Friday, April 23, 2010

411 on Fasting

Fasting is to abstain from all food or from certain “choice” foods for a period of time. It literally means to have firm control of oneself. Fasting can be a physical cleansing of the body, and it can be a spiritual cleansing of the soul. It was used in both the Old Testament and the New Testament as a way of drawing near to God.
Nehemiah 9:1-3 says, “On the twenty-fourth day of the same month, the Israelites gathered together, fasting and wearing sackcloth and having dust on their heads. Those of Israelite descent had separated themselves from all foreigners. They stood in their places and confessed their sins and the wickedness of their fathers. They stood where they were and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day, and spent another quarter in confession and in worshiping the LORD their God. “
The Israelites did this as a nation. They wanted to turn their hearts back to God. They realized that they had sinned for many years and they wanted a new start, united together, turning toward God and asking for His help and favor.
Our fast this week is similar. We want to unite as a group. We want to turn our hearts toward God. We want to ask for His help and favor for our missions trips this summer. And we also want to understand what it means to be hungry.
The Israelites did four things: separated themselves out, confessed their sins, studied God’s word and worshipped their God. Jesus told us that fasting is not about getting attention for ourselves, but about our relationship to the Father.
As you begin your fast, find a time today to be alone with God. Take your Bible, paper, and pen to a quiet place. To get your mind and heart into a humble position, I recommend getting your body into one too. Flat on your face on the floor works pretty good. Seriously!
Begin your time by asking God to show you any areas in your life that are not pleasing to Him. Stop and listen. When God brings things to your mind, confess them—agree with Him. Stop and listen some more.
Next spend some time worshipping God. Recognize how awesome He is—tell Him. Think about the qualities of God, His faithfulness, His kindness—tell Him. Consider the things that God has done, remember things He’s done for you—thank Him.
Listen some more. Ask Him to talk to you about serving others at Mission Denver and on our summer missions trips. Listen. If any scriptures come to mind write them down and look them up. What is God saying to you? Write down things He brings to mind.

Read Matthew 6:1-18
What is Jesus saying and why?
What does it mean to you?
How can you apply it to your life today?