"...He ate nothing during those days..." Lk4:2
If we look in the dictionary one of the definitions for the word fast is to abstain from food. It is a very common practice among believers during Lent season. There are different degrees of strictness in fasts:
· Complete self-denial from food, for example Esther4:16
· Maintaining a plain diet also known as Daniel fast - Daniel10:3
· The Bible speaks of short and long periods of fasting, for example 40 days in Ex34:28, Lk4:1-2 and 3 days in Ac9:9, Esther4:16
Before choosing a fast I strongly urge you to pray and wait on the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Consider your health and dietary restrictions, for some individuals especially if taking prescription medications or have chronic illness it will be necessary to consult with a physician. It is very important that you make a choice that will not put your health at risk.
With this in mind and taking into account that fasting is an act of sacrificing the personal will I want us to consider having a soul fast. Think about personal practices that cause us to stumble in our walk with the Lord. In essence habits that don’t align with God’s word. Here are few examples: spending a little too much time in front of the TV, having a negative thought pattern, unhealthy habits such as smoking, excessive shopping, trouble taming your tongue, pride, etc. If you have a hard time coming up with something I suggest spending some time in prayer asking God to reveal what in your behavior is out of alignment with the scripture and His will for you. The next step will be to abstain from it during Lent.
In scripture we see that fasting is a matter of the heart and always goes hand in hand with prayer. Mt6:18, Ac13:3, 14:23. Following are instances in which God’s children in the Bible fasted:
· Distress (examples: grief, anger, anxiety) Ac9:9, Ps35:13
· Repentance/remorse Joel2:12, Ezr10:6
· Humbling oneself Ps35:13, Isa58:3, 6-9
· To gain understanding Da10:3
· Before commitment to do God’s appointed work for them. Act14:23, 27:33
This Lent season, as the Holy Spirit leads, it will be beneficial for our faith journey to dedicate time for prayer and fasting.
Here are few simple steps to get us started:
· Praying before starting the commitment.
· Confession-admitting before the Lord your heart’s condition and any sins that the Holy Spirit brings to mind.
· Forgiveness – accept God’s forgiveness and if He brings to mind someone you need to forgive, be obedient and do so.
· Prepare for spiritual growth – stay in the word, meditate on it, memorize some of the verses that speak to you from the Bible.
· When tempted to brake the fast commitment turn to the Lord, pray and meditate on scripture that addresses the struggle.
In closing fasting paired with prayer is an expression of our dependence on God. It is a process during which we sacrifice the person will in order to be able to hear His voice clearly. It is a time of spiritual growth.
Making it personal:
Dear Heavenly Father, I admit my dependence on you. This Lent season I want to sacrifice my personal will in the area of _____. Help me to be strong and lean on you when keeping my commitment to fasting and prayer becomes tough. I want to hear your voice clearly. Lord, may this be truly a time of spiritual growth. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Walk with God and glorify His name.
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