How do I pray?
For some, this will be the first time to pray in such a focused and intentional way. It may seem a bit daunting. We suggest by beginning with praying through the Scripture: Matthew 6:9-13. This is a great way to begin to be guided through prayer as you engage in this fast. Also, as we engage in this fast together, the church will provide you with a variety of resources that will coach and guide you through this time.
Download the 14 day prayer and fasting guide
Biblical fasting is refraining from food for a spiritual purpose. Our primary focus in fasting is to fix our eyes on Jesus and to listen to hear the voice and direction of God. It is vitally important for us to pay attention to our motives behind the commitment we’ve made.
“Say to all the people of the land and the priests, ‘When you fasted… was it for me that you fasted?”– Zechariah 7:5
“If our fasting is not unto God, we have failed. Physical benefits, success in prayer, the ending with power, spiritual insights—these must never replace God as the center of our fasting.” – Richard Foster
“First, let [fasting] be done unto the Lord with our eye singly fixed on him. Let our intention herein be this, and this alone, to glorify our Father which is in heaven.” – John Wesley
Fasting helps us to realize the things that control us. Practicing the discipline of fasting allows the Lord the venue to help us bring these areas into alignment. Just as David once wrote, “I afflicted myself with fasting…” in Psalm 35:13, we will be intentional to provide the Lord the venue to instruct us and bring clarity to our lives.
“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. – 1 Corinthians 6:12
“Fasting from any nourishment, activity, involvement or pursuit—for any season—sets the stage for God to appear.” – Dan B. Allender
“We fast because it helps to give us balance in life. It makes us more keenly sensitive to the whole of life so that we’re not so obsessed by our consumer mentality.” – Richard J. Foster
What should I expect when fasting?
The practice of fasting is in stark contrast to most of the ways we live on a day-to-day basis. The Bible mentions fasting over 70 times directly and implies many more. This practice was clearly important to God, as even Jesus engaged in a 40-day fast immediately following His baptism.
HEIGHTENED EMOTIONAL SENSITIVITY
“Anger, bitterness, jealousy, strife, fear—if they are within us, they will surface during fasting. At first, we will rationalize that our anger is due to our hunger; then, we know that we are angry because the spirit of anger is within us. We can rejoice in this knowledge because we know that healing is available through the power of Christ.” – Richard J. Foster
Changing the amount and type of nutrients you intake regularly could possibly affect your energy levels, leading to physical fatigue. Headaches have also been known to be a symptom during fasting.
Although this may seem like an obvious point of awareness, it is important to note you may feel hunger in a way you’ve not experienced before. This will become the primary indicator and reminder for times of prayer and listening during the fast.
How do I prepare?
What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. – Philippians 4:9
1. Prepare your fast (See “How can I participate?”)
- Pick the kind of fast
- Determine how much you plan to fast during the two weeks
2. Consider the ways that we are praying together for our church.
We want to see unity amongst the body of Christ. We are hoping for the fulfillment of vision and purpose for our ALC family.
- We are praying we see many come to know Christ as their redeemer in 2022.
- Pick up or download the Prayer and Fasting Guide.
- Identify some friends and partners to be praying with through this time.
- Prepare your mind.
3. Take some time to consider the real implications of how the fast will affect your regular life rhythms.
Take some time to consider the real implications of how the fast will affect your regular life rhythms. For example, think about how your daily schedule may be altered and have some forethought on how to adjust properly.
4. Ask the Lord to prepare your mind for the challenge in the days ahead.
Ask the Lord to prepare your mind for the challenge in the days ahead.
5. Meditate on scripture and stories.
Meditate on scripture and stories that are a reminder of God’s faithfulness and ability to sustain us, e.g., Psalm 100, Matthew 4:1-4, Matthew 6:25-26.
6. Prepare your heart
Prepare your heart for what God is going to do in your life.
7. Ask God to identify potential areas of difficulty during the 14 days.
Take some time to ask God to identify potential areas of difficulty during the 14 days. Do you see the potential for emotions like anger, anxiety, and fear to rise up during this fast? Are there areas of sin that you are aware of and have not addressed in your life?
8. Spend some time in confession and repentance.
Spend some time in confession and repentance concerning these areas to which the Spirit leads you. As it says in 1 John 1:9, “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Asking yourself difficult and direct questions and answering them in honesty may help you to enter the fast with a posture ready to receive. For example, am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate? Do I pass on what has been said to me in confidence?
9. Ask the Lord to show you any areas of discord or disunity in your life relationally and seek to address them.
Ask the Lord to show you any areas of discord or disunity in your life relationally and seek to address them.
10. Prepare your body.
- Drink plenty of water, maintaining proper hydration and water intake leading up to the beginning of the fast.
- Eat healthier foods (fruits and veggies) directly before the start of the fast to make for an easier transition. Avoid overindulging, as well. When the fast is complete, be mindful of easing back into your regular diet so as not to shock your system.
- If you have potential medical concerns, you should visit your doctor to make sure that you are physically able to participate as you intend. A chronic or severe medical condition, such as diabetes or heart disease may prevent you from fasting in the manner you’d like. You should also consult your doctor if you are pregnant or nursing in order to enter into the fast in the most informed way.
11. Prepare your schedule.
How long you fast, the kind of fast you undertake and how you adjust your schedule depends mostly on the flexibility of your daily life.
12. Take time to pre-plan.
Take time to pre-plan what types of juices, liquids, and supplies you will need while engaged in the fast. If you are planning to drink juices for part or all of the fast then you may prepare for this by purchasing a portable cooler to take to work, ball games, etc. This practice will keep you from being at the mercy of snack and sports drink machines.
13. Think about when you will set aside time to pray and when you will partake in liquids throughout the day.
Think about when you will set aside time to pray and when you will partake in liquids throughout the day.
14. Discuss with family and those in your household about how the upcoming days will look.
Discuss with family and those in your household about how the upcoming days will look.
15. Prepare your response.
- “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” – Matthew 6:16–18
- In hopes to avoid pride and self-appreciation, we don’t want to broadcast our decision to fast. But, when addressed about it directly, we should prepare a thoughtful response, rather than feeling the need to be dishonest or making a bigger issue of it.
- When someone asks why you aren’t eating, consider simple ways to communicate that you are dedicating yourself toward a time of prayer and listening to God. Seek to respond in a simple and straightforward way without belaboring the point.
- Consider beforehand how to graciously communicate with those that may invite you to a meal or gathering when it may conflict with the fast. For example, “As you are preparing for the gathering, please note that my family and I are praying and fasting together in this season, so we may not fully take part in the meal portion of the evening. Thank you for understanding.”
Additional resoures to help you with prayer and fasting.