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A biblical fast can be defined as simply abstaining from food for spiritual purposes. In Bible times, meals and food preparation took a lot more time, and physical and mental energy, than we generally spend on it today. There were no grocery stores and no drive-thrus. Yet, it was encouraged and expected by Jesus that believers would fast (Matt. 6:17-18, Matt. 9:15), taking the time and energy spent for food preparation and consumption and spending it instead on seeking God. For many Christians, fasting in our current culture can mean abstinence from food, as well as from television and other forms of entertainment, and spending the time normally given to those things to instead draw closer to God. What makes this time of fasting rich is using the time to pray, read the Bible, and worship God.
Scripturally and historically, our Judeo/Christian forbearers have given us examples of different kinds of fasts, which can be grouped into 3 (three) broad categories from a dietary perspective. We urge you to consult with your doctor if you are doing any dietary fast. It is important to note that neither Jesus nor His apostles gave us any specific rules or requirements for fasting. “It was a personal matter between the disciple and his Master, in the light of needs and circumstances.” This is for informational purposes only and is not meant to prescribe any fasting requirement.
- The “normal fast”: abstaining from all forms of food, but not from water. This is usually for short periods of time (1-3 days), except when Jesus was in the wilderness prior to His temptation by the devil (see Matthew 4 & Luke 4).
- The “absolute fast”: abstaining from drinking as well as eating. This type of fast is rare, done only for short periods of time, and is not what we recommend.
- The “partial fast”: This is more of a restriction of food, or certain types of food, rather than abstinence. In this category, you will find examples such as:
The Daniel Fast: Based on Daniel 1 and 10, eliminates meat, “choice foods” and alcohol, and drinks only water.
Juice only fasts: this is what it sounds like. No solid foods, only juices and water to drink.
Meal fast: Omitting a certain meal each day, and spending that hour with God.
Intermittent Fast: practiced by many for dietary health reasons, entails restricting eating for the day in one block of time, for instance 4-8pm, while abstaining from food for the remaining hours of the day.
The Wesley Fast: For a portion of John Wesley's ministry, he advocated fasting one or two days per week, as one was led by the Holy Spirit.
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Scripture: Matthew 6:16-24
Prayer: Ask God to reveal your heart’s treasure. Ask God to shine His light in and through you, and help you serve God above all else.
Scripture: Matthew 6: 25-33, James 5:13-20
Prayer: Consider the things you spend your time and energy worrying about. Confess this to God. Ask God to help you seek God’s kingdom and righteousness above all else and trust Him to take care of all your worries. Let us also pray for one another.
Scripture: Matthew 7:1-6
Prayer: Ask God to reveal the ways you judge others today as you go about your day. Ask God to remind you to view others with and offer to them the same grace, mercy and forgiveness that you desire from God.
Scripture: Joel 2:12-17, Matthew 5:3-10
Prayer: Ask God to move on the hearts of the people of our church. Pray that our time of prayer and fasting is not just a physical exercise, but that the Holy Spirit touches us in our spirits and draws us closer to God, giving us a hunger and thirst for Him.
Scripture: Matthew 7:7-14
Prayer: Pray that Forest Hills Church, as the local body of Christ, will know and do God’s will. Ask God to impress clearly upon the hearts and minds of the congregational leaders what God would have our church do.
Scripture: Matthew 7:15-27
Prayer: Ask God for discernment, for yourself as well as for church leadership. Pray that we would plainly see the truth and would bear “good fruit”. Ask God to give our church Godly wisdom, and to live the teachings of Christ, so that what is built through the ministry of Forest Hills will stand against any storms that come.
Scripture: Isaiah 55
Prayer: Ask God to tune your ear to hear His voice. Spend time just listening to what God may be saying to you today.
Scripture: Isaiah 58
Prayer: Ask God to open your eyes to the needs of those around you that He has enabled you to address. Is there further opportunity for ministry through the church? Pray about the ministries of the church.
Scripture: Luke 4:14-21, Ephesians 6:10-18
Prayer: Continue to pray for the ministries of Forest Hills Church. Ask God how He wants you to be involved in spreading God’s kingdom. Pray for God’s protection for each member of our congregation and their families.
Scripture: Luke 15
Prayer: Pray for the “lost sheep” and the “prodigal” children who have wandered away from the Lord. Pray for God’s prevenient grace to draw them back “into the fold.” Pray that Forest Hills would be a church that welcomes “sinners who gather to hear (about) Jesus” and that we would not put stumbling blocks of our own attitudes in their way.
Scripture: John 15
Prayer: Pray that we, as individuals and as a church, remain vitally connected to Jesus and that we “bear much fruit.” Pray that we remain faithful during this and any pruning processes. Pray that we continue to love one another.
Scripture: Acts 1
Prayer: Pray that the decisions we make as a church are guided by the Holy Spirit. Pray that God prepares us, as we wait, for the next step of our ministry.
Scripture: Acts 2
Prayer: Pray for the Holy Spirit to fill us, empower us, and lead us into the ministries God would have us do.
Scripture: Acts 11
Prayer: Pray for God to guide Forest Hills as we make a decision regarding denominational affiliation. Pray that all connections we make are God-ordained and directed and result in the further spread of God’s kingdom.
Scripture: Romans 8
Prayer: Thank God for setting you free from the condemnation through Christ Jesus. Thank God for empowering you through the Holy Spirit to have a mind governed by the Spirit of life and peace.
Scripture: Romans 12
Prayer: Continually offer yourself, your whole being, to God as a living sacrifice, living a life transformed by His Spirit. Ask God to show you today how to live ‘Love in Action.”
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 3
Prayer: Pray that God’s Holy Spirit lives in and through us, each as individuals and as a corporate body. Pray for God’s Spirit to continually guide us.
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12
Prayer: Pray that each member of our congregation is filled with the Holy Spirit, begins or continues to grow in the gifts God has given them. Pray that we all, using these gifts individually, function as Christ’s body and accomplish God’s will.
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13
Prayer: Pray that we truly love others, not just in word, but in action. Thank God for answered prayers, for moving in hearts and lives of God’s people, and for providing His love and guidance to Forest Hills, and for bringing us all together here in worship and service to God and in love and service to people.