Reflecting on Our Fast
I like to eat, but sometimes not eating is better. This summer our church family (James River Church) fasted together on Wednesdays. Each Wednesday breaking our fast together around the Table of the Lord during our Prayer Service. It was beautiful.
The impetus for our fast was a collective desperation to see God move mightily through this year’s Designed for Life Conference. We knew we needed God’s help. Jesus said that some things only come by prayer and fasting, so we spent three months praying and fasting. We encouraged people to not only fast for the conference, but also to wait on God for specific situations they were walking through. We heard numerous stories of how God worked in the lives of people.
As I reflected on the three months we spent fasting together, I recorded some of the effects I saw that season produce both in the church corporately and in people individually.
Here is (some of) what the fast accomplished…
1. It unified the church. The church was unquestionably unified before the fast ever started, but those weeks brought about an increased unity that was sweeter and deeper.
2. It emboldened people to believe God. One of a Christian’s defining characteristics must be faith, but the reality is that the level of boldness tends to fluctuate. There are times where we find ourselves more often praying, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.” During these months the pendulum swung in the other direction and there was a tangible sense of increased confidence.
3. It enlarged our expectancy for answered prayer. This may seem indistinguishable from number two, but I see it as a result of bold faith (but not a foregone conclusion). Christians believe God delights in responding to the prayers of his people, but at times we all go through seasons in which our prayer lacks a passionate expectancy. This fast produced that.
4. It clarified mission. Corporately the church’s mission is exceedingly clear, but often individuals within the church don’t possess a personal clarity about their God-given mission inside the church and beyond the four walls.
5. It increased our appreciation for The Table. There is something breathtaking about corporate fasting coupled with corporate feasting. Our fast produced a thankfulness at the Table of Thanksgiving that was unique and awe inspiring. I highly recommend it.
6. It redirected our affections God-ward. Human beings live life according to their loves. When a person becomes a Christian the Holy Spirit gives them new affections, yet the temptation for every Christian is to allow our affections to gravitate back to the loves of our old nature. Through our time of fasting together, God realigned our affections toward him.
These six observations along with all of the other answers to prayer we have already seen are no doubt the tip of the iceberg. God certainly did much more that we have not yet seen. This weekend through the Designed for Life Conference I am confident that we are going to witness some pretty incredible stuff.