Prayer & Fasting Calendar
Sunday 5th April to Saturday 11th April
Fasting remains one of the most challenging but spiritually rewarding Christian disciplines. Over Holy Week let us join together in prayer and fast as a diocese every day from 6am to 6pm. Our prayers will focus on our personal lives, our diocese, parishes, communities and our country.
HOW TO FAST
Fasting is a central part of Lent. Traditionally it includes reducing our food intake. We fast to allow our physical hunger to remind us of our spiritual hunger – our longing and desire for God. The purpose of this time is to turn our attention to both God and others in prayer.
- Decide therefore whether you would like to fast from food or something else that will help you connect with your hunger for God.
- Determine to set aside a time for prayer and read scripture. Your prayer time could be early in the morning, at lunchtime or in the evening.
- Alternatively, you may want to pray together with your church community or friend/s at a specific time and place or with your family and spend time in prayer before family mealtimes.
- If you are fasting a meal (or two meals) be aware of the weakness, tiredness or irritability that one may feel. Turn that to pray and keep hydrated. Lighten your workload if possible.
- Please consult your doctor to ensure it is safe to fast. Fast as you can, not as you can’t.
Over these seven days of Holy Week, please also think through how you might be a blessing to others since acts of mercy and kindness towards the poor are an important part of fasting.
Some suggestions include:
- If you are abstaining from food, then give the food, or the cost of your meals to the needy.
- If you are fasting watching TV or Netflix, gift that time to a friend and pray with them.
- If fasting from chocolate, buy it as a gift for someone else . Be as creative in how you bless others as God leads you.
All of these are, of course, vital and are key to abiding in Jesus, but over the last 12 months or so, we have discovered that fasting brings both a new level of blessing and battle, as we partake in it intentionally, both individually and as a body.
Fasting is voluntarily abstaining from food for spiritual purposes. It is one way that God himself set up for his people to humble themselves before him. In the old testament it was common to call a fast, to set aside time to seek him in new and desperate ways – think the Ninevites, Esther, or Jehosophat. It’s also something that Jesus did, and his disciples continued, as they sought God for new power, and for wisdom.
Yet we often imagine its reserved for the super spiritual amongst us. At Cobden-Runanga we’ve discovered it is together ordinary and extraordinary, needs no special equipment, and (unless you’re medically compromised) is do-able by everyday disciples.
Aware of some intensely challenging situations in the pastoral life of our parish, the Lord introduced us to corporate fasting as a body of believers. The message ‘we need to fast’ came concurrently to a number on the leadership team, while working through the story of Esther. And so it came to pass.
Now a recurrent happening three-monthly, we set aside a 24-hour period aligned to the Sabbath, to seek the Lord simultaneously about the issues he sets before us. A prayer guide is provided as a starter and partakers pause at the top of each waking hour from 6pm Friday to 6pm Saturday, when we gather for praise, sharing, and the best communal meal ever!
We’ve found it joyful, painful and sometimes just plain hard work. We have rejoiced together in answered prayer (in healing, provision and restoration of relationship) and agonised together as we wrestle for our prodigals. We’ve had new direction and insight yet have shared tears over the brokenness uncovered in our lives and in those we love.
Our top tips, included in our prayer guide, are these:
Remember what it’s all about and keep the main thing the main thing.
- Have a light but protein and - fibre rich meal before you start.
- Drink lots of water – it helps keep headaches at bay, and your brain from shrinking!
- Set an alarm to remind you to pray – it’ll help with distractions.
- Use your hunger pangs as a prompt to pray.
- Use the prayer guide, but don’t be enslaved by it – go with Holy Spirit tangents.
- Expect physical and spiritual opposition – keep your desire for God the main focus.
- If you start to feel awful, try some sweetened herbal tea.
- If you feel horrendous, eat.
- Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t make the full time. Whatever you manage is awesome!