We just completed this year’s annual corporate church fast! Every year during the month of January, we consecrate ourselves for twenty-one days, by way of fasting. This is to help prepare ourselves for the year to come.
A few young ladies and I helped one another in accountability during the fast. During the fast, some people decided to sacrifice additional items, which was inspiring. However, some fell off by eating the wrong things, or by becoming discouraged and giving up. I realized we were so distracted by the lack of food and what we were losing out on, that we didn't even notice what we should have been gaining. Here are a few things I’d like to share about fasting.
1. What is fasting?
“Fasting is the willful abstaining from natural pleasures for spiritual purpose.” It is a personal commitment to renounce your natural desires for spiritual ones. It is also a dedication to a period of time to devote yourself to God without distractions.
Fasting is feeding the spirit, rather than your flesh. Fasting requires holiness, which means to set yourself apart from things and others.
2. What is the reason you are fasting?
Many biblical figures showcase their devotion to God by fasting. Jesus, David, Daniel, Esther, and many more endured a season of fasting. You may notice that all fasting is not the same.
Some are for moments of crisis and help from God, some are for honoring God, for hearing from God, for drawing near to God, or for provision from God. Everything we do should have a purpose. So the first thing to determine is the reason you are fasting.
3. What type of fast are you doing?
Fasting can be done either personally or corporately. Fasting is necessary for all believers. In the same way you have a reason to fast personally, there should also be a reason to do it corporately. Corporate fasting is the type of fasting most churches practice.
The church congregation is asked, as a unified body, to fast from specific things for the spiritual advancement of the church. On the other hand, personal fasts vary; they can be full, partial, or intermediate. A personal is only between you and God and is left discreet from others.
4. How long should you fast?
The duration of your fast is solely between you and God. This is dependent on the purpose of your fast. Depending on the nature of your fast, the time frame should mimic the desire. Biblically, the common time frames are three, seven, twenty-one, and forty days. Matthew 4:1-2, Esther 4:16