In this blog, we explore the importance of celebrating fasting, sharing examples, practical insights, and reasons why this spiritual discipline should be an integral part of our faith journey. The focus is on viewing fasting as a celebration of what God is doing rather than a mere self-discipline. We keep this focus by coaching and celebrating progress, avoiding legalism, and fostering a culture where failures are embraced and learned from.
Why Celebrate Fasting?
Does our fasting experience include celebration, and how can the two be intertwined? I've made an observation within my church history. While fasting is embraced, there seems to be a reluctance to discuss it openly or to champion and celebrate it. In fact, I've never had a discipleship time on fasting or heard a sermon preached on fasting. Have you? Do you want to change that?
In our disciple makers pathway, the main feedback we received for improvement was giving more instruction on fasting. Drawing inspiration from Richard J. Foster's "Celebration of Discipline." , I suggest that celebrating disciplines, including fasting, is vital to developing a proper mindset and commitment. I believe that fasting is something to be celebrated; a recognition of what God is doing rather than a focus solely on our actions.
Fasting Practices in Disciple Making Movements:
Disciple-making movements in different parts of the world emphasize a corporate culture of fasting. Leaders spend significant time in personal and team prayer, integrating fasting as a regular weekly and monthly practice. In these contexts fasting is normal, it is coached, and it is celebrated. They believe that their most productive times are spent in prayer and fasting. Similarly, according to the Didache, early Christians' normative practice of fasting was twice a week. Shouldn't we restore this ancient practice?
Mobilizing and Coaching in Fasting:
People typically don't fast until they're inspired by the example of someone who modeled it. I didn't fast personally until a roommate fasted and I was asked to join him. Leaders should model and teach fasting like other spiritual disciplines, creating a culture where trying and failing are celebrated, and fostering a supportive community. People are much more likely to fast when they are i na community of people who are also fasting.
There is a fine line between promoting a spiritual discipline and avoiding legalism. By definition a Gospel-centered discipleship is never legalistic. We strive to be holy as God is holy, not "Holier than thou" in our discipling relationships. The focus is on helping others encounter Jesus rather than imposing rules. Remember, we celebrate that God is at work in fasting, not ourselves. Fasting done properly can help to give God the glory.
A private, solitary practice of fasting is fantastic, but consider what you may miss in the communal celebration of fasting that strengthens our connection with God and each other. Make a cultural shift toward celebrating attempts, failures, and progress in fasting as an action based learning community. Shared lifestyles, coaching, and mutual support lead to fasting becoming a celebrated and normative aspect of our disciple making journey.
Check out our fasting resource page for videos, pdf guides, Biblical examples, and basic steps to grow in your fasting journey.