It really doesn't get any clearer that that, folks. However, it's important to ask the question, "What does fasting do?" or "What is the purpose of fasting?". In a previous sermon series called “Sharpen Your Axe”, Pastor Bill explained that fasting is a physical practice that helps us to move beyond the flesh, and consciously enter into the Holy of Holies where we are aware of God’s presence. In the Old Testament, once a year, one man would enter the Holy of Holies after going through the ritual cleansing process prescribed for the priests. It was so serious that if he had any unconfessed sin, then he'd drop dead. This man would step in to make atonement for the whole nation of Israel. Revelation 1:6 tells us that God has made us (who believe in Jesus) into a Kingdom, and calls us priests to our God. Before Jesus, there was a veil separating the common people from the presence of a Holy God. When Jesus died, the veil ripped from top to bottom and because of the Blood of Jesus we were given access to the Holy of Holies (Matthew 27:50-51).
We were made to exist in the presence of God! From the beginning, we were not created for sin; we were created for fellowship with Him in His presence. However, even though the veil has been torn away, there are many times we do not fully sense His presence. Fasting is a way for us to more fully enter into an awareness of Him once again. Not only does it give us more of Him, it's also a way that we can give Him more of ourselves. Essentially, we are choosing to empty ourselves of food in order to give Him more space in which to pour.
Here's a few tips to consider before starting your fast:
- Because fasting is choosing to go without food, it's a good idea to chat with your healthcare provider if you have any health concerns or you've ever dealt with an eating disorder.
- Decide the length of your fast before you begin. As a church we are setting a time frame of 21 days. In the 21 days you may fast one meal a day, one full day, three days, seven days, or the entire 21, etc. There is no set formula. This is a time for you to press in to the Presence of the Lord! Commit yourself to a length of time and decide what you're fasting before you begin. This way, when the hunger pangs, sugar cravings and your feelings kick in, you already have your decision made.
- Allow the hunger to drive you to focus on the Lord. When you get a craving or have a grumbling stomach, use it as a reminder to pray and get your strength to press on from Him! Take it one moment and one prayer at a time.
- More basics!
We come into this fast with great expectation that God will meet each one of us individually and COTR as a whole. We do not know how He will move or whether He will speak, but we do know that our relationship with the Creator will deepen as we set aside time to just BE with Him. For these 21 days, we're physically showing our thanks to Jesus for tearing that veil by laying aside our own agendas and entering in to the Holy of Holies, because He made a way for us.
Stay tuned for more posts as we walk out the next 21 days!