As Lent approaches, many of us are deciding what we are going to give up for Lent. I love this tradition shared by many different church traditions during Lent. But sometimes it seems like Lent is treated as a second stab at a New Year’s resolution. Fasting for Lent is supposed to be something very different than a resolution for self-improvement. In the Bible, fasting is first and foremost to honor and glorify God. As John Wesley once declared, “Let fasting be done unto the Lord with our eye singly fixed on Him. Let our intention herein be this, and this alone, to glorify our Father which is in heaven.” When we fast, we are declaring that God is more important to us than anything else. The 40 days of Lent are set aside by the Church as a way to prepare and ready our hearts for the feast of Easter. Jesus clearly taught his disciples that they should fast (Matthew 6:16, 9:15). We know that the ancient Israelites fasted both personally (Deuteronomy 9:9; 1 Kings 19:8; Daniel 10:3) and corporately (Leviticus 23:27; Joel 2:15; 2 Chronicles 10:1-4). But many do not know that the early Church fasted personally (Acts 9:9) and corporately (Acts 13:2).
Today I am calling our church to a corporate fast for the season of Lent. Each week we will focus on fasting something specific together. At the beginning of each week, I will offer specific resources and guidance for our fast. The goal is not to have accountability or to see who can keep the most fasts. The goal is always to decrease ourselves and increase our awareness of God. Below are the fasts for each week of Lent.
Week 1: Fast social media. (If you don’t use social media, think of a way that you tend to kill time on a device – maybe a game you play on your phone or computer.)
Week 2: Fast alcohol. (If you don’t drink alcohol, you can substitute this with caffeine or some other beverage/food you regularly consume.)
– Spend time when you would be drinking to instead pray to be filled with the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18)
Week 3: Fast complaining.
– Instead of complaining, take that time to give thanks for what you do have.
Week 4: Fast news. (If you don’t regularly read or watch the news, you can replace this with sports or Netflix or some other media you regularly consume.)
– Use the time you save to tell the good news.
Week 5: Fast yelling. (If you aren’t the yelling type, maybe you can give up passive-aggressive behavior or speaking ill of others.)
– Use the times when you want to yell to praise and build up others.
Week 6: Fast food. (If you can’t fast from food for medical reasons, fast again from the one that was hardest.)
– Use the time when you would be eating to meditate on Scripture.