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3 FASTING OPTIONS

What is it? 

  • A fast, based on the fast that Daniel and his Hebrew companions took in Daniel 1, involves only the consumption of fruits, vegetables, and water.

Sounds interesting. What was that all about?

  • Daniel and his companions were placed in what appeared to be an impossible situation, in need of God’s intervention and favor. Rather than hit the easy button and turn against God’s commands, the four chose to fast and eat only fruits, vegetables, and water, all while entrusting their situation to Him. Daniel 1:15-17 gives us a pretty good look at just what happened because of it.

What are the specifics?

  • It’s pretty simple! For 21 days a person consumes only fruits, vegetables, and water while wholeheartedly dedicating themselves to praying and connecting with God during that time.

Wait – I just did a Google search and there’s, like, 20 different ways people are saying to do this kind of fast.

  • As is our modern way of doing things, plenty of people have taken this concept from Daniel 1, added their own twist to it, and called it by the same name. We want to stay as close to the formula we see in Scripture, thus, what we’ve laid out above.

Last thing! What about whole grains?

  • If we’re getting super technical, there is some debate over one specific Hebrew word in a key Daniel 1 verse. Daniel 1:12 says, “‘Test us for ten days on a diet of vegetables and water,’ Daniel said.”
  • The Hebrew word that we’ve taken and translated into the English word “vegetables” is zeroa`. To a person who was speaking and reading ancient Hebrew, zeroa` would be used to refer to something that was grown from a seed sown in the ground. So, taking that into account, consuming things like whole grains and fruit would not be seen as a violation of this Biblical example.

 

What is it? 

  • A simple, water-only fast, that a person commits to one 24-hour period every week. Often this is done from sundown to sundown or sunrise to sunrise.

Oh? What was that all about?

  • All throughout scripture, individuals like Esther (Esther 4:16) found themselves at a place where they were confronted with matters beyond their control. Their response was often a full fast, often without even water. God’s response? It’s why Esther is still read to every Jewish person, every year.

What are the specifics?

  • This one is also pretty simple. For each of the 3 weeks of the fast, commit to a 24 hour span in which you will hold back from consuming anything that is not water. Our encouragement to you would be to focus in a special way on prayer during those and the non-fasting days as well.

 

What is it? 

  • For those who may not be able to fast food due to physical hardship or illness, we encourage a fast that focuses on the intake of digital content instead.

That may actually work. How do I do it?

  • Before the 21 days begin, we want to encourage a person choosing this fast to pray and follow God’s leading on specifically what to fast. Many individuals have chosen to fast all streaming services, social media, video games, YouTube, or some combination of those items. The vital thing is (1) that it is a personally significant item to fast and (2) that a clear commitment is made at the front end of the fast.

But is it really fasting if there isn’t a change in food intake?

  • We do believe strongly in the first couple of food-related fasts but understand that not everyone is able to physically do such a fast. We certainly do not want to leave these people behind as we move this direction as a church, thus this option is here. And there are plenty of times when God asked His people to fast non-food items before a significant battle or event, so a Biblical precedent is there.

DEVOTIONALS

John 15:4Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.


Day 1: Monday, January 11

  • “Remain in me…” – Abiding

    Christ wants more than a closeness with us, and it’s so clear that He wants to be on more than “good terms” with us. He wants us so near that we are joined to Him, enfolded in Him, and inseparable from Him.  

    For today’s prayer focus, begin by simply drawing near to Him, praying for His Spirit to reveal any obstacles that need to be removed for this closeness to occur. Seek Him today with open ears and an open heart.

Day 2: Tuesday, January 12

  • “Remain in me…” – Lordship
  • There are a few terms we use commonly:  “Stop, in the name of the law…” “It was done in the name of justice…” or “You are ordered in the name of the king…” Simply put, it’s a way of describing the authority something is operating under. To “remain in” Christ, one must first place or submit themselves fully to His Lordship, taking themselves off the throne of their hearts and placing Him there.
  • For today’s prayer focus, examine your heart and your life’s actions for signs of exactly who has lordship over your life. In prayer, begin to offer and submit your life and the throne of your heart to His lordship.  Be specific with exactly what areas you are offering Him as you pray.

