Well, this weekend our church is joining for a twenty four hour prayer and fasting time (although as I mentioned with the time change...it's only 23 hours:-). We have almost 150 signed up and we'll meet in the auditorium at 9:00 a.m. for a half hour to kick it all off. Many have wondered outloud about fasting. Here are some of the questions and my responses. Even if you didn't sign up, you can still join us...just show up!
1. why fast?
Fasting in the Bible is done for many reasons, but in my mind they narrow down to three main things: repentance (telling God you're sorry for a specific sin and denying physical pleasure as you do), seeking God's guidance (focusing on the spiritual instead of physical), and simply to intensify your awareness of your spiritual nature (don't live on bread, but by every word from God). J.K. recommends the following examples for reading : Deut. 9:9, Ezra 10:6, Esther 4:16, Daniel 1:12, Matthew 6:16-18, Acts 13:2.
2. what if I can't medically go without food?
That's cool, although fasting in the Bible has to do with food and drink (although sex is also mentioned - see I Corinthians 7:1-3), you can deny yourself any pleasure or convenience in order to focus on the spiritual part of your being. You can give up t.v. for a day or evening (good suggestion, you'd be surprised how much time you spend watching t.v.). You can give up coffee, or your favorite beverage. You can give up red meat or something else. You can give up the computer (or video games, or movies). You can give up texting, iphone, etc... Literally anything you can sacrifice in order to focus on God.
3. what happens when you fast?
Well, it's not a formula, so often you just pray a lot and are hungry. But most of the times I fast, I sense a heightened awareness of God's presence (not because He is more present, but because I am more present to Him...less distracted). Also, if you fast for three or four days, you get a real clarity in your praying that isn't often present normally. Fasting does not make you more spiritual, but it is a practical way of denying yourself and focusing on God.
4. why pray as a church?
Because, when the community of faith seeks God's face in the same direction, he will often move us all in the same direction by His spirit of unity. We will ask him to help us grow in our faith, open up our eyes to see those whom we can love, and for direction in world-wide evangelism.
the bottom line is just try it and see what God does. We know Jesus fasted and prayed, and so did the early church along with men and women of God all throughout history. So they must know something. Don't worry about it. Don't overthink it. Just do it.