spend it in the presence of God. Do just roll over and begin to pray, but get up, take a shower and get yourself ready early so you can be alert in the presence of God. I used to wake up early, get myself ready, eat breakfast and commune with God by praying and reading the word of God. You’ll feel so much better throughout the day knowing that you started your day with God. Make sure you have your prayer points written out and keep a journal of what you heard from God, dreams, and visions. When you take time to do this, you’ll forget the fact that you are abstaining yourself from food but rather delighting yourself in the Lord.
During your prayer, do not to all the talking. Take time to sit and listen. Sometimes it is hard for us to sit quietly anywhere because we feed off of stimulation. You can sit with soft worship music or instrumental music to keep you focus on listening to God’s voice. In Proverbs 2:1-5 “My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” It is in your stillness that you learn who God is. (Ps. 46:10)
- Submit your mind and your heart under the spirit of God
Sometimes we allow our flesh to rule our mind and heart. Our flesh can be so demanding and we always give in to its wants. During this prayer and fasting moment, you have to submit your mind and heart under the spirit of God. Your inner man, who is led by the spirit, should be leading your flesh. Your flesh will become hostile but you have to let you flesh know who is in control. Galatians 5:16–17, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.”
You should not be doing this alone, the spirit of God should be leading you. By allowing Him to lead, it makes the walk through prayer and fasting easier. We should be crucifying our flesh on a daily basis. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:31, “I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.”