Day 48: “The Fasting Experience,”
Our breath prayer for today. As you inhale, whisper, “We have stilled our hearts…“ As you exhale whisper, “…and wait for You to stir our being.”
Slowly read aloud the following Scripture
[And Jesus said,] “when you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces so that they will appear to others as fasting; I tell you the truth, they have their reward. But when you fast anoint your head with oil and wash your face so that you will not appear to others as fasting, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
(Matthew 6:16-18, MOUNCE)
For further exploration:
Heavenly Father, our souls honor You. Thank You for our family relationships. We thank You for peace umpiring our familial relationships and interactions. Lord, we thank You for fulfilling Your plans and purposes in our lives and for surrounding us with favor like a shield. Thank Y o u for blessing us continually with Your loving kindness and tender mercies. Your mercy endures forever. You are great and Your power is absolute. Your understanding is beyond comprehension. We love You and extol Your Holy Name. Out of the mouths of babes and infants, You have ordained strength. What are mere mortals that You should think of them, human beings that You should care for them?
Glorious Father, we declare that our families will live in peaceful habitations, in safe dwellings, and in quiet resting places. Stability, salvation, love, wisdom and knowledge abide in each home. Lord, we rebuke the spirits of argument, slander, strife, perversion, violence, offense, lies, rebellion, disobedience and cruelty in our families. We break all soul ties, strongholds and generational curses in our family bloodlines. No weapon formed against our families will prosper. We confess that everything the devil means for evil will be turned around by our God for the good of our families. We call for a spiritual renewal and restoration in our families. Father, we will hold fast to the confession of our faith without wavering. The love of God will reign supreme in our homes and the peace of God is an umpire in our family relationships. We decree that because our families seek Your Kingdom above all else, and live righteously, we will have everything that we stand in need of.
Holy Spirit, I declare the following promises of God to manifest in my family:
Wonderful Father, we ask that You give our family members one heart and put a new spirit within all of us. Where there are strained relationships in our families, please turn our hearts back to one another. Holy Spirit, please begin to heal the wounds that family secrets have inflicted on the souls and minds of some of our members. Lead them to competent Christian counseling to help them process their pain. Give us Your wisdom. Let discretion preserve us and understanding keep us from the way of evil. Please unite our families closer together. Father, open the lines of communication in our homes so that there is a good rapport in our families. Please keep our children and youth as the apples of Your eye. Let Your peace, love and understanding reside in our families. Lord, some of our families are in dire need of help. Please rescue them and give them wisdom on how to begin to repair and rebuild those damaged relationships.
Merciful Father, please forgive our families for sin. Forgive us for allowing our jobs to be a greater priority than our families. Forgive us for taking our loved ones for granted. Forgive us for not praying for our family members consistently. Forgive us for strife, anger, envy, jealousy, sexual immorality, and for verbal or physical abuse within our homes. Lord, forgive me for (list any sins that you have committed).
Holy Spirit, remind us all of those we need to forgive and help us to be quick to forgive. As for me, Holy Spirit, bring to my remembrance those I need to forgive and help me to forgive. (Take a moment and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal names or faces of people that you may need to forgive. As He reveals them say, “I forgive name of person(s).” Now, trust the Lord to heal any wounds in your soul caused by unforgiveness.)
Holy Spirit, help our families not to yield to temptation but deliver us from the evil one.
Sovereign Lord, You are King! You are robed in majesty and armed with strength. The world stands firm and cannot be shaken. Your throne has stood from time immemorial. You are from the everlasting past. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Concepts to Consider
Today we will consider what it means to fast as a Wesleyan follower of Jesus. Anglican pastors John and Charles Wesley (founders of Methodism) worked and lived in late 1700’s England and methodically and diligently sought to follow the heart of God.
One of the outward expressions of their faith was regular fasting. John generally fasted two days a week (Tuesday night to Wednesday afternoon and Thursday night to Friday afternoon). A “Thursday evening-Friday sundown” pattern was typical for most Anglican Christians during his lifetime.
In John Wesley’s sermon on fasting taken from Matthew 6, he warns us that in order to rightly practice the discipline of fasting, one should avoid extremes and should therefore neither undervalue nor overvalue it, because it is not an end unto itself. Rather, fasting is a means of grace, “that God Himself has ordained, and in which therefore, when it is duly used, He will surely give His blessing.”
Wesley goes on to give the following practical guidelines for fasting:
- Let it be done unto the Lord, with our eyes singly fixed on Him. (He is the focus of our fast. We don’t fast in order to try and manipulate or coerce God to do what we want, but rather, when we fast we have a better chance of getting out of God’s way and acting in God’s grace.)
- Let us beware of fancying that we merit anything of Godby fasting. (God doesn’t love us more because we fast or less because we don’t.)
- The body may sometimes be afflicted too much by fasting. (Fasting should not become an “extreme spiritual sport.” There are no spiritual merit badges for “ harshest or most earnest ” If not done sensibly, fasting can harm the body.)
- Let us care to afflict our souls as well as our bodies. (As we saw yesterday, submitting our animal appetites to God’s grace in fasting helps us stay in alignment with God’s heart and desire for us.)
- With fasting, let us always join in fervent prayer.
Today as you fast consider continuing to fill the time you would have spent eating with Scriptural prayers and meditations.
- Personal and Kingdom Reflections: please continue to reflect on your experience with fasting in some tangible way (journal, blog, vlog, create, etc.) What are you feeling? What are you thinking? What has the Lord revealed to you about yourself? About the world?
Optional Time of Centering/Soaking
If possible, take some time, perhaps 5 to 15 minutes, to get into a comfortable position and simply allow the Lord to minister to you at a deep level (Psalm 42:7). Turn off or put down all distractions. Close your eyes. Hold in your thoughts a meaning ful word, phrase, or image from the Scripture you read today. Release all other thoughts and concerns into the Presence of the Lord. If your thoughts wander, that’s okay, just gently return to your Biblical word, phrase, or image.
You may want to set a timer.