(For my Prayer & Fasting Students)
Here are some things I want to share with you.
- Following New Testament scholar Scot McKnight, I am viewing fasting as something God initiates, usually in response to what McKnight calls a "grievous sacred moment." This in happens as God "sets apart" some person or situation and highlights it in our heart. The word "grievous" indicates the level of concern. Such a moment feels like a burden for something or something that is in peril, or in need. For example, I once felt led to fast while my son Dan was on a mission trip. In Scripture persons are led to pray, for example, for the nation of Israel which is, at the time, in jeopardy.
- In a God-led fast we deny ourselves food for a period of time, so as to pray, seek God, and bring this grievous sacred moment before Him. Biblical fasts normally lasted for half a day or a day.
- My encouragement to you is to: take these one hour times of prayer for the sake of being with God, to meet with God. To take these times of prayer is a main way of abiding in Christ. A.S.L.O. In the Listening part ('L'), God may place a burden on you and call you to fast before Him on behalf of that particular burden.
- Biblical fasting is a form of self-denial. Jesus instructed His followers to deny themselves daily, take up their cross, and follow after Him. (Luke 9:23) In fasting we set aside the normal good of food for the sake of focusing on God more completely. During the time of fasting food is not a distraction to us. The feeling of hunger may be. When I have fasted and felt hunger for food, I have used this feeling as a signal to pray for that which God called me to fast and pray for.
- Another way of fasting is: fast as one of the spiritual disciplines, out of the calling of God to do so. At our recent Green Lake conference J.P. Moreland taught us about this. Many have written about this kind of fasting, the object of which is simply God's call to fast, with no specific grievous sacred moment in mind. Throughout Christian history Jesus-followers have built fasting into their lives, in the same way they built prayer and worship into their lives.
- Finally, we will meet again on Tuesday evening, July 17, 7 PM. To my online students: I will send you the audio recording of our teaching. We’ll share, I’ll do some Q&A, and Josh Bentley will teach on prayer and fasting.
P.S. - McKnight's book Fasting: The Ancient Practices is only $5.20 at amazon.