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The Hows and Whys of Fasting

| September 14, 2009

I had the wonderful privilege of speaking at the North Carolina Baptist Convention National Prayer and Evangelism Conference this past weekend, at Ridgecrest Retreat Center, in the beautiful Blueridge mountains of North Carolina.

I spoke on the necessity to take up our posts and stand as “Watchmen on the Wall” in prayer. I also did a workshop on the Hows and Whys of Fasting.Did you know that Jesus expected his disciples to fast after He left? Fasting is a basic spiritual discipline for all Christians:

Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?”

Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.

No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse.   Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”   [Matthew 9:14-17]

New Testament fasting is a “new wineskin.” The practice has been revolutionized by the incarnation and atonement of Christ. New Testament fasting is to express aching, yearning, and longing for Christ. It’s a statement saying, “This much, O Lord, I want your work to be done and your kingdom to come. This much, O Lord, I want you to return.” (from John Piper in Hunger for God)

In the workshop, we reviewed the “why” of New Testament Fasting, but spent the bulk of time talking about the very practical question of how to actually do it. As promised, I’m posting the notes. They include five basic steps for fasting that I’ve come up with, based on my personal experience with fasting over the past 20 years. You can download the notes by clicking on the link below. I hope they’ll be a help as you try to incorporate this spiritual discipline into your life.

The Hows and Whys of Fasting

© Mary A. Kassian


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  1. Judy says:

    Thank you for posting the notes from the breakout session last weekend.
    Mary,we were blessed both by the main session, “Watchmen on the Wall” and the breakout on Fasting.
    I have not had a plan or “how to” fast explained so clearly before. it will be life changing as I begin to incorporate these pointers in my prayer life.
    We will be keeping our eyes on the Minnesota “Wild”.
    Blessings,

  2. Erin says:

    Thanks Mary for sharing this information on fasting. I’m going to ask the Lord to help me make a plan.
    Blessings to you and yours
    Erin