Today at worship, Pastor Andrew called for a day of prayer and fasting to ask God to send us a worship leader and to use Oakland to do something amazing in Cleveland. Specifically, we’re asking all who are able are asked to fast from dinner on Sunday (7/5) to dinner on Monday (7/6). Those available are invited to an impromptu time of worship tomorrow night at 6PM, where we will break our fast with leftover pancakes and sausages. If you cannot make it, simply enjoy dinner tomorrow night with extra gratitude.
Strictly speaking that means not eating at breakfast and lunch tomorrow, though you may drink, in order to make time for prayer and scripture study. Remember the goal is not to “obey the rules” but to increase my mindfulness of God and my attentiveness to his plans. So those who cannot fast or choose not to, may choose some other way to encourage themselves to pray more throughout the day, such as eating simple meals, wearing a rubber band on their wrist, setting hourly timers on their phones, etc.
Fasting is not as common as it once was and so can be little known and often misunderstood. So let me finish this post with a few quick tips and then a link to a sermon I preached a while back on fasting.
1. The goal is Jesus – we do not fast to punish ourselves or to earn God’s favor. We fast because we need Jesus more than food, and this reminds us of that.
2. Let hunger be a call to prayer – every time you feel hungry, start to pray. At meal times, when you would be eating, find some quiet space to read the Bible and pray. I find it especially helpful to write my prayers as letters to God, so that my hands are busy and my mind is focused (cause hunger can be a distraction). Pray specifically for a worship leader at Oakland, the Leaders at Oakland, Pastor Andrew, pray for families you know at Oakland, pray for members of your family, pray for people in your neighborhood, pray for neighborhoods, schools, and other churches in Cleveland by name. Pray for our nation. Ask God to use Oakland to increase our love for Jesus and Jesus’ fame in Cleveland.
3. Fasting, doesn’t change God, it makes us more sensitive to God. So while praying spend sometime in silence listening to God. Sometimes I close my eyes and just listen to the sounds around me, the pictures in my head, and the words I just read in the Bible. It is amazing what will stand out. If you get distracted easily, try “spiritual doodling.”
4. Drink water and juice or gatorade through the day. I find these taste better, when I am fasting.
If you want more information about what Fasting is and isn’t, how to do it and why we do it, HERE is a sermon I preached a few years ago. If you want even more information about this and other spiritual disciplines, I strongly recommend Richard Foster’s book, Celebration of Discipline (it is AWESOME).