INTO THE WILDERNESS:
21 DAYS OF PURSUIT
As a church, we are spending the weeks leading up to Easter with our series Into the Wilderness - where we are looking at Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness and the temptations he faced while there.
For 21 days during this series, we will be engaging in a church-wide season of prayer fasting and encourage you to participate in some way. Whether this is your first time fasting, or fasting is a consistent spiritual practice in your life, we want to support you. Our team has written a 21-day devotional that will help you to focus your time prayer and fasting personally, yet also allow us as a church to be praying into the same things as we fast together!
Throughout church history, every great move of God has been birthed in prayer. Jesus himself said that there are some things that can only be accomplished by prayer and fasting (Mark 9:29, Matthew 17:21). If we want to see God move powerfully in our lives, church, and city, prayer and fasting is the place to start.
To participate, simply sign up to be a part of 21 days of pursuit. Every day you will receive a devotional and prayer focuses to your inbox. You can also follow us on Instagram at @indiancreekcc. Join in as we pursue God together.
WHAT IS FASTING?
A fast is an act of self-denial in order to intentionally turn our hearts toward God in prayer. As we fast, we intentionally let go of an appetite (whether that is food or drink, media, or other conveniences), allowing these voids in our lives to remind us to turn to Jesus who alone can satisfy. Any time we get hungry, or want to watch TV or scroll through social media (whatever you are fasting), it is a prompt to turn our attention to God in prayer.
There are numerous references to fasting in both the Old and New Testament scriptures. Jesus himself began his ministry with 40 days of fasting in the desert. Jesus may not have directly commanded his followers to fast, but he simply assumed that we would do so! Jesus said these words:
“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrite do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting…But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:16
Jesus wanted our fasting to become less about keeping up appearances and looking good in front of others, and much more about aligning our heart with God in deeper ways to worship God with every part of our lives.
PURPOSE OF FASTING
Fasting must center on God. Fasting is first and foremost a discipline that connects us to the heart of God. Any other benefits we may receive as a result of our fasting, whether physical or spiritual, should never replace our motive to simply glorify God through our worship with fasting.
Fasting reveals what control us. Our tendency is to cover up our shadows with food or other good things as a way of masking our sinful nature. For those with a sincere desire to become more like Christ, fasting reveals those hidden things such as anger, jealously, envy, pride that may reside in our hearts, and forces us to come face to face with them.
Fasting reminds us that we are sustained. Jesus told his disciples, “I have food to eat of which you do not know… my food is the will of the one who sent me“ (John 4:32,34). Jesus knew that food alone does not sustain us, nor does other good things, but only the World of God. Therefore, when we fast, we are not so much abstaining from food, as we are feasting on the word of God.
Fasting helps keep our balance in life. We can easily become enslaved to the things we crave. Fasting helps put priorities back in order and to identify where nonessential things have become overly important. As Paul writes, “All things are lawful for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything.” (1 Cor. 6:12)
Biblical fasting is NOT a way to manipulate God or to gain spiritual brownie-points, nor is it a hunger strike (attention or power seeking), nor for physical benefits (vanity). Biblical fasting always centers on spiritual purposes.
TYPES OF FASTS
Partial Fast- A partial fast generally refers to omitting a specific meal from your diet or refraining from certain types of foods.
Examples: Replacing every lunch meal with prayer time, observing a Daniel Fast, omitting sweet food or drinks.
Regular Fast -A regular fast refers to abstaining from all food over the course of a day or days. Be cautious when starting a fast lasting multiple days.*
Examples: Abstaining from all food for entire 21 day fast.
Focused Fast- A focused fast encourages omitting certain things that enslave, control, or distract you from quality time with Jesus.
Examples: Abstaining from social media, watching TV, or shopping.
What to do in the time set apart for fasting:
- Bring your Bible and maybe a glass of water.
- Relax and breathe deeply. Slow down enough to recognize that you are in the presence of God.
- Offer yourself to God with a simple prayer such as “Speak, Lord for your servant is listening.” Or simply say, “Here I am.”
- Spend time worshipping God for his faithfulness. Praise him for where he has come through for you.
- Bring your desires to God and ask God for what you need. Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Pray for your family, friends, church, city, nation, world, and those who are far from Jesus.
- Be still and listen. Record in a journal what God is speaking to you.
*Special note for those fasting from food:
- Do not fast when you are sick, pregnant or nursing, or if you have diabetes, cancer, or other disease. Consult your doctor before beginning a fast if you are concerned.
- If you are new to fasting, start by fasting only one meal per day before attempting longer periods of fasting.
- Encourage children of appropriate age to fast a single type of food (like sweets) rather than full meals or full days.
- Don’t break a fast with a huge meal. Eat small portions of healthy food.