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Biblical Fasting - Why Should I Fast? How Should I Fast?

Have you ever wondered about the purpose of fasting in the Bible?  Have you ever been confused on how to go about fasting?  Here are some biblical reasons and ways to go about fasting!

10 Reasons to Fast
From Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney
1. Strengthen Prayer
2. Seek God’s Guidance
3. Express Grief
4. Seek Deliverance or Protection
5. Express Repentance or Return to God
6. Humble Oneself Before God
7. Express Concern for the Work of God
8. Minister to the Needs of Others
9. Overcome Temptation & Dedicate Yourself to God
10. Express Love and Worship to God

7 Ways to Fast
Normal Fast – fasting from all food, not from water
o Jesus’ temptation (Matthew 4:1-11)
Partial Fast – limitation of your diet
o (Daniel 1:12 – vegetables to eat and water to drink)
o (Matthew 3:4 - John the Baptist - locusts & wild honey
Absolute Fast – fasting from all food and all water
(Ezra 8:21-23, Esther 4:12-16, Paul Acts 9:9, David 2Sam12:15-23)
Supernatural Fast – requires God’s intervention to survive
o Moses (Deuteronomy 9:9), Elijah (1 Kings 19:8)
Private Fast - in a way not to be noticed (Matthew 6:16-18)
Congregational Fast – united focus (Joel 2:15-16, Acts 13:2)
Other than food - “a voluntary denial of a normal function for the sake of intense spiritual activity” - Richard Foster

(Ezra 8:21-23, ESV) 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. 22 For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, “The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him.” 23 So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty. 

How to Pray - Prayer Ideas

Ever get stuck into a routine of prayer that has become boring or dull?  Here are some helpful ideas to apply prayer in a new and deeper way!

 “Those who know God the best are the richest and most powerful in prayer. Little acquaintance with God, and strangeness and coldness to Him, make prayer a rare and feeble thing.” - E. M. Bounds


Here are some suggestions for prayer...

1.      Pray over the names of God.  Reflect on who He is and adore Him (from God Is by Ken Hemphill)
a.      Alpha (beginning), Omega (end),  Our Advocate, the Almighty, the Author & Finisher, the Beloved Son, the Bread of Life, the Bright Morning Star, Captain of our Salvation, the Chief Shepherd, the Cornerstone, Our Creator, Our Counselor, Our Deliverer, the Door, the Faithful Witness, Everlasting Father, the First Begotten, the Good Shepherd, the Great High Priest, the Holy Child, the Head of the Church, the Great I AM, Immanuel, Jesus, the Just One, the Life, the Lamb of God, the Light of the World, the Lion of Judah, the Lord of All, the Lord of Glory, Our Master, the Man of Sorrows, Our Mediator, the Messiah, the Mighty God, Our Redeemer, the Prince of Peace, Our Rock, the Resurrection & the Life, Our Savior, the Rose of Sharon, the Son of God, the Son of Man, the True Light, the True Vine, the Truth, Wonderful, the Word of God, & the Way

2.      Pray the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6)

3.      Pick a Psalm and pray through it, reflecting how you might be feeling and thinking in a similar way or situation
a.      150 Psalms – 5 per day

4.      ACTS
a.      Adoration (of God)
b.      Confession (of sins)
c.      Thanksgiving (for His work)
d.      Supplication (how can you ask God to help you or others)
                                                              i.      Spend time praying over each of these areas

5.      Remain in silence – reflect on how the Lord is working upon your life

6.      Pray for Missionaries – International, across North America, & Military chaplains

7.      Pray over the 10 commandments and ask for forgiveness of those you have broken (Exodus 20)

8.      Journal out (write) down a prayer

9.      Write your sins on a dry erase board or a piece of paper.  Pray for forgiveness and then erase them or tear up the paper.

10. Pray out loud.

11. Pray for five of your friends by name.

12. Pray for Students, Families, Children, or Senior Adults at your church by name.

13. Pray for a non-believer by name.  Pray for a struggling Christian by name.

14. Pray for the leaders of your church:  Staff. Lay leadership. Sunday School teachers. Volunteers.

15. Pray for five members of your family by name.

16. Pray for opportunities to witness and for boldness and courage to do so.

17. Pray for increased growth in your own spiritual walk with Christ: Bible Reading, Prayer, Worship, Stewardship, Service, etc..

18. Thank God because we are: the salt of the earth, the light of the world, witnesses of the Gospel, branches in God’s vine, friends of Jesus, called by Christ, Saints of God, justified before God, walking in newness of life, in the Spirit, Sons of God, more than conquerors, one body, strong for the weak, filled with God’s goodness, not Spiritually lacking, in Christ Jesus, God’s field and building, God’s temple, the Members of Christ, known by God, the Aroma of Christ, given over to death, protected from Fear of Death, a new creation, ambassadors for Christ, strong when we are weak, crucified with Christ, heirs with Christ, sons and not slaves, not under the law, sealed with the Holy Spirit, created to do good, fellow citizens with the Saints, Christ’s household, not quitters, protected by God’s power, God’s people, blessed when we are cursed, called God’s children, from God (from We Are by Ken Hemphill)

19. Pray for strength and ways of escape with certain struggles and temptations you are dealing with.  Pray for Satan to remain far from you.

20. Prayer walk:  Walk around and pray for the areas and people you see.

21. Pray for specific needs/concerns of others.

22. Pray for your future spouse or children (if the Lord wills).

23. Randomly open your Bible and pray over the Scripture you read.  Reflect how you may have experienced or are experiencing similar things.

24. Pray freely as you feel led.

25. Pray an ancient prayer of a Puritan (a book called: Valley of Vision)

26. Pray through a church prayer sheet or bulletin.

27. Pray standing up.  Kneeling.  Sitting down.  Laying down.

28. Pray every morning.  Pray every evening.

29. Pray in a group over each others needs/requests and as you feel led

30. Pray as you watch the news. As you are sitting in class.  As you are driving a car (eyes open!)

  1. Pray when you receive news by email, text message, phone calls, or Facebook.

"The life, power, and glory of the church is prayer…without it, the church is lifeless and powerless” – E.M. Bounds

How to Pray - Prayer Truths

Ever struggle with praying?  Not know how to pray?  Here are some good truths about prayer to help direct you towards starting or deepening a habit of prayer!

Personal Prayer(Matthew 6:5-15, ESV)

Prayer is Personal Conversation

v.5-6 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

Prayer is Meaningful Conversation
v.7-8 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” 

Prayer is God-Focused Conversation
v.9 Pray then like this:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12  & forgive us our debts (sins), as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

14-15 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. 

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