The Session of Iron Works has called the congregation to a time of fasting and prayer, seeking our God for the work only He can do. We have learned in the sermon series on prayer that God wants us to pursue Him in prayer, to give Him no rest until He establishes the work of our hands for the glory of His name and sake of His kingdom.
What part does fasting play in prayer? We often find fasting explicitly coupled with prayer. Nehemiah, in a book filled with prayer short and long, begins with a response of prayer and fasting. (Neh. 1:4). The psalmist speaks of “afflicting himself with fasting” (Ps. 35:13). Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, proclaimed a fast as part of his leading the people to seek the Lord in the face of severe threat (2 Chron. 20:3). Barnabas and Saul were commissioned for their missionary journey by being set apart through fasting and prayer (Acts 13:2-3).
In His teaching on prayer in Matthew 6, our Lord Jesus includes instruction on fasting. As He did with prayer, He warns against fasting for the approval of men. In that teaching, Jesus assumes His disciples will fast. He doesn’t say “if you fast” but “when you fast.”
But what is fasting? Here is a brief description from my booklet, Why Do We Pray?
Fasting is deprivation (ordinarily from food) that empties us of self, infuses us with humility and deepens a profound sense of dependency on him who provides us with our sustenance. Fasting earns us nothing. Fasting creates an atmosphere of the heart that helps us to fasten our gaze on God. It sharpens the visual acuity of our faith. It accentuates our spiritual senses, so that we are less distracted and more attracted to this God against those elements that would compete for our attention.
Fasting helps us to pray. Hunger pangs stimulate our prayer and remind of the task at hand. Fasting helps us to focus mentally and spiritually. It establishes us in the mission of our Lord Jesus in which we share: “My food is to do the will of him who sent me.” (Jn. 4:34)
Many of us have had the experience of fasting for blood work, which usually asks for a 12-hour fast. While the method is the same, spiritual fasting emphasizes the waking hours; it capitalizes on hunger pangs and longing for food. The goal of spiritual fasting is not the conclusion (e.g., blood taken). Rather, the goal is communion with God provoked by the fast itself.
How do we fast? We deprive ourselves of food, unless it is unwise for health reasons. Some will drink juices; others will drink only water. For me, I have my morning coffee. I also eat a couple of bites of bread because one of my meds requires it be taken with food.
The Session is asking that we fast and pray from Sunday, September 9 at 7 pm through Monday, September 10. We will conclude our individual time of prayer by coming together for a prayer meeting in IronSpace at 6 pm, after which we will break our fast with a meal together.
Direction for our prayer will be sent out prior to the day.