21 Days of Prayer & Fasting
Our 21 day fast will take place between February 4 - 25.
You can abstain from food, social media, TV, or whatever it is that you want to give up for a few weeks. The fast is about more than giving something up. It is about adding things into our lives that can better position us to hear from God.
Maybe you want to read the Bible more, be a better husband/wife, a better parent, discover purpose...try spending the time you usually watch TV in prayer instead. Let's make this our best year yet, for Hamilton Elim and for each one of us.
Scripture does not command Christians to fast. At the same time, the Bible presents fasting as something that is good, profitable, and beneficial. The book of Acts records believers fasting before they made important decisions (Acts 13:2; 14:23). Fasting and prayer are often linked together (Luke 2:37; 5:33). Too often, the focus of fasting is on the lack of food. Instead, the purpose of fasting should be to take your eyes off the things of this world to focus completely on God. Fasting is a way to demonstrate to God, and to ourselves, that we are serious about our relationship with Him. Fasting helps us gain a new perspective and a renewed reliance upon God.
Although fasting in Scripture is almost always a fasting from food, there are other ways to fast. Anything given up temporarily in order to focus all our attention on God can be considered a fast (1 Corinthians 7:1-5). Fasting should be limited to a set time, especially when fasting from food. Extended periods of time without eating can be harmful to the body. Fasting is not intended to punish the flesh, but to redirect attention to God. Fasting should not be considered a “dieting method” either. The purpose of a biblical fast is not to lose weight, but rather to gain deeper fellowship with God. Anyone can fast, but some may not be able to fast from food (diabetics, for example). Everyone can temporarily give up something in order to draw closer to God.
By taking our eyes off the things of this world, we can more successfully turn our attention to Christ. Fasting is not a way to get God to do what we want. Fasting changes us, not God. Fasting is not a way to appear more spiritual than others. Fasting is to be done in a spirit of humility and a joyful attitude (Matthew 6:16-18).
What are the different types of fasting in the Bible? Usually, fasting is the abstaining of food for a certain period of time. There are different types of fasting in the Bible, however, and not all of them involve food.
The regular fast is done by abstaining from all food, both solid and liquid, except for water. This is the type of fasting Judah’s King Jehoshaphat called for when his country was confronted with invasion (2 Chronicles 20:3). The Lord defeated their enemies, and the men of Judah blessed the Lord (2 Chronicles 20:24–27). After the Babylonian Captivity, the people returning to Jerusalem prayed and fasted, asking God for His protection on their journey (Ezra 8:21). The Lord Jesus fasted during His forty days in the wilderness being tempted by Satan (Luke 4:2). When Jesus was hungry, Satan tempted Him to turn the stones into bread, to which Jesus replied, “Man shall not live by bread alone” (Luke 4:4).
Another type of biblical fasting is the partial fast. The prophet Daniel spent three weeks fasting from certain foods. In Daniel 10, the prophet says, “I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over” (Daniel 10:2–3). Note that Daniel’s fast to express his grief on this occasion only omitted “choice” food, and it also involved relinquishing the use of oils and “lotions” for refreshment. Today, many Christians follow this example and abstain from certain foods or activities for a short time, looking to the Lord for their comfort and strength.
Also mentioned in the Bible is the absolute fast, or the full fast, where no food or water is consumed. When Esther discovered the plan for all the Jews to be killed in Persia, she and her fellow Jews fasted from food and water for three days before she entered the king’s courts to ask for his mercy (Esther 4:16). Another example of an absolute fast is found in the story of Saul’s conversion. The murderous Saul encountered Jesus in His glory on the road to Damascus. “For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything” (Acts 9:9). Immediately following that time of blindness and fasting, Saul dedicated his life to preaching Jesus Christ.
In the cases of Esther and Saul, the absolute fast only lasted three days. However, Moses and Elijah took part in miraculous, forty-day absolute fasts. When Moses met God on the mountaintop to receive the tablets of stone, he ate no bread and drank no water (Deuteronomy 9:9). And, after Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel, infuriating Queen Jezebel, Elijah fled for his life and spent forty days of fasting in the wilderness (1 Kings 19).
The Bible also mentions a sexual fast, although not by that name. In Exodus 19:15, the people of Israel were to prepare for their encounter with the Lord at Mt. Sinai, and part of their preparation was to abstain from sexual relations for three days. And in 1 Corinthians 7:5 Paul says that a married couple can mutually agree to abstain from sex for a short period of time in order to devote themselves to prayer. But then they are to “come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
The purpose of fasting is not to get God to respond as a genie in a bottle to grant our every wish. Fasting, whether it is regular, partial, absolute, or sexual, is a seeking after God’s heart, all other blessings and benefits being secondary to God Himself. This is what sets apart biblical fasting from other religious and cultural practices around the world.