As we launch into 2023, the leadership of Grace Fellowship has decided to focus on a season of prayer & fasting for "Global Missions". As Matthew 4:19 reminds us, a disciple of Jesus knows Jesus, is being changed by Jesus and is on mission with Jesus. Creating a culture of disciple making calls us to be aware of and participate in God reaching the nations. During this 21 days of prayer and fasting, we want to come together as a unified worshipping community and consider two questions:
- In what ways do I need to be more aware of the what God is doing around the world to take the gospel to the ends of the earth?
- How can I participate in what God is doing in global missions this year?
The information below will help you as you pray and fast on these questions for the month of January.
Which Fast is for You
Below you will find four ways to participate in seasons of prayer and fasting. Regardless of your experience with prayer and fasting, we believe each person can participate and experience new depths of intimacy with God. For the purposes of the season before Easter, we are inviting you to join us in what is described here as a soul fast.
A. SOUL FAST
One option is to choose to fast from things other than food. Some people will give up television, social media, or other activities for a soul fast to focus on prayer. Each of these fasts can be a valuable way of connecting with God more deeply.
B. PARTIAL FAST
A partial fast is when you give up only certain foods during the course of your fast. This fast is seen most clearly in Daniel 1, where Daniel abstains from certain foods out of devotion to God for a period of time. During a partial fast, some people choose to give up certain foods they enjoy in an effort to turn their hearts more deeply toward God.
C. MINOR FAST
In a minor fast, you choose to abstain from food for a certain period of time (i.e., 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. or sunup to sundown). This fast is sometimes called a “Jewish fast,” and it can last for days at a time, eating only at a set time of the day. In a minor fast, most people will drink liquids during the day and have one small meal after sundown each evening.
D. MAJOR FAST
A major fast is when you abstain from food or drink for twenty-four consecutive hours or more. A major fast requires a certain level of physical health, and it is recommended that you check with your doctor if you’re doing a major fast that lasts more than a few days in a row. Some examples from Scripture of a major fast can be found in Matthew 4:2, Acts 9:9, and Esther 4:15-16, just to name a few.
How to Participate
Before a season of prayer and denial begins, here’s a few tips to remember before, during and after this journey.
Prepare Your Mind – Begin to ask the Lord to prepare you mentally for the journey you are about to take and what He would ask you to give up before Easter. Fasting is as much mental as it is physical.
Prepare Your Heart – Fasting is about our commitment to the Lord. Before this period begins, spend extra time asking God to forgive you of your sins, making sure you are in good standing with others and for God to purify your motives.
Prepare Your Community – Prepare your family or friends. Fasting is about abstaining from food or things, not people. Let those closest to you in on what you are doing so it doesn’t disrupt their lives. If you have kids, let them know ahead of time what you are doing and why. Help others to see fasting as a blessing from God and not a burden.
Prepare Your Plan – Make a plan for what you are going to do(or not do), how you hope to achieve it & how you will stick to it.
- Put yourself on a schedule. Keeping similar life patterns creates a habit for sustainability.
- Share the blessings and burdens of fasting in a small (so pride will not creep in)
community. This helps you through the tough times and allows you to enjoy the blessing
that comes from a deeper pursuit of God.
- Expect difficulties. Our enemy does not like us focusing on our relationship with God.
Fight this spiritual battle by meditating on or praying through Ephesians 6:10-17.
- Expect and take note of what God is teaching you during this time.
- Expect physical or mental discomfort and even discouragement.
- Take note of what God did in you personally. Review any spiritual insights you gained
during this time and thank Him.
- Give yourself grace for any failures or setbacks you experienced in trying to fast.
- Ask God what spiritual practice you need to continue and for His power to help you.
- Share these blessings with others and pray for help in continuing to grow in your
relationship with God.
What a Day of Prayer and Fasting May Look Like
Suggestions for Morning
- Begin your day with a worship song
- Read verses from the bible or our Daily Prayer Guide
- Invite the Holy Spirit to search your heart and life
- Ask God to give you vision, wisdom and power for your life.
Suggestions for Midday
- Return to God in prayer and Scripture
- Take a short prayer walk
- Spend a few minutes in silence reflecting on God’s goodness
- Meet with others who are praying to encourage one another
Suggestions for Evening
- Relax in unhurried time with God without pressures of work, school or family
- Talk with others who are setting aside this season for encouragement
- Avoid or limit outside distractions like TV or social media
- Spend time with friends, spouse or family in prayer.
We realize an extended season of spiritual focus, fasting, etc. are new thoughts for some and many do not have a background or much experience with these ideas. As you read through the information below, let God’s goodness and grace provided through the Cross cover you as you consider how to be involved. Choose a next step that’s best for you and your family based on where you are spiritually and not on anyone else’s expectations. So with whatever successes, challenges or doubts you face during these seasons of prayer and self-denial, give yourself and others much grace. We all need it.
- Tips for Families During Seasons of Prayer & Fasting
- Frequent Questions about Seasons of Prayer & Fasting
Fasting Starter Kit:
Revival Starts Here by Dave Clayton
Hunger For God by John Piper
The Essential Guide to Fasting: What It Is, How to Do It, and Why It Matters by Elmer Towns
Fasting, The Ancient Practices Series by Scot McKnight
*Much of this material came from Revival Starts Here by Dave Clayton & CRU.org.