Can you describe the present condition of your heart? If your heart is like mine, it’s heavy. It’s saddled by the uncertainties of the times in which we are living. It’s encumbered by concerns for our adult children as they worry about job security and whether or not to send their children back into a classroom this fall. It’s riddled by fears for our grandchildren’s health and well-being amid this pandemic.
One of the best ways to lighten our hearts is to turn to the Lord in prayer and release our burdens into His trustworthy arms. For this reason, many of us are looking for ways to enhance our prayer life.
Prayer is a spiritual discipline or religious exercise, which draws us into a closer relationship with Christ. We can make our prayers more powerful and effective by praying in conjunction with one of the other disciplines, such as worship, fellowship, Bible study and fasting. The most unfamiliar of these disciplines is the ancient tradition of fasting or abstaining from physical nourishment for a specified amount of time.
I recently began to fast once or twice a month. I admit that I am still a novice; however, I have already discovered that the benefits of fasting far outweigh the hunger pangs.
Types of Fasts:
There are three types of fasts:
We observe a Regular or Normal Fast when we abstain from all food and drink, except water. Jesus observed a regular fast during His forty days in the wilderness. He ate “nothing during those days. And when they were ended, He was hungry” (Luke 4:2). Theologians assume that our Lord drank water; otherwise, Scripture would tell us that He was thirsty, too.
We observe a Partial Fast when we abstain from a particular type of food such as meat or high-caloric foods. Daniel observed this type of fast after receiving the devastating news that the first wave of Babylonian exiles to return to Jerusalem abandoned the work of rebuilding the Temple because of the intense conflict and spiritual warfare they encountered. Grieved by this news, Daniel abstained from meats, delicacies and wine. (Another popular partial fast is to drink only liquids such as juices and smoothies.)
We observe an Absolute, Austere or Complete Fast when we abstain from all food and drink including water. Esther instructed the Jews in Susa to join her in an absolute fast for three days while she prepared herself to approach King Ahasuerus about his misguided mandate for the annihilation of the Jews. (Note: We can only live without water for three days; therefore, the fast prescribed by Esther lasted for this specific amount of time.)
In my limited knowledge and experience fasting, I see how easy it is to push through the hunger pains with my own willpower. When this happens, the fast become about me and not God.
I have a dear friend who has made fasting a part of her lifestyle for twenty years. IWhen I asked her how to keep God first in my fast, she made the following recommendations:
- Start small. (Giving up one meal alone honors and delights our Lord.)
- Define a specific reason for the fast. (Are you fasting for repentance, healing, guidance, renewal, anointing, strength against spiritual warfare, etc.?)
- Determine the type and length of the fast.
- Sanction the day by approaching God’s throne of grace the night before the fast.
- Don’t schedule any meetings, doctor’s appointments, shopping trips or salon visits during the time you have allotted to fast. Spend the time reading the Bible and praying.
- Start a journal by recording the date, type of fast and reason for the fast.
- Avoid legalism. (If you cave-in and eat the bag of Cheetos in your pantry, forgive yourself and begin right where you left-off.)
- Unless you are observing an absolute fast, drinks LOTS of water. (You may want to add some herbal tea or a squeeze of lemon juice to help you through the hunger pains.)
- Be aware of any existing medical conditions, such as diabetes. Consult with your physician before you begin a fast.
- Approach the fast with enthusiasm and joy!
One last thought:
As you may or may not know, Grandparents’ Day of Prayer is rapidly approaching. This year, we are celebrating a Virtual Grandparents’ Day of Prayer on Sunday, September 13th. I plan on observing a partial fast that day by eating only fruits and vegetables in conjunction with my prayers for our grandchildren. If you want to join me in this endeavor, I would love to hear from you!
For more information about joining our 30-Day Prayer Challenge or ways to observe a Virtual Fast, please visit our website… https://christiangrandparenting.com/