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10 Reasons to Fast this Lent

10 Reasons to Fast this Lent

The season of Lent is upon us! A time for preparing ourselves on the journey to the Cross and Resurrection of Christ through repentance and fasting.

by Thomas Johnson on February 22, 2023

Ten Reasons for Bethany People to Fast this Lent

The season of Lent is upon us! This season is a time for preparing ourselves on the journey to the Cross and Resurrection of Christ through repentance and fasting. While fasting is not as common as it once was, we still believe it has value for us today as we seek to draw near to Jesus during this season.

If you want help figuring out how to fast during Lent, sign up for our Fasting Email Group. If you aren’t sure if fasting is for you, here are the top 10 reasons why you should consider fasting during this Lenten season:

  1. Come on…it’s Lent. Fasting has been a standard practice during the season of Lent for centuries. If other followers of Jesus have benefited from fasting during this season in the past, why would we not take advantage of this opportunity to get the most out of this Lenten season? Fasting during Lent prepares us for deeper celebration and feasting at Easter.
  2. Everyone else is doing it. Ok…that’s not entirely true. But fasting does put you in good company with people like Moses, King David, Elijah, Esther, Daniel, Paul the apostle, Augustine, Martin Luther, John Wesley, and…oh yeah…this guy named JESUS. You don’t have to be a spiritual giant to practice fasting. But if you do fast, you are in good company with people who wanted to follow God with their whole lives.
  3. Fasting helps us feast on the word of God. Fasting is a time to nourish the soul instead of just making sure our stomachs are full. A common practice during fasting is reading and meditating on Scripture. When we fast, we learn to delight in God’s word more than we delight in food.
  4. Fasting can be an act of repentance. We see a picture of this in Nehemiah 9:1, as the Israelites fast and repent to renew their covenant with God. This calls to mind the words from 2 Chronicles 7:14, “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” Fasting is a way of humbling ourselves and a sign of turning away from sin and towards God (repentance). We all have sin in our lives and need to regularly repent. What an opportunity we have in fasting to turn away from worldly sin and orient our lives towards God each week!
  5. Fasting is a means of grace. John Wesley regularly taught that fasting is one of the ways that we can encounter God’s grace that nourishes us and grows us to become more like Christ. Fasting was a regular practice in early Methodism. John Wesley actually mandated that Methodist preachers had to fast every Wednesday and Friday! If you want to grow like the early Methodists, fasting is a valuable practice.
  6. Fast with your church family. Many people think about fasting as something they do individually. During this season at Bethany, we are inviting everyone to practice fasting together. There is strength in numbers and support in taking up a spiritual practice with your church family. If we want God to grow us together, let us fast together as a community that is following Christ together.
  7. Fasting helps us pray. Fasting and prayer go together. Jesus teaches about fasting in the Sermon on the Mount right after he teaches his disciples to pray. Later on Jesus tells his disciples to fast and pray to be prepared for difficult challenges in their ministry (Matthew 17:21). Prayer is always a key part of fasting. As we focus on growing our prayer lives during this next sermon series, weekly fasting will help you grow even deeper in your prayer practice and can grow your relationship with God.
  8. Fasting is a practice for discernment. Fasting is an intentional act of self-denial that opens us up to God’s will being made known in our lives. As we fast from food (or something else) we can experience increased freedom from our worldly desires. This makes us more open to hearing God’s voice instead of our own, and discerning God’s will instead of our own. Fasting makes us more ready to pray “Thy will be done” (instead of “my will be done”).
  9. Fasting reveals our true hunger. When we fast from food (or technology, or something else) we become more aware of the deep hunger in our lives. Eventually, we begin to see that our hunger for lunch (or Facebook) is small compared with our hunger for being known and loved by God. As we fast, we come to recognize the hunger we have at the core of our being to know God and be known to God. This helps us turn to Jesus as the one who can satisfy us to the utmost.
  10. Fasting helps us experience God’s peace. As we take time to fast and become more intentional to place ourselves in the way of God’s grace, we can expect to have our spiritual senses awakened in new ways. Eventually, we will find the greatest amount of peace in God’s presence with us, rather than food, material goods, or even our plans working out. The goal of fasting is to become more dependent on God for everything in our lives. In this dependency, we are sure to find God’s peace (see Philippians 4:6-7).

So, what do you think? Will you join us in fasting once a week through the season of Lent? This could be a fast from food one day each week. Or if you are not able to fast from food, you could fast from technology, social media, or something else on your fasting day. Whatever you choose to fast from, the goal of this practice is to give up something in order to replace it with prayer and devotion to God. Make sure to sign up for the Fasting Email Group so you can be encouraged and have some guidance through this season. Click here to sign up.

May God draw you deeper into his presence and peace in this season…

In Christ,
Thomas Johnson

Tags: fasting, lent

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