21 Days of Prayer and F(e)asting
Fasting has become a much forgotten practice in the church today, seen by many as a religious ritual best left to Old Testament times. And yet, when we turn the to the New Testament, not only do we find our Savior fasting, we also see him speaking to his disciples with words that clearly convey the expectation that they too will engage in this spiritual discipline.
In Matthew 9:15-17, when a group comes to Jesus questioning why the Pharisees fast and the disciples of John the Baptist fast, but his disciples are not fasting, Jesus responds by saying, “The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, so both are preserved.” Translation: There will come a time when Jesus’ disciples will fast, but this old practice will be carried out with a renewed purpose. What had deteriorated into an empty ritual, performed with an eye toward manipulating God or impressing people, would be restored to its original intent – a gracious means of experiencing the power and the presence of God more fully.
God did not design fasting as a burden to be borne or a rule to be followed in an attempt to earn divine favor; rather, the intent was that in denying ourselves that which usually satisfies our appetites, we might turn instead to God – expressing our dependence on him, our desire for him, and our delight in him. In fasting, we deny physical food to the body that we might obtain spiritual food for the soul. It is a way to proclaim, “More than my flesh longs for food, my soul longs for you, O God!” Physical fasting is meant to be a pathway to spiritual feasting.
The following pages are designed to accompany a twenty-one day fast, providing spiritual food to chew on during this undertaking. As you suppress your appetite for the things of earth, and prayerfully find nourishment in his life-giving Word, may God be pleased to draw you closer, grow you deeper, and give you glimpses of his glory that truly satisfy your soul.