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Pursuit 21: Launching the New Year Right

Launching the New Year

A new year has begun! Have you thought about the desires you have for the coming year? Perhaps there are things you’d like to see happen in your life personally … or in your family … or on your job.

There is something you can do these first weeks of January that will set the course for what God does in your life all year long—something that will bring you closer to God and release His wisdom, guidance, and blessing in every area of your life.

I’m not talking about a new year’s resolution. Resolutions are hollow, powerless commitments.

No, what I’m talking about is a Biblical fast. It will transform your life and your year from the inside out!

Just as beginning our day with prayer sets the course for the rest of the day and affects anything that might happen, so beginning the year with a fast affects our inner relationship with God and sets the course for the rest of the year.

There is no better way to launch the new year than with a Biblical fast. This is why Shades of Grace has an event each January called Pursuit 21 — twenty-one days of fasting and prayer.

Seeking First

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness…” (Matthew 6:33).

The beginning of the new year is an excellent time to commit to a season of prayer and fasting such as Pursuit 21.

  • “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).
  • When you fast…your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:17-18).

When we give God the the first of our year in prayer and fasting, we reap the harvest all year long. During April, May, June … and even into December, we receive blessings that wouldn’t be ours if we hadn’t dedicated the first to God in January with a fast.

There is no better way to launch the new year than with a Biblical fast. When we give God the the first of our year in prayer and fasting, we reap the harvest all year long.

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Following Jesus’ Pattern

After Jesus called his disciples, He gave them their first public teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. In it He explained to them the kingdom of God—its laws and life. He provided the pattern by which each of us is to live as a child of God. This pattern mentions three specific responsibilities: giving, praying, and fasting.

2When you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do …

5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites…. 6But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door…. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites… 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

Matthew 6:2, 5, 6, 16-18

In this passage Jesus said, “When you give…”, “When you pray” and “When you fast.” He made it obvious that fasting is to be a regular part of the Christian life. He did not say “if you fast” but “when you fast.” We are to give as much focus and priority to fasting as we do to giving and praying.

Jesus doesn’t expect us, His modern day disciples, to do something He didn’t do. Jesus fasted. He began his earthly ministry with a 40-day fast.

If the Word of God—the One who spoke this world into being—found fasting necessary in God’s economy, then who are we to try to live by any other standard? Who are we to think that we can attempt to live without it? In his book Fasting, Jentezen Franklin asks a poignant question:

“If Jesus could have accomplished all He came to do without fasting, why would He fast? The Son of God fasted because He knew there were supernatural things that could only be released that way. How much more should fasting be a common practice in our lives.” [1]

Jesus said in John 13,

”You address me as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am…I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do…If you understand what I’m telling you, act like it—and live a blessed life” (MSG).

Jesus Counted on Us Fasting

Jesus planned on you and me fasting as part of the lifestyle of a disciple—just as giving and praying are to be a regular part of our lifestyle.

When Jesus was questioned as to why His disciples did not fast, as John the Baptist’s disciples fasted and the Pharisees fasted, Jesus replied,

“Can you make the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast“ (Luke 5:34-35, emphasis added).

“In those days they will fast,” Jesus said. He did not say:

  • “In those days they might fast,” or
  • “In those days they will fast when it suits their schedule,” or
  • “In those days they will fast when it is comfortable,” or
  • “In those days they will fast when they feel spiritually significant enough,” or
  • “In those days, the super spiritual will fast—the pastors, church leaders, Sunday School teachers and ministry heads.”

No, Jesus was speaking of all who would claim to be followers of Christ. He made no exclusions. After He ascended to Heaven, we would fast.

If you are a Christian, a modern day disciple and follower of Christ, God expects you to fast. Not just some of us. Not just the spiritual leaders—but all of us. God expects you to fast.

To See the Face of God

Fasting is a secret that many Christians are missing. Jentezen Franklin writes:

“When I feel myself growing dry spiritually, when I don’t sense that cutting-edge anointing, or when I need a fresh encounter with God, fasting is the secret key that unlocks heaven’s door and slams shut the gates of hell. The discipline of fasting releases the anointing, the favor, and the blessing of God in the life of a Christian.” [2]

Fasting helps us focus on God. When practiced rightly, fasting shifts our attention away from temporal preoccupations and places it where it rightfully ought to be—the face of God.

Jehoshaphat proclaimed a fast for his people so they could once again see the face of God. Similarly, there are times when we must proclaim a fast so that we can once again see the face of God.

When we combine prayer with fasting, it clears away the clutter in our daily lives that distract us and keep us from deeper intimacy with Christ.

