“In like a lion, out like a lamb,” so they say about this month. Yet when I title this “March Fast,” I’m not talking about a command to move forward at an increased speed, nor am I talking about this month in which we see the change of seasons. I’m calling for a corporate season of prayer and fasting in the month of March. Interestingly, though, I do believe it will result in moving forward faster and harken a change of seasons within our body and individual lives.
Why call this fast?
Fasting is one of the most powerful of all Christian spiritual disciplines. Through the Spirit-led and Spirit-focused renunciation or suppression of our carnal appetites, using those times we’d normally apply to the pleasures of food and drink, entertainments and distractions, God and His Word become our increased focus. At such times the Holy Spirit can transform our lives individually and our life corporately in dramatic ways. He unearths hidden things needing to be dealt with, and breaks bondages - some we may not have even realized are there - to set us on a path of greater freedom and fruitfulness in His Kingdom.
The Spirit of God, through the prophet Isaiah, says it thus:
Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke? (58:6, NKJV)
God planted Danforth Community Church almost 94 years ago. And He’s not done with His church yet! Our future is greater than all past years behind us…if we dedicate ourselves to Him afresh, laying aside “every weight and sin which clings so closely.” Why will we do this? So we may fulfill His will and words, running “with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…”
You will probably recognize these words from Hebrews 12:1. The verse actually starts with “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…” The witnesses the writer speaks of from chapter 11 are many of the “greats” of biblical faith: Abel, Abraham, Moses, and even the former Canaanite prostitute Rahab. Why mention her? Because our backgrounds, no matter of what sin or ethnicity, are no hinderance to those who choose to follow God! This is a great encouragement to each of us.
Have you never fasted before? No worries. Now, in the company of your brothers and sisters in Christ, is the best time to start. Together, we will overcome and see God’s move.
What does fasting do? Why should we fast?
What Isaiah says is some heavy stuff, certainly more than we can accomplish in our own power. We need God’s power to fulfill God’s will. So what does it accomplish and why did our Biblical forebears fast? Here are some examples:
- JESUS EXPECTS US TO FAST: Matthew 6:16-18
- For God’s intervention: 2 Samuel 12:16
- Repentance: 1 Sam. 7:7, Dan. 9:3-5, Joel 2:12-13, Jonah 3:5-9
- Guidance: Acts 13: 2-4; 14:23
- Worship: Luke 2:37
- Strength: Matthew 17:20-21; Ezra 8:23
- Humility: Psalm 35:13-14, 1 Kings 21:25-27, James 4:10
- How to fast: Matthew 6:17-18; Luke 18:9-12
There are two basic Biblical types, the complete water-only fast and the “Daniel” fast that is typically vegetarian. Indications in both Scripture and church history demonstrate that there are many variations, too. There are many aspects of fasting that are not just about food, but about other habitual behaviours, too. Here are some ideas for you to consider:
- Juice fast: No solid foods - liquids only
- Desserts, candies, alcohol, caffeine and sugary drinks
- Entertainments: TV, movies, “screens” - electronic games, social media, news and general surfing the web
- Romantic and intimate relationships; excess socialization
- Various hours of the day and days of the week
Any and all of these can be part of your fast.
How do you know which and what to do?
- Consult your physician before complete and partial food fasts, especially if you are on medications and/or have existing/chronic health challenges.
- Pray: This is a spiritual exercise that involves the physical. Ask the Holy Spirit to prompt you in what to fast, listen and heed His instructions…especially if your “flesh” cries out in protest. That’s a sure sign of our carnal natures’ having too much indulgence.
What Do We and Don’t We Do While Fasting?
The purpose of fasting is to set aside extra time and focus on our relationship with God in prayer, worship and the Word. The denial and suppression of our physical and social beings is for the purpose of elevating our spiritual being, of honing our spiritual ears to hearing and heeding the voice of God’s Spirit.
It is so that we grow closer, more grounded in and flow in greater measure in the Spirit of God. Why? It is about His power in us for His purpose. What is that purpose? To shine, reflecting Him to the world around us.
Thus we disconnect for a time from food, excess socialization and other entertainments, dedicating the time to seeking Him. It allows us to rest and be rejuvenated, breaks addictions and sets us free. We continue washing our faces (not appearing distressed or acting out our fasting for other people to see us), continuing exercise and gentle physical fitness.
What will happen?
If you’re like me, my times of fasting are typically “flat.” In other words, they’re not so-called spiritual “highs.” Rather, it is after the fast that I notice the difference. Others do experience times of deep spiritual significance while fasting. Each of us is unique and will experience our time uniquely. The result we will all see, however, is a greater intimacy with God, a greater anointing and move of His Spirit in our gatherings and evidenced in His moves in response to our prayers. And all of these result in us reflecting him better to the world around us. And the Danforth, E. Toronto and larger are need more reflection of Jesus!
May the Lord bless each of us as we undertake this 21-day fast together!
P.S. If you're looking for a good Bible study to focus on during your fast, here's one on fasting itself. As you study fasting during your fast, may you discover all God's power as you do!