Lent 2023 Guide to Fasting
The following will provide you scriptures to read on the topic of fasting. Some ideas for prayer. And finally, guidelines and suggestions for fasting, and alternatives to fasting from food.
We are not obligated to fast. We are invited to fast by Jesus (Matthew 6:16) because fasting is an opportunity to experience blessing and growth.
Scriptures about Fasting:
Daniel 9:1-3 ff
Joel 1:13-15, 2:12-17,
If you have never prayed much, give yourself to dedicated, quiet prayer the next 40 days. Set a time, set a place, get a journal, and start talking to God. You can’t beat the prayer he taught his disciples…
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours
now and for ever. Amen.
We have the #imagesoflent23 scripture readings and “word of the day” for meditation, journaling and artistic reflection.
We have “Today” devotionals available.
You can also find many wonderful bible reading plans and devotionals on the YouVersion Bible App.
Your fasting may be tied into your prayer and bible reading. You’ll have to give up some time, a piece of your day, to get into the word and pray. It might mean giving up some sleep to wake up a half hour earlier. It might mean giving up a 15 minute coffee break in the middle of the day. It might mean giving the last part of your day to God instead of Netflix or Wordle. If you do this you are positioning yourself for profound spiritual growth and transformation.
Types of Fasting
Complete Fast- This fast calls for drinking only liquids, typically water with light juices as an option. Typical only done for a 24-48 hours, unless experienced.
Selective Fast- This type of fast involves removing certain elements from a diet: meat, sweets, bread or alcohol are all common selective fasts.
Intermittent Fast- Abstaining from eating any type of food for a specific time of the day, such as 6:00 am to 3:00 pm, or from sunup to sundown.
Here are a few suggestions for alternatives to fasting from food:
1. Give up something from your home everyday to bless someone else. The jacket you don’t wear anymore. The book collecting dust on your shelf. The kids clothes your kids outgrew a decade ago. Give something up, and bless someone else. As you de-clutter your life you will find space has been created for the Spirit to fill.
2. Give up driving and walk. Force yourself to slow down the next 40 days and bike to work or school. Just get out of your car, get on your feet, or your bike, get out in the creation. Some days will be sunny, and life will be great. Some days will be cold and rainy, and you will suffer, good. You’ll slow down. You’ll think more. You’ll clear your head. You’ll see things you don’t normally see. You’ll notice neighbors and things in the community that could lead to connections, relationships, opportunities.
3. Unplug. Give up electronics, or social media, or movies. Just unplug and stop looking at screens and starting looking at reality. And remember, every Sunday is a day to break your fast, so you can binge after church each Sunday!
4. OR, if you can’t give up your online life, leverage it. Post your bible reading everyday in Lent. Post picture of your prayer corner. Post an invitation to worship. Bring Jesus into your online life and create some social accountability, but also some witness to the world, for Jesus.
5. Of course you can go with the now standard: give up a luxury. Give up sleeping on your bed and sleep on the ground, for the son of God had no where to rest his head. Give up shoes, and walk barefoot. If the sacrifice costs you, then great! I know a woman who gives up mirrors for Lent. She so wants her life to be about Jesus for Lent that she has decided to not even look at herself. Fasting is a way to practice suffering. Suffering produces perseverance, and perseverance produces a stronger faith in Jesus!
And finally, Serve
Of course you can serve in the church. Help with a service. Volunteer with the kids. Help with the facilities. But you can get creative. If you are giving away something each day, your service will naturally flow as you have to drop if off to a person in need or a thrift store. You might take a meal to a person in need. You might invite someone over for dinner and games (yes, serving people can actually be fun!).
One final thought:
Give $1 each day of Lent.
The things we pay for, we care for.
You can pay each day for your time with God.
Take a bill, slip it into an envelope, and get to it.
Or you could pay up front.
Invest your $40 right at the start.
Then you’ll be like, “I already paid to spend some time with God today, I’m just throwing my money away if I don’t do it!”