Mick’s CV Memo – Fasting and Prayer

Before the Corona Virus pandemic struck us, the elders, Steve Case and I, prompted by Bill Hatch, had discussed asking the CCC congregation to join in a time of fasting and prayer for 40 days, seeking God for His guidance and intervention in our succession planning and search process. Before we were able to initiate it, the pandemic struck.  While some unknowns have been added to the process, we are continuing our consulting process with The Center, and we are still seeking God’s direction and provision as we plan for future leadership here at CCC.  This past weekend, Bill made an appeal for families and individuals to sign up for a day of fasting and prayer for God’s guidance for our planning but also for God’s intervention in the pandemic through healing, prevention and spiritual awakening.  If you would like to participate in this, please contact Rochelle (rbeagle@crossroadscny.org) and she will let you know of days that have not been filled.

You might be asking some questions.  What is fasting all about?  How should I fast and for how long?  Why should I restrain myself from food? 

Let’s take the last question first.  Why should we fast?  In the Old Testament times, leaders called for “fasting, sackcloth and ashes” when confronted by prophets calling for repentance. These outward actions were non-verbal prayers conveying a change of heart inwardly; aligning themselves with God and communicating their desire to follow Him going forward.  Daniel and his 3 fellow captives practiced a “partial fast” when they refused all but vegetables and water to show their dependence on God and desire to remain obedient to the dietary aspects of the Mosaic Law rather than eat meat that would not have been prepared properly in Babylon.

In the New Testament, Jesus fasted for forty days before being tempted by the Evil One. This suggests to me that fasting prepared Him to focus on God and His truth while facing deception. He implied the practice when he cast a demon from a child that His disciples were unable to help, telling them that such actions only came about through “fasting and prayer”.  He gave corrective guidance for fasting as a spiritual discipline spoken in a way that presumed godly people would practice fasting.  He told them “when you fast” (Matt. 6:16) to make sure you don’t do it for display to others; do it for God alone. 

In the book of Acts we find the church “worshipping, praying and fasting” when the Holy Spirit directs them to set apart Barnabas and Saul for missionary work (Acts 13:2-3). Later we find that fasting and prayer were part of their process for appointing leaders in the churches they had planted (Acts 14:19-23).

Fasting intensifies our communication with God.  We physically feel the kind of hunger that should characterize our hunger for God and His involvement in critical life situations.  Every time our stomach growls we are reminded to pray about a particular issue over which we are fasting and praying—for healing of someone; for guidance in a particular situaion; for salvation of those without Jesus in our families, community, nation and the world; for wisdom needed for leaders of our country, our communities and the body of Christ.  It is not about trying to make God care or act.  God is compassionate and is always at work for good.  It is intended to align our passion with God’s seeking to know and do His will.

Now let’s look at the “how” question.  The length is up to you.  As mentioned previously, Jesus fasted forty days.  Moses was on the mountain with God for forty days.  If you were to fast for any more than a day, I would recommend consulting with your doctor if you have any extenuating medical conditions (diabetes, migraines, immune deficiencies or digestive disorders).  We are asking folks to fast on a specific day so that as a community we will have someone fasting each of the forty days.  Specifics are between the individual and God.  You might fast during daylight hours, for a meal, or for a full 24-hour period.  The how is less important than the purpose—to seek God on behalf of the specific cause or causes that lead you to pray and fast.

As you pray, there are many ways to enrich your connection with God.  Reading Scripture and praying through the truths you see. Read Psalm 27 about overcoming fear.  Read Psalm 119 (a long one!) about the benefits and power of God’s truth.  Read John 17 and Jesus’ prayer for His followers just before He died for us. Prepare a list of people in need of healing, in need of encouragement, in danger due to the virus, in positions of authority needing God’s guidance, for the finances of those who have been laid off or whose businesses have been affected.  Pray for our church family and our ability to serve people remotely.  Listen to or watch an inspiring worship song and sing along with it. If you don’t like singing, look for lyrics to read and think about.  Search online resources for an inspiring message from some of God’s great messengers like Ravi Zacharias, Tim Keller, Max Lucado or others who inspire you. If you practice writing in a journal, go back and read past entries and look for things to thank God for and things you may have forgotten that you may want to pray about.  Remember you’re not “isolating”, you are spending time with our Creator and Savior—take pleasure in the privilege we have in having access to our Holy God because of Jesus’ sacrifice for us.

Fasting is a faith exercise between you and God as Jesus taught in Matthew 6. He warned against fasting being a means of self-promotion. However, I don’t think it violates His guidance to express your praise for God in this experience if you choose to share how He has blessed you.

I believe God is at work, renewing and refocusing us for greater effectiveness in building His kingdom in us and through us.  Please feel free to email, text or call me or other staff members with questions or just a need to talk.  We are here for you.

With you in Jesus,

Mick