21 Days of Prayer and Fasting
January 8–28, 2024
Monday–Thursday: Live prayer service on every campus from 6:00–6:35 am. Also available live and on-demand online.
Friday–Saturday: Online only
As we head into our annual 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting, we know that many of you have likely never practiced fasting or received much teaching on it. That is okay! We’re so happy you are considering joining us in the fast this year! In this resource, we have attempted to answer some of the common questions people have about fasting and provide you with some helpful, practical steps for fasting. So, let’s dive in!
What is fasting?
Fasting is the spiritual discipline of going without food — or any other regularly enjoyed, good gift from God — for a specified amount of time for a spiritual purpose. Fasting was a common practice in both the Old and New Testaments.
Author and pastor Sam Storms has some helpful insights about fasting:
- Fasting is always motivated by deep desire. Fasting is not the suppression of desire, but the pursuit of it. We fast because we want something more than what we are giving up. If one suppresses his desire for food, it is only because he has a greater and more intense desire for something else.
- Thus, one can reasonably say that fasting is feasting. Fasting isn’t about not eating food. It’s about feeding on the fullness of God.
- Fasting is not something you do for God. Fasting is an appeal to God for him to do everything for you. Thus, fasting is not an act of willpower but a declaration of weakness. It is a confession of our utter dependence on God.
- Fasting is not a statement that food and other things are bad, but that God is better!
Because fasting works! God says in Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart.” James writes in James 4:8, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” When we seek God with extra fervor through fasting, we will find Him, and He will minister to our souls. Also, we fast because it is a powerful weapon in spiritual warfare.
Jesus assumed that his followers would fast. In Matthew 6:16, He did not say “if you fast,” but “when you fast.” In Luke 5:33-35, Jesus taught that his disciples would fast when he was no longer physically present on earth after his ascension into heaven. This is the period we live in; thus, it is appropriate for us to fast.
Here are some common reasons why Christians fast:
- petitioning God to save someone
- petitioning God for freedom from a certain sin or addiction
- petitioning God to reconcile and restore a relationship
- asking God to move in a specific way
- asking God for guidance on a matter
- when grieving over loss, heartache, or sin
- when repenting over sin
- to get out of a spiritual rut
- to experience greater intimacy with God
How to Fast
Begin by praying for God to give you guidance on what he is leading you to fast from. Then choose a specified amount of time for the fast. During your fast, use the time that you would typically devote to whatever you are fasting from to pursue God through prayer, worship, and the reading of his word.
Types of Fasts
Complete Food Fast: Abstaining from all foods and liquids except water. (It is never recommended to go without water!) If you have never done a complete fast, you may want to work up to it by practicing a partial fast first. From there, starting with a one-day fast is recommended, and you can build up your ability to fast for longer durations over time.
Partial Food Fast: Abstaining from specific types of food and drink ( e.g., alcohol, sugar/sweets, or meat), or fasting for portions of the day (e.g., fasting from sunrise to sunset).
Soul Fast: This form of fasting isn’t about food, but rather about cutting out certain activities from life. Some examples of things that Christians cut out during a fast:
- social media or other smartphone apps
- TV/video games
- secular music
- sexual activity (the Bible specifically mentions fasting from sexual activity in 1 Corinthians 7:5, but it gives some parameters. It should be agreed upon by both spouses, and it should be for a “limited time.”)
We are full of anticipation for all that God is going to do in our church through this time of prayer and fasting! If you have any other questions that this resource has not touched on, or if you would like some pastoral guidance, feel free to reach out to any of our c|Life pastors. We are happy to assist you in any way!
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
— Ephesians 3:20-21