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Fasting and Prayer

In this season our Lead Minister, Stu Cameron, has called Newlife church to 25 days of prayer. During this season we’re also being encouraged to fast, so that we can draw closer to God and not only discern God’s will for ourselves, but also our church. As we do, we realise that it would be good to shed some light on what fasting is biblically. 

The Bible presents fasting as something that is good, profitable, and beneficial. The book of Acts records believers fasting before they made important decisions (Acts 13:214:23). Fasting and prayer are often linked together (Luke 2:375:33). Too often, the focus of fasting is on the practicalities of limiting/eliminating our food intake. Instead, the purpose of fasting should be to take your eyes off the things of this world to focus completely on God. Fasting can help us gain a new spiritual insights and deepen our reliance on God.

Although fasting in Scripture is almost always a fasting from food, there are other ways to fast. Anything given up temporarily in order to focus our attention on God can be considered a fast (1 Corinthians 7:1-5). For instance, you could fast from watching TV at night and instead spend that time in prayer and reading your bible, seeking direction from God. Social media is another ‘everyday thing’ you can fast from. I have taken Facebook off my phone, so now every time I would have checked Facebook, I pray and spend that time talking to God and it has been so beautiful setting my attention on him throughout the day.  

Fasting should be limited to a set time, especially when fasting from food. Extended periods of time without eating can be harmful to the body. Fasting is not intended to punish the flesh, but to redirect attention to God. Fasting should not be considered a “dieting method” either. The purpose of a biblical fast is not to lose weight, but rather to gain deeper fellowship with God. Anyone can fast, but some may not be able to fast from food for medical reasons (diabetics, for example). You may want to fast just one meal a day and spend that time in prayer or you can fast for a whole day or more, that is up to you. Everyone can temporarily give up something in order to set time aside to draw closer to God.

By taking our eyes off the things of this world, we can more successfully turn our attention to Christ. Fasting is not a way to get God to do what we want. Fasting changes us, not God. Fasting is not a way to appear more spiritual than others. Fasting is to be done with a spirit of humility and a joyful attitude. Jesus says in Matthew 6:16-18, “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

As we fast, please pray for the Uniting Church, its leaders and its congregations across Australia. Pray for Newlife church – that over these 25 days we would hear the voice of God and be led by the Holy Spirit in truth and love and draw closer to Him in relationship. Pray for the elders, ministry team and staff of Newlife – for strength, peace and grace. Pray for our Lead Minister, Stu Cameron, that he would be loved and supported by us all and that Gods Holy Spirit would rest on him and anoint him for such a time as this to lead Newlife and others in the power of the Holy Spirit in truth, love and grace.

Scott Wrigley

Services Pastor Newlife Robina