Day 3: Wednesday, January 13

  • “No branch can bear fruit by itself…” – Dependence
  • There is something quite human about wanting to do things “on our own”, isn’t there? Yet how many of us find ourselves here, today, in a place or situation where that simply will not cut it? In the Christian journey, there are places He’ll bring us to where this is the case! Why is this? Because we become fully alive when we realize our true need for Him!
  • For today’s prayer focus, go to Him with those things in your life that you’ve found you cannot do on your own. Hebrews 4:16 promises us that, in that place, and in Him, we will find the very mercy and grace we’ve found missing when trying to do it on our own.

Day 4: Thursday, January 14

  • “…it must remain in the vine.” – Grafting
  • Merriam-Webster defines grafting as “the joining of something (as a piece of skin or a plant bud) to something similar so as to grow together.” In the same way, we have been grafted into Christ through accepting His sacrifice on the cross! We are now on a journey of growing together with Him, & we must remain in Him in order to produce the fruit & live the life He has called us to live.
  • For today’s prayer focus, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the gravity of what it means to be grafted into Christ. Humbly embrace this reality & be intentional about inviting Christ into every area of your life, with the purpose being to become more like Him, with Him.

Day 5: Friday, January 15

  • “…bear fruit” – Producing Fruit
  • What if I told you that you bear fruit on a daily basis? Though you don’t have a say in whether or not you bear fruit, you do have a choice in what kind of fruit you bear. There is only one kind of fruit that lasts, & that is the fruit of the Spirit. Producing this fruit is not something we can do on our own; it requires us to stay consistently connected to the True Vine, allowing the Holy Spirit to do His work within us.
  • For today’s prayer focus, prayerfully consider the type of fruit that you may be producing. Refer to Galatians 5:19-26 to see what the fruit of the flesh looks like compared to the fruit of the Spirit. Bring your realizations to the Lord & ask Him to produce in you what only He can through His Spirit.

Day 6: Saturday, January 16

  • “…bear fruit” – Intercession
  • One of the great tragedies of today is that the fruit many Christians are bearing is eerily similar to the fruit of the world. Need an example? Just go on any social media platform & notice how many people who claim the name of Christ are quicker to criticize someone than to intercede on that same someone’s behalf. Rather than having a spirit of criticism, we are encouraged in Scripture to intercede on behalf & for the benefit of others, including our enemies!
  • For today’s prayer focus, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the ways you have acted from a spirit of criticism instead of a spirit of intercession. Read Matthew 5:43-48, & challenge yourself to begin interceding in prayer for someone you often find yourself criticizing; you will be amazed by how God will change your heart if you let Him!

Day 7: Sunday, January 17

  • “…unless you remain in me.” – Forgiveness
  • Living a life marked by forgiveness means operating in a constant state of forgiveness or release towards others. What does this look like? In a world that says retaliation & revenge are our rights when we’re wronged, Christ commands us to lay down our rights & instead extend to others the very same forgiveness that has been extended to us.
  • For today’s prayer focus, recognize that refusing to forgive is an obstacle to experiencing real freedom & living a fully alive life. Deliberately choose today to release others of their sins against you just as Christ has released you from your sins against Him.

John 15:7 – If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.


Day 8: Monday, January 18

  • “If…” – The Narrow Gate

  • The appearance of the word “If” at the beginning of this verse signifies that this is a conditional statement. A conditional statement introduces a hypothesis & follows it with a conclusion. With this in mind, IF we choose to remain in Jesus & to have His words remain in us, THEN we may ask of Him what we wish.

  • For today’s prayer focus, partner in prayer with someone for consistency in remaining in God’s love. Acknowledge the difficulties that will come along with being faithful, while still remembering what is on the other side of your obedience.


