“Yet even now,” says the Lord, “Return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments” (Joel 2: 12-13, RSV).
Recently, I felt God calling me to a fast. There are so many benefits to fasting, from spiritual to physical, that I find it’s always been a blessing in my life. However, each time I prepare to start I find myself questioning my motives and how to go about it.
For example, where do I even begin? Do I need to prepare? And if so, what does that look like?
To gain answers to these questions, I always turn to God’s Word and learn that he has much to say about fasting and prayer. In fact, fasting is mentioned over 70 times in the Bible!
Substance Church is preparing to do its annual January fast, which is why I’d like to share what God has taught me in my search about fasting.
Cleanse your heart.
Pray this prayer from Psalms 139:23-24:
Search me, God, and know my heart;test me and know my anxious thoughts.See if there is any offensive way in me,and lead me in the way everlasting.
Ask the Lord to reveal any area that has cost you time and fellowship with him and consider fasting that thing. Or maybe God will reveal an area where he wants to bring breakthrough into your life. Then ask the Holy Spirit what your fast should look like. It may be food, sugar, time, social media, television or . . . the list could be endless!
Also ask God what fast would honor him. What could you give up that would open the door to more of Jesus. In other words, what stops you from receiving more from him? To get the most from your fast, it’s important to ask God about it and come alongside the work that he wants to do in your life.
Worship while you fast.
Time spent with the Lord is an essential part of any fast. You are giving up something for him and worship honors him.
“Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice” (Psalms 141:2, ESV).
Create space for God to speak, and for you to listen.
I like to journal, so I would recommend that you journal the process of hearing from God. What is God saying to you as you spend time with him? Is he giving you visions? Dreams? A song? Listen for his voice. Write everything down so you can remember what he is saying. If God is speaking, you don’t want to miss it or forget it!
“You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word” (Psalms 119:114).
Expect and enjoy.
Expect to hear God’s voice. Enjoy this focused, planned process. James 4:8 tells us to draw near to God and he will draw near to us. He promises to be there when we seek him. Expect. Enjoy.
Read Isaiah 58
Finally, I’d like to encourage you to read Isaiah 58, as it tells us about the kind of fast that’s pleasing to God. You might be surprised by what God has to say! Read this chapter and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart.
It’s never too late (or too early!) to start preparing your heart to fast and pray. May you be blessed in your fasting journey!
Lord God, I pray that as your daughters seek your face, that you will bring each one into a personal place with you. May we hear your voice, remember your words and enjoy the art of drawing near to you. Afterall, you created us for fellowship and we are here to honor you. Jesus, we love you. We make a place for you. Thank you for making a place for us! Amen.
Cindy Dullum and her husband live in Blaine. She enjoys spending time with family, camping, writing, studying God’s Word, and being creative. She has a passion to see women grow in their faith and encourage each other.