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As we mentioned in our online service this Sunday, we are inviting you to participate with us in fasting from food for two days - on Good Friday and Holy Saturday - as a way for us to enter into the anticipation of the resurrection, as well as to commemorate and empathise with the pain and suffering Jesus went through on the cross. Again, we believe that there is significance in this practice - not to be legalistic, because this is voluntary, but to increase our focus on Jesus and his sacrifice in a way that costs something for us.

Our FLAG initiative this season has been, “Fast to Focus” - and this fasting has been from anything in your life that distracts you or takes up time in your day so that you can take that time and focus it on Christ, on SEEKING GOD. And for this 2 day fast, we urge you to do the same. In the time it takes to prepare food, deciding what to make, getting ingredients, cooking meals and eating them - as well as the clean up - this time can be turned and devoted towards focusing on God. And it isn't only time that makes this practice significant - how we use the time also does. The purpose is not to instead fill time with hours of tv or an escapist activity, but instead to engage in other spiritual practices like meditation, Scripture reading, prayer, gratitude, silence & solitude.

As we explore some spiritual reasons for fasting, I want to clarify that fasting is NOT to impress God or earn His acceptance - we believe that we are made acceptable to God through the work of Jesus Christ, not our work. However, fasting is a spiritual practice that gives us the opportunity to seek God in a more intentional way. Below are a few ways for us to bring intentionality to our time of fasting: 

  • We fast to devote our entire selves: body, mind, heart and soul, into pursuit of God. To starve the flesh so that we hunger for God. To seek after God. To strengthen our prayer - not because we believe that God can be manipulated or that fasting is a formula to get what we want from God, but because we believe that when we put ourselves in a position to seek God with ALL that we are, that He responds. We have that assurance from Scripture, that when we seek God he will be found!

  • We fast as an expression of repentance, of grief over sin - we see this done in the Bible time after time! When the weight of sin was too overwhelming to express with words, God’s people Israel would express it with their entire bodies. To call on God as an act of repentance, to pray for mercy - calling on his steadfast love and compassion to change his mind and spare them. Arthur Wallis wrote, that “man’s change of heart makes it morally possible for God to behave differently toward him.” God “changes his mind” when we change. Fasting can be, for us, a way in which we repent beyond just saying we’re sorry to God in our minds then moving on - in humbling ourselves this way, it allows us to express our repentance in with a sincerity that we often struggle to reach through simply our words or thoughts.

  • We also fast to grieve, or to process grief. This can be an act of worship - instead of numbing our pain or ranting on Facebook or Instagram about all that’s wrong with the world or in our lives, we can fast and pray in order to process our grief with God. When we come with this intention, we are participating fully in our grief instead of pushing it to the side.

  • We fast to cry out to God in crisis. To seek help from the Lord when we stand no chance without Him. We see an example of this in Esther when she calls for all the Jews to fast and to pray for three days before she approaches the king - to pray for a miracle in a hopeless situation, one that would certainly result in her death and subsequently the death of the Jewish race. We see another example in 2 Chronicles, when King Jehosaphat is told that a vast army of three nations surrounded him. He called the nation to fast and to pray, and the nation came together to seek help from the Lord. In his prayer, Jehosaphat calls on God’s past faithfulness and on his character, and the Lord responds in v. 17: “You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.” This is not an exhaustive list, but rather a few spiritual reasons for fasting to consider as you fast.

To explore this topic further, I would encourage you to spend time looking at some of the resources provided below. There are articles for a shorter read, a sermon series, and a few books as well!

In addition, here are some practical considerations:

  • Do not eat a large meal the night before
  • Devote time and make a plan to pray or engage in spiritual practices. 
  • Limit your activity - exercise only moderately.
  • Prepare yourself for discomfort - physical, mental, spiritual. 

Note: if you have any existing medical concerns or conditions, please consult your physician first or simply abstain from participating in this practice. If you struggle with an eating disorder, please talk to your counsellor or with a health care professional before considering this. If you are under 18 years of age, discuss your desire to fast with your parents. This fast is not advised for young children,pregnant women, or those who have low iron or a related health condition.

RESOURCES

“Fasting for Beginners” https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/fasting-for-beginners“

"How to do a Biblical Fast” https://www.cru.org/us/en/train-and-grow/spiritual-growth/fasting/how-to-do-a-biblical-fast.html

“Fasting” Sermon Series: https://bridgetown.church/series/fasting/

“Fasting & the Relationship to Food & Body Image" Podcasthttps://bridgetown.church/teaching/fasting/fasting-our-lasting-relationship-to-food-body-and-image/

“God's Chosen Fast: A Spiritual and Practical Guide to Fasting” by Arthur Wallis

“Fasting” by Scott McKnight