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Fasting in Scripture is abstaining from food for spiritual purposes. It is not intended to get God’s attention
so much as to give Him our attention. It is also a rudimentary, safe way to learn to not give in to a desire.

During the Week                                           When you Meet
Try one or more of these ways to experience               C   Share what actions you have taken. It is best
fasting:                                                      to be specific about this. It will help you help
                                                              each other to actually try something new.
“ Try a partial fast, by not eating something you
  desire but do not need (meat, dessert, candy,           C   Share how it went. What did you find helpful?
  between meal snacks, or anything else you like              What was difficult? What insights did you
  and typically would eat). This is an exercise in            receive? Has your understanding of God
  denying a desire that is normally indulged.                 expanded? Have you learned anything about
                                                              yourself? Have you decided to do anything as
“ If you are a novice to fasting, try a one day
                                                              a result?
  fast. Many find going from lunch to lunch or
  from supper to supper (therefore skipping two           C   Pray for each other. Feel free to share prayer
  meals) an easy way to try fasting in a way that             requests, but also be especially mindful of
  does not impact their family very much. When                themes, ideas, commitments or direction that
  your thoughts turn to food (and they will!) use             emerge from your sharing.
  that as a reminder that you have devoted this
  time to giving attention to God.
“ Try this simple one day fast once a week for
  several weeks before trying a longer fast.
“ If you are more experienced at fasting try a
  longer fast. Devote the time gained to prayer
  and meditation.
“ Try a fast from television (or computer use,
  computer games, watching sports, reading
  novels, or anything else that would typically
  take a lot of your time). Devote the time gained
  to relational activities with God or with people.
“ Whatever fasting you try, here are a few
  general pointers to remember:
C   Christian fasting is undertaken for spiritual
    purposes. There may very well be medical
    benefits for doing so, but that is not the
    purpose. It is not a dieting technique.
C   Fasting is also not a hunger strike. The point is
    not to get God’s attention (or, even worse, to
    try to force Him to do as we ask), but to devote
    our attention to him.
C   Be sure to drink plenty of water or fruit juices.
                                      Passages and Quotes
"Even now," declares the LORD ,                            What we hunger for most, we worship.            (John Piper)
"return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning."                    God’s intent for each of us is that we should grow in
Rend your heart and not your garments.                     character and ability to the point where he can
Return to the LORD your God,                               empower us to do what we want to do. The work we
for he is gracious and compassionate,                      must do now is to train our “wanter.” (Dallas Willard)
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity. (Joe 2:12-13)        No horse gets anywhere until he is harnessed. No
                                                           stream or gas ever drives anything until it is confined.
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be     No Niagara is ever turned into light and power until it is
tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty   tunnelled. No life ever grows great until it is focussed,
nights, he was hungry.                      (Mat 4:1-2)    dedicated, disciplined.        (Harry Emerson Fosdick)

"When you fast, do not look sombre as the hypocrites       When you are training soldiers in manoeuvres, you
do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are    practice with blank ammunition because you would like
fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their    them to have practice before meeting the real enemy.
reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head    So we must practice in abstaining from pleasures which
and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to      are not in themselves wicked. If you don’t abstain from
men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who     pleasure, you won’t be good when the time comes
is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in       along. It is purely a matter of practice.  (C.S. Lewis)
secret, will reward you.                  (Mat 6:16-18)
                                                           Most of our life is a gorging of one artificially inflamed
There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of         appetite after another. Any alteration of this pattern for
Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she      the sake of ministry is a fast – and one that would
had lived with her husband seven years after her           please God.                                   (John Piper)
marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-
four. She never left the temple but worshipped night       Of fasting I say this: it is right to fast frequently in order
and day, fasting and praying.          (Luk 2:36-37)       to subdue and control the body.               (Martin Luther)

They said to him, "John's disciples often fast and pray,   The Man who never fasts is no more in the way of
and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go     heaven than the man who never prays. (John Wesley)
on eating and drinking." Jesus answered, "Can you
make the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with    Fasting is supposed to be the ordinary practice of the
them? But the time will come when the bridegroom will      godly. It is only a means, however; if rested in as an
be taken from them; in those days they will fast."         end, it will be an abomination in the site of God.
                                          (Luk 5:33-35)                                             (Andrew Fuller)

While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the      More than any other discipline, fasting reveals the
Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul      things that control us.             (Richard Foster)
for the work to which I have called them." So after they
had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on          Experience fasting and you will love it.
them and sent them off.                    (Act 13:2-3)                                       (Adalbert de Vogue)

Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each        Prayer needs fasting for its full growth. Prayer is the
church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them        one hand with which we grasp the invisible. Fasting is
to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.             the other hand, the one with which we let go of the
                                           (Act 14:23)     visible.                               (Andrew Murray)

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