Starting January 6th, the community of Life Center will take time to pray and fast collectively for the year ahead. This has become a yearly rhythm and spiritual discipline for us.
Here are five reasons why we do this, and why I think you should be a part:
Jesus said His followers would fast. Multiple times in the Gospels as Jesus was teaching He would tell His disciples, “When you fast…” He expected that it would be a rhythm in their lives. The key to remember is PRAYER. Without prayer, fasting is just a hunger strike. We don’t fast to try and manipulate God, trying to convince Him to give us something. We fast to be closer to Him – setting aside distractions and disciplining our appetites to learn to hunger and thirst for Him.
This is an important practice for Jesus followers since the early church. Throughout the centuries, followers of Jesus have spent dedicated time in prayer and fasting. It has been a common “spiritual discipline” or practice that cultivates something important in our lives with Jesus.
It reminds our appetites that they are not in control. All of us have cravings and comforts that we look to in life. As followers of Jesus, we know that He is our true source and our only true comfort. Fasting positions our hearts and our bodies to understand this.
It creates focus in a distracted world. Fasting creates moments and opportunities to focus on Jesus, asking Him for strength and grace to find all that we need in Him. It is no surprise that we live in a distracted world. All day every day, things are calling for our attention. Because of this it is easy to get distracted out of intentional discipleship. Fasting helps to break the distractions and get our eyes focused on Jesus.
It sets the spiritual focus for the year. There is something important about what we do first. It sets the tone. It builds expectation and focus. That is why we take time in January to pray and fast. We want Jesus to lead us in the year ahead.
A few important details to remember…
The transformation happens because we pray, not because we give something up. We give things up through fasting to remove distractions, discipline our appetites and make more time for prayer.
Pray about what God wants you to fast from, then take that step of faith. For some, you might want to fast Netflix, negativity, social media, non-essential technology, coffee, sweets, TV, the news, video games or something else that would create an opportunity to add some more discipline in your life.
Use wisdom. If you decide to fast a meal, a day or multiple days, be sure to drink a lot of water and check with your doctor – especially if you have any medical conditions. There are different types of food fasts including what is called a “Daniel Fast” (taken from the book of Daniel), where he set aside time to pray and not eat specific things that were a common part of the diet.
It is personal – a step that you are taking to further develop your journey with Jesus. This is important because it is easy to compare what you are doing with what someone else might be doing throughout these 21 Days. Remember, this isn’t about legalism – it is a response of love and devotion. Don’t measure what Jesus put in your heart to do by what someone else is doing. (2 Cor. 10:12)
Our team has put together a resource to help you on this 21 Day journey. It includes some daily scripture and ideas, a prayer focus and a place to journal. In addition to this, you will find some added prayer resources to help further grow and develop your prayer life. You can download this prayer guide below.