40 Days of Prayer 2024: Day 11

Welcome to day 11 of our 40 day challenge! Today, we begin our five day focus on fasting.

(You can catch up on Day 1, Day 2 , Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7, Day 8, and Day 9, and Day 10 if you missed them)

Congratulations! You’ve made it to part 3! Remember, don’t worry about being behind if you’ve just begun or if you miss a day. It’s far better to begin now and keep going than to get discouraged and stop altogether. God has incredible blessings waiting for you in this challenge.  Start fresh today, and keep going!

Part 3: Fasting

Today, we begin our third practice of Jesus, Fasting! When you read that word, you may have groaned or were delighted! Depending on the faith communities you’ve been in, this practice may have been abused, used well, or even completely avoided. When we began our first 40-day challenge in 2020, I received all three types of replies. If you’ve never had a meaningful fasting experience, we are going to change that now! Fasting isn’t something to be afraid of. Jesus will meet you right where you are. Starting small is often the key to continuing practices long term.

16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:16-18

Let your no be your no

As with all the practices we see Jesus doing and seek to emulate, our heart position is vital in fasting. When we fast, we are not earning points with the Lord, we are not manipulating Him into answering our prayers. We are seeking Him, and training ourselves in saying no.

I continue to learn over and over that saying yes to something is automatically saying no to something else. Each opportunity or invitation or obligation we say yes to is an automatic no to something else. And that something else is often time with our families or with the Lord.  This is also true for the practices of Jesus. In each practice, we are either saying YES or NO to something. And each practice where we cease turns out to be a yes to the Lord!

For Sabbath, we are saying no to our work, acknowledging with our bodies that rest is a gift from a Good Father that cannot be earned. We clear space in our lives and hearts for the Lord. Fasting is also saying no. We cease eating, making time available to seek the Lord. We then take the time we would have spent preparing and eating food and spend it with the Lord in prayer. The two work together!

You may, like many of us, need help exercising this muscle of saying no to yourself and others. And the practice of fasting is perfect for this. We are in training, remember! And saying no to our desires and cravings flexes this spiritual muscle.

With the Sabbath, we are physically ceasing work, acting out with our bodies what we believe. In fasting, we physically cease eating, acting out with our bodies, that we are seeking the Lord first.  In fasting, we subdue physical hunger for spiritual hunger. We hunger for spiritual nourishment more than we hunger for physical nourishment.

Sabbath shows us where we believe our worth comes from—is it from what we accomplish and produce or a gift from the Lord who created us?

Fasting shows us what we are controlled by—is it our cravings and comfort, even in good things, or the Spirit of God? Fasting is our outer expression of our inner commitment in seeking the Lord first.

Reflection for prayer and/or journaling:

What purpose might God be calling you to fast for? In addition to fasting to seek God, some fast for discernment, for spiritual breakthroughs, or for favor.

Action steps:

Choose a day over the next week for a fast. Choose the type and duration of fast based on your experience and health. If you are new to fasting, you may want to fast for one meal, or two. You can fast from sundown to sundown the next day.

If you are experienced with fasting, pray about a longer fast, 3, 7 10, or even 40 days. For longer fasts, many people choose to fast certain things instead of all food for the length of time.

For those with health conditions that won’t allow fasting from food, you can choose something else to say NO to in order to say yes to God. You can fast like Daniel did, giving up choice foods. You can fast social media, desserts, etc. Seek the Lord.

The thing that just popped into your mind that you definitely don’t want to give up, that’s likely something you should fast! It’s a good indication of somewhere you need to flex your no muscle.

Further resources:

Our Intro to fasting and prayer from our first ever prayer challenge!

♥ Samantha