How We Fast
By Fullerton Free | March 4, 2021
Everyone feels hunger and only food and drink can fulfill that need. But what does it mean to have spiritual hunger? When we fast, we recognize that we need more than just food to sustain us. We hunger and desire for God Himself. In fasting, we take time to stop satisfying our own desires to crave more of Christ, to appeal to Him, intercede for others, and control our flesh. Fasting is taking time to displace our natural, physical hungers and desire more of God and what He wants. Below we have some resources that we hope will be an encouragement to you as you practice the discipline of fasting this week.
To encourage us to practice the fasting discipline, we asked some of our FF family to share with us how they fast. May you be encouraged by the ways they practice this discipline and maybe even be inspired to practice in a similar way. No matter what, our prayer is that you would take time listening to God, diving deeper into your relationship with Him as we practice this discipline together.
“Fasting hasn’t been a consistent practice of mine over the years, but for one three-month period I chose to fast every Monday—I had dinner Sunday night and then dinner again on Monday night. I often took a prayer walk during my lunch break on those Mondays. And I was surprised how many Sunday afternoons I’d find myself looking forward to Monday, to starting off the work week intentionally engaging with God in a different way than usual and to learning in the smallest way what hunger means and what it means to feed on God’s word and time with Him. Life is different now than it was then, but maybe that’s the perfect invitation to return to a rhythm of fasting.” -Kristen Hartman
“Fasting is telling my body “you are not in control.” I live in a time when everything my flesh wants I can give it immediately. If I’m at home and a pang of hunger hits, I go to the fridge or pantry and grab some cookies, chips, diet coke or go to my stash of snacks under the bed. If I’m driving and I see a donut shop, I stop and get an apple fritter – my donut of choice. When I’m walking through Home Depot and see a helpful gadget, I buy it. My body, flesh and desires can dictate my decisions and behavior. But the most important and eternal part of me is not my body – it’s my soul. Fasting reminds me that my soul is what is important – not my body, and I need to feed my soul.” – Dan Crane
“Fasting is hard for me . . . as I am sure it is for everyone (it’s not supposed to be easy)! I tend to make up excuses as to why I can’t do it, but in reality, the times I have fasted have been so rich. I have leaned into God and relied on Him in very tangible ways through those times of fasting. There was one season of my life where I set up a routine/rhythm of fasting and praying specially for my family. It was every Friday, and I fasted from breakfast and lunch. I took that time to pray for my family as I felt those hunger pains, and I remembered my own salvation. God reminded me that He loves and cares about my family more than I do. I have also learned that fasting takes a lot of planning ahead of time since many meals are spent with people. So not only does it take discipline to not give my body what it wants, but I also have to carve it out and commit to it ahead of time. It’s not just going to happen!” -Kelsey Crowe
“I was encouraged by Jeff Lilley’s sermon last Sunday to lean into the discipline of fasting with more energy. My fasting times have typically been shorter, a portion of a day (not just overnight!). Although that likely suggests less commitment on my part, I found that the shorter experience still gave me a chance to focus my thoughts, with a higher likelihood that I’d follow through, and with the hunger pangs providing a steady prompt during those hours. The idea of abiding in Christ suggests an ongoing interaction between us, and allowing my physical feelings during a fast to keep that front and center can be very effective.
I am also encouraged by John Ortberg’s book All The Places To Go, How Will You Know? where the author encourages us not to be afraid to customize our prayer time, our devotional time and our way of communicating with God. What’s great for somebody else may not work as well for you. I recall Jeff also noting that this will look differently for each of us. Last Sunday provided a timely challenge for me to pursue further the benefits of fasting.” -Jeff Key
As Jeff was teaching on Sunday, it reminded me of a non-food-related fast from my past. One December when my kids were small, I remember thinking about the money we had spent on gifts, travel, Christmas decor, and events that month, and wondering what it would be like to take a break from that—for a whole month. We decided to do a spending fast the next month and that January we only spent money on essentials— basically monthly bills and groceries. I remember that month as being hard and sweet at the same time. Hard because we had to say no to things like going out to lunch with friends after church and opting for a home-cooked meal instead. The kids had to forgo getting new toys and even our weekly trips to get ice cream after school on Fridays. But the benefits outweighed the hard parts for sure. We were able to reset our spending habits—giving new thought to the reasons we spend and how we can use our money to best give glory to God, and we also had fun thinking of ways we could use some of the money saved to bless others. Thinking back on this made me think maybe it’s time to try it again! -Jenn Hale