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For several years, Christian Union called on Christians to join us two times per year in seeking God through fasting. These sorts of fasting initiatives are now part of Christian Union America, but the devotionals that were written for those fasts have continued to strengthen and encourage believers, so we have made them available here.

A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

Cambridge theologian William Inge (1860–1954) famously quipped, "all of nature is a conjugation of the verb to eat, in the active and passive." Inge's characterization of eating as an overarching touchstone suffuses narratives of family, tradition, and place with remembrances of love, loss, and celebration. Potlucks and campfire s'mores, wedding and birthday cakes, funeral and Eucharist suppers frame the ever-changing seasons of life.

Similarly, Norman Wirzba's Food & Faith: A Theology of Eating highlights the proper balance of feasting and fasting: "People should feast so they do not forget the grace and blessing of the world. People should fast so they do not degrade or hoard the good gifts of God. In short, we feast to glorify God and we fast so we do not glorify ourselves" (p. 137).

This intentional juxtaposition of feasting and fasting surfaces

A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

"I humbled my soul with fasting."
-King David (Psalm 69:10)

As King David implied, fasting is a time for us to humble ourselves before the Lord, whereby we can set aside all confidence that we have in our flesh and rightly confess to Him – and to ourselves – the severity of our spiritual depravity. 

Upon entering this fast, we prepared for the sins hidden within us – jealousy, bitterness, anxiety, fear, and the like – to enter the forefront of our minds and hearts. As we discussed, God uses fasting to show us

A Prayer and Fasting Devotional 

There are a number of times in the gospels that Jesus talks about food, but often it is in ways that you might not expect. Consider three examples:

In John 6, we find a conversation Jesus had with a crowd that was following him after he multiplied fish and bread. He said to them:

"For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."
"Sir," they said, "from now on give us this bread."
Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty."
 - John 6:33-35

According to Jesus, the Son of God

A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

Something about fasting causes humility to mark our walks with God and our experience before Him. We rediscover that we are created ones, subject to a Creator, and we are sinful beings prone to complain. Though we may posture and protest, our need for sustenance and grace is inescapable when we fast. Our physical needs make manifest our utter dependence in every way on the only One who satisfies our every need. This precious truth should compel us to turn to our faithful God and submit ourselves to His call to walk in holiness.

One of the most beautiful examples of humility and God’s steadfast love is the story of the prophet Hosea. 

A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." – Colossians 4:2 (NIV)

"Prayer is the easiest and hardest of all things; the simplest and the sublimest; the weakest and the most powerful; its results lie outside the range of human possibilities—they are limited only by the omnipotence of God." – E. M. Bounds

Frequent and fervent prayer is an essential part of our relationship with God. It is the natural product of genuine faith in God and His promise that He will hear and answer us. Though the practice of prayer is simple enough for a child to perform, prayer is also a complex discipline in which every Christian continues to grow and develop throughout life. Just as Jesus' disciples, we all continue to cry out "Lord, teach us to pray." It is a prayer that God loves to answer

A Prayer and Fasting Devotional 

"Conditional grace is nearly unintelligible to many contemporary Christians who assume that unconditionality is the essence of all grace." - John Piper, Future Grace

Probably nothing hinders the Western church more than a theological misunderstanding of grace. God has poured out on humanity extraordinary unconditional grace such as the gift of life, and the offer of salvation. However, as Piper discusses at length in his book, Future Grace, more grace from God is available

A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

There are moments in our lives when ultimate matters become remarkably clear. Like far-sighted eyes that suddenly receive corrective lenses, our ability to make sense of the priorities of life crystalizes, and we recognize the nuances of existence. We see the purposes for which we live and the relationship for which we were created. The Psalmist enjoyed this type of detailed clarity on the occasion of the writing of Psalm 84:

For a day in your courts is better
than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the
House of my God
than to dwell in the tents of the wicked.

In that inspired moment, the Psalmist determined that his life's priority, regardless of the allurements surrounding him, was existence lived in the atmosphere of God's presence. He would be willing to forgo fleeting pleasures surrounding him in order to experience the glorious, fulfilling reality 

A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

Often times when I'm seeking to encourage a fellow sinner-sufferer I ask, "What am I doing or saying that is distracting them from Jesus?" The only worthy encouragement I can ever offer comes from Jesus and the Good News. I also know that if people see me instead of Jesus, hope given will be short-lived. This has led me to wonder how I distract even myself and stray from my relationship with Him. I began thinking about the balance between enjoying God's gifts to us on earth versus indulging in them to the point of gluttony and distraction from Jesus ... like TV, coffee, spending, community, food, sleep, being healthy, working, alcohol, children, or even learning.

Where am I choosing apostasy in certain areas because it's more comfortable than being changed by the Spirit of God?

Where does my flesh dictate

A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
-Psalm 139:23-24

I am convinced that one of the primary reasons many of us struggle to draw near to God in an earnest, deeper way is because we know that such a pursuit may initially involve a painful, even excruciating encounter. What misbehaving child seeks out the offended authority figure? How many of us avoid prescribed medical exams and precautionary procedures not only because of the dread of discomfort or humiliation, but also for fear of what the good doctor may find?

Yet to properly seek God requires that we consistently wade through the proverbial muck and mire to truly come clean. The saints of old in the Roman Catholic Jesuit tradition called this kind of daily reflection the Prayer of Examen and various forms of this spiritual exercise remain today[1]. The Latin word means the examining or discerning of conscience, conveying the idea of our ongoing need for an accurate assessment of the true condition of our soul.

Richard Foster, in his attempt to exhume this practice, describes what we might call the ditches on either side of the path 

Share. Encourage Others. Be Encouraged. Praise God.

Throughout this initiative, we have asked God to move in the lives of those who participate.

If you have participated in a 40 Day Initiative, or are participating in this current season, please let us know what you have learned, how you have grown (or been challenged), and what God has done during or as a result of your fast.

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