The things that rob us of intimacy with Him aren’t always evil things. Often they’re good things that God has given us to enjoy—they’re His gifts. John Piper writes:

“It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for heaven, but endless nibbling at the table of the world.… The greatest adversary of love to God is not his enemies but his gifts. And the most deadly appetites are not for the poison of evil, but for the simple pleasures of earth. For when these replace an appetite for God himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable, and almost incurable.”

When we think of fasting, we think of hunger … deprivation … not getting to fill our stomachs with good things. But foregoing these good things allows us to be filled with something far superior—with God and His righteousness!

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6).

Deliberate Decision

Fasting is a deliberate decision, not the result of a random whim or mood.

We don’t wait and decide to tithe after we’ve received a paycheck, paid all our bills, and spent money on frivolous things. No, we determine in advance that we are going to tithe.  We know that when we receive a paycheck, we’ll give the first ten percent to God.

We don’t wait until tomorrow morning to decide, depending on how we feel, whether or not we will have a time of personal devotion and prayer. We know that scripture exhorts us to seek God first. So we set our alarm and wake early to pray before beginning the day’s activities. Prayer is on our agenda for the next morning.

If we are going to treat fasting the same as we do giving and praying, we will determine in advance that we are going to fast. We will plan toward it.

Don’t Worry: God Will Give You His Ability

As we begin this new year, I urge you to prayerfully consider giving God twenty-one days of fasting and prayer. Respond obediently to what the Holy Spirit tells you. If He leads you to fast, reply with a simple, “Yes sir.” Don’t worry first about how you are to fast…or whether you can make it twenty-one days. God wants your obedient reply. He will give you His ability to follow through.

“For God is at work within you, helping you want to obey him, and then helping you do what he wants” (Philippians 2:13, TLB).

Regardless of whether you’ve fasted before, I believe the Holy Spirit will enable you to fast in some manner, either a partial fast, or a full fast, (or a combination of both) for these twenty-one days. Just begin seeking God’s will and respond in obedience…trusting that He will give you the ability. And He will!!

All He wants now is your simple commitment to obey—made only in faith. God will honor your obedience and trust in Him. He will give you wisdom, direction, strength and grace for the fast.

A Personal Invitation

I invite you to join me in Pursuit 21. There is nothing like this powerful, unrivaled spiritual launching pad for the new year.

I believe God wants to do something special in your life that will not occur apart from fasting and prayer.

“This kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:21).

I’ve already begun praying for you, that you will hear the Holy Spirit’s voice as to how He wants you to fast.

I’m excited for what God has in store for us individually and corporately as we begin the year with fasting and prayer! Join me in the pursuit and let’s experience God’s promised reward.

“…for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

If you are fasting with us, please take a moment to let me know. I want to pray for you specifically. As you email, please let me know your requests and reasons for fasting so that I might join you in prayer.

TweetablesMore Tweetables

  • There is no better way to launch the new year than with a Biblical fast. When we give God the the first of our year in #prayer and #fasting, we reap the harvest all year long. Click to tweet Tweet
  • Just as beginning the day with prayer sets the course for the day, so beginning the year with a Biblical fast affects our inner relationship with God and sets the course for the rest of the year. Click to tweet Tweet
  • When Jesus gave his disciples their first public teaching, He provided the pattern by which each of us is to live as a child of God. This pattern mentions three responsibilities: giving, praying and fasting. Click to tweet Tweet
  • “If Jesus could have accomplished all He came to do without fasting, why would He fast? The Son of God fasted because He knew there were supernatural things that could only be released that way.” ~ @Jentezen // How much more should we fast? Click to tweet Tweet
  • Fasting helps us focus on God. It shifts our attention away from temporal preoccupations and places it where it ought to be—the face of God. Fasting clears out the distractions in our daily lives that keep us from deeper intimacy with Him. Click to tweet Tweet

Helpful Links

I’ve included a list of helpful links below, including a link to a page outlining the types of fasts.

LINKS:

THREE ARTICLES TO HELP YOU PREPARE:

However the Holy Spirit leads you to fast, be sure to incorporate time in prayer. Simply going without food is a diet, not a fast. Fasting is consecration and separation unto the Lord. Make extra time to turn to Him in prayer and the Word.

The Holy Spirit will guide you and enable you—don’t worry about how He you will make it through. Once you commit to fast, God sees the desire of your heart and provides you with the grace and strength to follow through!

Natalie

 

_________________________

  1. Jentezen Franklin, Fasting, (Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 2008), 14
  2. Ibid., 4

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, Shades of Grace will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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