“Draw near to God and he will draw near to you”. – James 4:8
As we enter into our 21 Day Fast some of us might see this as a useful opportunity to shed some of the excess pounds that we invariably put on over the Christmas season, however, the true purpose of the fast is to focus on our relationship with God. Fasting is designed to draw us closer to God as we spend time engaging with Him, seeking His will, plan and purpose for us, both as a church and individually, for the New Year.
It might surprise you to know that there are some seventy-seven biblical references to fasting. Despite this, fasting is often ill-understood and so often fails to produce its desired results. In Isaiah 58, the people also asked God why their prayers and fasting were not producing results, and they even end up asking God if He sees what they are doing! In response, God shows them that the reason is that their motives were wrong. They were looking for their fast to change God, but the true purpose of the fast is to produce a change in us, so in Isaiah 58 God outlines His principles for a fast.
Ultimately fasting is about our relationship with God, our motive being for His glory, with an acceptable fast being one that He has chosen. It is one which is set apart for Him, where we minister to Him, honour and glorify Him, and seek His will. Fasting and prayer calls us away from other activities and causes us to put God first, and such a fast rebounds in blessings on us, for God who sees in secret is pleased to reward us openly.
Types of Fast
The kind of fast that you choose is your decision. It could be a normal fast, a complete or absolute fast or a partial fast, and is often coupled with abstaining from TV or social media for a season. Whatever fast you decide to observe, it is important that you spend time in prayer, meditation and Bible study. A good idea during your fast is to keep a prayer journal to write down what God has been speaking to you, what you prayed for, and record answers to prayer. Some ideas for fasting:
1. Full fast (water only) – make sure to walk a doctor along with you to ensure you stay physically healthy!
2. Partial Fast (one meal a day)
3. Daniel fast (vegetables, fruits, grains)
4. Combination of all 3 at different times of the week.
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– Dr Dermot Murphy