Day 9: Tuesday, January 19

  • “…my words remain in you” – Identity
  • Have you ever identified yourself by words that have been spoken to you? Whether good or bad, from yourself or someone else, it is crucial to remember that you are only as good as your source. If the source of our identity is coming from anything or anyone other than the Ultimate Source of God’s Word, we are building our lives upon a faulty foundation.
  • For today’s prayer focus, identify the words that are remaining in you other than the words that God says about you. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you switch sources, so that the foundation of your identity can be built upon the Ultimate Source of His word.


Day 10: Wednesday, January 20

  • “…ask” – Approaching the Father
  • What questions would you ask God if you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that He was standing ready & eager to hear them? Because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we have the ability to approach the Father with any questions that may be on our hearts. He is a good Father who desires to hear even our hardest questions, so much so that He moved heaven & earth to make a way for those burning questions to be heard.
  • For today’s prayer focus, take some time to read Hebrews 4:14-16, which talks about how we are able to confidently approach the Father through Jesus. Now that you are aware of your access to the Father, act on these newfound permissions by bringing your most burning questions to Him, knowing & believing that He wants to hear them!


Day 11: Thursday, January 21

  • “…whatever you wish” – Not my will, but Yours
  • Though we may ask whatever we wish if we are remaining in Him & His words are remaining in us, at the end of the day, it is important to understand that we still must ultimately submit our desires to His will. This is easier said than done, but it isn’t something we have to walk through alone! As we learn to submit our desires to God, we can trust that our hearts will begin to beat in rhythm with His, & that His desires will eventually become the desires of our hearts.
  • For today’s prayer focus, ask the Holy Spirit to help you submit your desires & your will to God’s.
  • Like Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount, our heart’s cry should be, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Ask Him to make this the cry of your heart in every way.


Day 12: Friday, January 22

  • “…whatever you wish” – Knowing the Will of God
  • If you have ever wondered, “Is it even possible to know God’s will for my life?” – you’re not alone! It can seem like an intimidating topic to tackle, but Romans 12:2 helps bring clarity to the subject. This verse reminds us that we are able to know His will for our lives through allowing our minds to be renewed by His Word!
  • For today’s prayer focus, practice allowing your mind to be renewed by God’s Word by praying it. Philippians 4:8 is a great place to start, as it discusses what type of thoughts should occupy our minds! As the Holy Spirit speaks to you, decide to submit to His guidance & obey what He reveals to you.


Day 13: Saturday, January 23

  • “…ask whatever you wish” – Contending in prayer
  • One definition for “contend” is: “to engage in a competition or campaign in order to win or achieve something.” Therefore, contending in prayer implies that there is another force we are up against. As believers, our true enemy is Satan, & he comes only to steal, kill, & destroy any & every good thing that God intends for us. God has not left us defenseless, though! He has fully equipped us to battle & bind the enemy with many spiritual weapons – including our prayers!
  • For today’s prayer focus, think about something difficult you’ve been reluctant to pray about. Now that you know that prayer is also a weapon for contending, make the decision today to start boldly praying for it from this point forward. 


Day 14: Sunday, January 24

  • “…and it will be done for you.” – Faith
  • Knowing God can do something & knowing He will do something are two very different things. Matthew 7:11 says, “If you, then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!” Our God is a good Father, & He IS willing to give good gifts to His children if we will simply ask!
  • For today’s prayer focus, take some time to listen to a worship song that personally speaks to you & never fails to remind you that God is a good Father. Need some ideas? Maybe “Good Good Father” by Chris Tomlin, “Reckless Love” by Cory Asbury, or “Way Maker” by Leeland. As you spend this time worshiping in God’s presence, trust that your faith in His follow-through will be strengthened.

