One of the events I inherited as a first-time youth minister 20 years ago was the 30 Hour Famine. This event challenged teenagers (and those adults who worked with them) to give up eating from noon on Friday to 6 PM on Saturday. The youth would gather together for a lock-in at the church and encourage one another through this fast as we learned about hunger epidemics around the world. Fasting for 30 hours was not easy, but it was worth it. The event always ended with a wonderful celebration on Saturday at 6 PM when we would break our fast together.
Fasting is a spiritual discipline that reminds us of the transformation that occurs when we deny ourselves of something and put our trust in God. We see fasting taught in the Jesus’ sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7) and the ancient Jewish faith required a day of fasting in acknowledgement of the day of atonement (Leviticus 23:27). This was a day on the Jewish calendar when the people were to be in sorrow and affliction as atonement for their sins. In the 18th century, John Wesley sought to revive the practice of fasting when he urged early Methodists to fast on Wednesdays and Fridays.
Fasting must center on God as it reveals those things that control us. Fasting also reminds us that we are sustained “by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,” (Matthew 4:4). It provides a rhythm and balance to our life and allows our cravings to not overcome us.
TRY IT THIS WEEK: Choose one day this week to fast. From the time you wake up in the morning until sunset, don’t eat or drink anything but water. I have chosen next Thursday as my day of fasting. If you have never fasted before, give up one meal or a particular food or snack. As you fast this week, I want to invite you and encourage you to be in prayer. If you do not know what to pray, pray for Easter at our church and those who might come and hear the Good News of Jesus’ resurrection.
I hope you have a great weekend and I look forward to being with you in worship on Sunday at 8:45 and 11:00!
Together with you,
P.S. We are only FOUR weeks from Easter! I hope you are making plans to join us for one of our Easter services on Sunday, April 21 (see below). As we get closer to Easter, be thinking about who in your circle you can invite to celebrate Easter with us at Royston. Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing with you some chilling facts and stories about why it is important to invite someone to be with you in worship — on Easter and every Sunday.