For several years, in month of January, the members of New Hope have participated together in a spiritually focused fast. Each year the format changes a bit to keep things from becoming “religious tradition” and to take us out of our comfort zone in order to be reminded to focus on the Lord.
The intent of the fast is to push us to spend more time meditating on Scripture, seeking the Lord in prayer, and glorifying Him with our time and energy. The idea of a fast is to replace worldly pleasures with other things that bring us closer to our glorious Creator, Redeemer, King, and Heavenly Father.
Some people are familiar and comfortable with the idea of fasting, and others may not have participated in one before. This guide is meant to encourage you no matter where you are at.
The fast is NOT:
- A weight loss self-improvement plan
- A time of self-pity or self-punishment
- A time of self-focus; focus instead on God and intercede in prayer for others
For the month of January (4 weeks), choose 1 day per week to fast from food from sunrise to sunset. Whenever you are hungry, use those bodily urges as reminders to pray, read scripture, and/or reflect on our Lord. When you break each fast at the end of the day, give God thanks for being our provider in all things and dwell on the attributes of God. Do this with friends and family if you can.
Each day of fasting, all participating members are asked to pray in unity. We believe there is power in a church praying together and with one mind. Therefore, pray for the following themes:
Week 1: Church unity, fellowship, and love
Week 2: Church desire for purity, peacemaking, and a faithful witness
Week 3: Church discipleship, renewal, and spiritual growth
Week 4: Church evangelism, service to others, and salvation in our community
Each day of fasting, in addition to your own reading all participating members are asked to read a selection of Scripture that aligns with the prayer focus of that week:
Week 1: John 15:12-17 & Eph. 4:1-16
Week 2: 1 Peter 4:1-11 & Titus 3:1-9
Week 3: Phil. 1:3-11 & Eph. 3:14-21
Week 4: Acts 1:1-11 & Acts 10:34-43
- Choose 1 week of this 3 week period to fast from media, hobbies, and/or anything you would normally do for enjoyment that can be re-purposed for prayer, reading, and reflection. Again the idea is not to simply deny yourself pleasure, it is to re-purpose that time for letting the Spirit of the Lord minister to us as we focus on Him.
- Take vacation time off work or greatly limit your activities on any of the fasting days to focus entirely on the Lord. Use that time to pray, read, and reflect during the hours you are fasting.
- Keep a journal of what God reveals to you during the fast and how the Spirit leads you to respond to those truths about Himself and the Kingdom.