Day 15: Monday, January 25

“As the Father has loved me…” – Unity

  • Leading up to His arrest & crucifixion, Jesus said an incredible prayer for all believers. In John 17:20-23, He prayed for complete unity among His followers, that we may be one just as He & the Father are one. A trademark of the world today is division; it seems to be everywhere you look – even within the body of Christ. However, we are called to complete unity in Jesus – a unity that is so distinctively divine that it makes the world do a double-take.
  • For today’s prayer focus, recognize that it is often our very own pride that not only contributes to division but also continues to add fuel to it; Proverbs 13:10a points to this being true, saying: “Where there is strife, there is pride..” In light of this, ask the Holy Spirit to level your pride & your desire to be right for the purpose of being humbly unified under the Truth, so that we may be a worthy witness of unity to the world.

Day 16: Tuesday, January 26

“…Father has loved” – Love of the Father

  • God is & always will be the greatest Father to ever exist; He is the actual epitome of love. To know Him is to know love in its purest form. The greatest examples we have of His love for us are in Jesus & the cross. We were dead in our sins & deserved for it to stay that way; though He owed us nothing, He gave us absolutely everything through sending Jesus to pay the price for our sins!
  • For today’s prayer focus, contemplate how God’s love for all humanity was made evident through Jesus. Ask the Holy Spirit to also bring other moments to light in which God has uniquely expressed His love for you throughout your life.


Day 17: Wednesday, January 27

“…so have I loved you.” – Love for others

  • The world was fully introduced to the love of God through Jesus, & as those who have accepted this love, it isn’t supposed to meet a dead end in us! Our standard for loving others is how Jesus has loved us. We are to be channels through which that same love continues to introduce itself to the people who make up our world.
  • For today’s prayer focus, fully commit to being a channel that God’s love can flow through to those around you. Ask Him to give you a heart that most desires to make His love known.

Day 18: Thursday, January 28

“Now remain in my love.” – Active, not passive nature of love 

  • As believers, it is not possible to passively remain in God’s love. Why? Because we are being constantly bombarded by the current of the culture, & if we aren’t actively swimming against it, we are being swept away by it. As a result, we must make conscious decisions & efforts to remain in God’s love by resisting the ways of the world.
  • For today’s prayer focus, ask the Holy Spirit to show you ways to be intentional in actively remaining in God’s love. Set your eyes on Jesus, & ask Him to reveal to you moments of His love that you may be missing.

Day 19: Friday, January 29

“If you keep my commands…” – Obedience

  • Here we see another example of a conditional statement. So often, we view obedience as a religious burden rather than the opportunity to be more firmly rooted in God’s love. Through this verse, we see that the fully alive life we were created for is on the other side of our obedience.
  • For today’s prayer focus, consider how you have viewed obedience. Have you seen it as more of a religious burden in your life rather than a way to remain in & be closer to God’s love for you? Ask the Holy Spirit to give you a heart that hungers & thirsts to do the will of God.

Day 20: Saturday, January 30

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you…” – Joy

  • It’s been said that happiness is temporary, but joy is eternal. The “joy” the world offers is a counterfeit at best; it is often based on circumstances & possessions, while the joy that Jesus offers is based on something infinitely more secure: as our circumstances may change & possessions may be lost, He remains the same forever. Because of that, we can have true joy – His joy – no matter what we may be facing!
  • For today’s prayer focus, examine how you may be trying to find joy in the wrong places. Invite the Holy Spirit to help you redirect your focus from those things to Jesus so that you may experience true joy in Him.

Day 21: Sunday, January 31

…and that your joy may be complete.” – Wholeness

  • Batman without Robin, macaroni without cheese, Tuesdays without tacos – these are just a few examples of things that aren’t complete without each other. In the same way, our joy cannot be complete apart from the joy that Jesus offers, & this joy can only be found in being obedient to His commands.
  • For today’s prayer focus, recognize in your heart how joy without Jesus is impossible. As this time of fasting comes to an end, ask the Holy Spirit to continue growing the seeds that have been planted in you into a beautiful harvest.

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