How To Join The Monthly Fast - #FastTheFirst


By Jedidiah Coppenger
I love food as much as the next guy. So why in the world did I invite Redemption City Church to fast with me this Tuesday, January 21, and every 1st of the month this year (Feb. 1, March 1, April 1, etc.)?

Well, when you read the Bible, you see people fasting all over the place. Fasting is simply abstaining from food for a specific purpose. A quick look at the 77 times the Bible talks about fasting shows that Moses fasted, Israel fasted, Daniel fasted, Nehemiah fasted, Jesus fasted, the early church fasted, just to name a few. When you fast, you’re in good company. Fasting was such a normal part of following God that when Jesus taught on it, he didn’t make an argument for it, he simply started by saying, “when you fast…”, not “if…” (Matt. 6:16-18).

The reasons for fasting are many and meaningful. After Moses fasted he received the 10 commandments (Ex. 34:28). God blessed Israel’s fast with a stunning victory over the Edomites (2 Chron. 20:2-3). Daniel received the guidance he needed during his fast (Dan. 9:3). Before Nehemiah built Jerusalem’s broken walls, an achievement that stunned everyone who understood the situation, he fasted (Neh. 1:4). After Jesus’ fast, he overcame the Enemy behind all the enemies of God in the wilderness (Luke 4:2). As the early church was asking for clarity on who to set apart for ministry, they fasted (Acts 13:2-3). The reasons for fasting are as many as the reasons for praying. Yet, fasting seems to be focused on unusually challenging problems where a special “breakthrough” is needed.

When you look at the history of the church, you see that Christians from other time periods read Scripture in a way that led them to fast. Here’s a few examples. The Didache, which is kind of a “how to do church” manual to help Christians understand what the Bible taught, prescribed two “fast days” a week: Wednesday and Friday. The 2nd Council of Orleans called for regular fasting in the 6th century. John Wesley urged Christians to fast on Wednesday and Fridays as well.

Will you join me as I join so many others who have come before us and fast?

If you will, here are a couple of practical suggestions about fasting, most of which I got from Dr. Ronnie Floyd who has written at length on the subject.

Find Your Day – You can fast any day you want. I’m encouraging you to join me this Tuesday, January 20th, on a fast and then the 1st day of each month for the rest of the year. If you need to miss a day, but want to be a part of what we’re doing, aim for a day during the first week of the month. #FastTheFirst

Find Your Level – When the Scripture talks about fasting, it is talking about abstinence from food. On the day you fast, let me encourage you to participate at some level. That might mean that you miss one meal, or two meals, or all the meals. Perhaps you can’t miss any meals? That’s okay, you can abstain from something else, like social media. Whatever it is, find a level that allows you to participate in the fast.

Set Specific Goals – I believe that “specificity leads to visibility” in our prayer lives. When we get specific with our prayers we give the invisible God an opportunity to become visible in our lives in a way he wouldn’t without that specific request. When we start getting specific with our requests, we start seeing him more in our daily lives. The same is true for fasting. Let me encourage you to ask God to answer specific requests in 3 areas: your relationship with him, something in your life, and for your church.

Plan Your Time – During the time when you would normally do the thing that you are abstaining from, like eating, use that time to read Scripture and pray. The examples of fasting in the Bible show us that the people of God “withdrew” in some way from their normal activities to encounter God. Let’s do the same, whether that is 15 minutes or an hour.

What might God have in store for us if we follow his word and make fasting a regular part of our relationship with him? How might our lives be different? What about the lives of those we’d be praying for? Join me on this simple, God-honoring journey. Let’s see God work in fresh ways this year.