River West Church
Saturday, April 11, 2020
Let’s Seek God Together
Throughout the history of the church and throughout the biblical narrative, the people of God have always understood prayer and fasting to be a powerful way to seek the heart of God.
“Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods.”
“And when (not if) you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret.”
“And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.”
Will you join us as we seek God together as a church family for His will and His direction in our lives?
At its most basic level, fasting in the bible refers to abstaining from food (or other things) for spiritual purposes. In other words, the goal is not simply to give up something. The goal is to gain something. Perhaps the reason most of us rarely, if ever, fast is because we only think of fasting as abstaining. But the true power and purpose of fasting involves what we gain.
Perhaps no one has said it more profoundly than pastor and author John Piper: “If you don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.” This is the purpose of fasting; to awaken in us a deeper hunger… our true hunger.
When you fast, that ache in your stomach serves as a reminder that Jesus is the bread of heaven. Only Jesus can truly satisfy your spiritual hunger. Fasting can awaken that appetite.
Longing For God Though Fasting And Prayer
So the goal of our day of prayer and fasting is not to get anything from God. Our goal today is simply to awaken our deepest longings for God. Throughout this day, every time you feel a “pang” for that thing you are abstaining from, use it as a prompt to turn your heart towards God in prayer. Recognize that your true hunger is for Him. Let God draw you, by His Spirit, through His Son, into deeper and deeper fellowship with Him.
How to Fast And Pray
Prepare Your Mind
If you have little experience or familiarity with fasting, here are some resources to prepare you for what you’re about to experience:
- Listen to Fasting, a sermon preached as a part of our Seeking God series.
- Read Fasting For Beginners by David Matthis.
Prepare Your Heart
On the morning of April 10, begin your day with a prayer of preparation. Use Psalm 25 as a guide. Put your trust fully in God. Ask Him if there are any barriers between you. Confess sins as needed.
Prepare A Plan
If fasting is new for you, you’re going to need a plan. Here are some practical suggestions for how to approach a day of fasting.
- Complete Fast: Beginning Saturday morning, drink only liquids (water, juice, broth). This fast could be broken either on Saturday evening, or perhaps on Easter morning! By the way, this is where we get our word “break-fast”.
- Partial Fast: Fast at particular times during the day. Perhaps skip one meal (breakfast or lunch), or abstain from a certain kind of food.
- Soul Fast: This is a good fast for those who for health reasons cannot or should not abstain from food. Consider giving up anything distracting you from a deeper connection with Christ. Examples could be technology, alcohol, social media, or binge-watching Netflix!
Prepare Your Prayer List
Throughout this day, you will have regular reminders and opportunities to pray. In advance, make a list of people, needs, situations, and concerns that you would like to bring to the Father in prayer. This could include prayers for unbelieving loved ones, prayers for the impact of the gospel and our online services, prayers for God’s protection and grace during the Coronavirus crisis, and prayers for our government leaders and those who serve in the medical field.
Let’s See What God Will Do
My friends, I am excited for our church family to unite together in this kind of pursuit. In my own spiritual life, some of the greatest moments of intimacy and joy in my relationship with Christ have come in times of prayer and fasting. I am confident that we will see God do amazing things in and through our church family.
To Him be the glory.
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