I’m glad you’re on board for for the 21 Day Fast. People around the world are standing in agreement with Naghmeh Abedini, fasting and praying fervently for her husband Saeed’s release after two years in an Iranian prison. I encourage you to follow her on Facebook, where she’ll post her daily thoughts and insights during this 21 Day Fast.
It is possible to fast from things other than food….as long as they cost you something in terms of time, energy, comfort, or convenience. My friend Ashley once did a month long fast from all social media. Click here to read about her “Anti-social Prayer Experiment.” That kind of fast might be harder than giving up food!
According to the Bible, fasting is part of a normal prayer life. When Jesus was giving his disciples some tips on prayer, he said “When you fast…” not “If you fast…” If it were up to me, I wouldn’t have come up with the idea of fasting. Food is too much fun. But the Bible is clear. Fasting sharpens prayer.
One friend doing the fast decided to abstain from food all day on Day One. She asked me for some tips on fasting. I’m not an expert, but I’ve tried to make fasting a regular part of my prayer life for the last several years. Here are a few thoughts off the top:
1. Staying hydrated is one secret to effective fasting. Throughout the day, I drink lots of water, especially a lemon water recipe recommended by a naturopathic doctor: Squeeze the juice of 4-5 lemons into a pitcher of pure water and add 3 Tablespoons of grade B Maple Syrup. You can’t taste the syrup, but according to my doctor friend, it helps regulate blood sugar while you fast. Sip on this all day, making sure to get the recommended eight glasses of water. I usually have a cup or two of green tea first thing in the morning to avoid getting one of those nasty little caffeine-withdrawal headaches.
2. When the urge for food hits, that’s my alarm bell to pray. I also take extra time to read and meditate on the Bible. Fasting heightens my spiritual sensitivity and seems to propel my prayers in ways I don’t understand. Like I’ve said, I don’t know why fasting works. It just does.
3. I feel more motivated to fast when someone I care about has a pressing problem. Also, I sometimes fast when I need the Lord’s guidance or when I just plain feel stuck. I’ve encouraged you to list a couple of issues in your own life during this 21 Day Fast where you need to Get Unstuck.
4. I’m compelled to fast and pray when I see suffering or injustice. Pastor Saeed has endured terrible suffering during his imprisonment. Naghmeh and their children desperately want him back home. Fasting and prayer are one way we can share in their suffering.
God is pleased when we fast and pray for those like Pastor Saeed who are being oppressed.
“This is the kind of fasting I want,” God says in Isaiah. “Free those who are wrongly imprisoned…Let the oppressed go free,and remove the chains that bind people (Is. 58:6 NLT).”
Prayer: “Lord, we cry out for you remove the chains that bind Pastor Saeed and other persecuted Christians worldwide. Remind us daily when they need us to take a minute to stop what we are doing and pray. We fervently pray for you to bring Pastor Saeed home to his family.” Amen.