How to Find a Mentor

Philippians 3:8

Philippians 3:8

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. –Philippians 3:17

If you are joining us for the Philippians Study: Joy in All Things, this week we’ll talk about mentoring, discipleship, and imitating those who are examples to us.

Many of us desire a mentoring relationship but don’t know how to find one, we’re not sure where to start or how to ask.  Most mentoring relationships that click seem to start with the mentee.  Often it takes you, the one who desires a mentor, to make the first move. The mentor/mentee relationships that start out with a little bit of connection or relationship seem to stick more so than those that are connected as a blind date.  So here are some steps to help you succeed in connecting with a mentor.

Step 1: Ask yourself these questions before you approach a potential mentor.

  1.  Is there someone you want to get more time with?  Is there someone you see as an example?
  2. How are you hoping to grow as a Christ follower over this next year?  Does someone come to mind as you think of growing in those areas?
  3. Have you prayed about finding a mentor?
  4. If there aren’t any women that come to mind, have you considered joining us for Women’s Equipping?  Or joining a life group or team at our church?  This is often how most mentoring relationships are born, by connecting in smaller pockets within the church.

Step 2: ASK!
Pop the question . . . ask that person that comes to mind.  Share with them your desire for a mentor, how often you’d like to meet, and give them time to pray and respond.

Step 3:  Have Appropriate Expectations
Finding the perfect mentor is like trying to find a unicorn.  A mentor may not be your perfect match in all areas of life, they may have different interests than you, but they can help you grow to be more like Christ.  A mentor is not a counselor, a doctor, or a life coach. They are a friend who is just a few steps ahead of you in their walk with Christ and is striving to grow in their faith too.

Once you’ve asked, it’s helpful to:

  1.  Share how you’d like to grow or what you’re hoping for in your time together.  I have had a season where someone mentored me in prayer.  I wanted to grow in my prayer life and so every time we got together, we prayed for an extended period of time.  Not only did my prayer life grow, my faith grew because I watched God move!  I’ve also asked a women in ministry to mentor me specifically in leading and teaching.  With another mentor, I gave her complete permission to call out sin/wrong thinking, and rebuke me!  When you ask, be specific with what you’re desiring in the relationship.
  2. Set a time limit/expectations.  Will you meet once a month?  Talk weekly?  It’s best to set expectations up front so you both know how often you’ll meet or connect.
  3. Find something to do together or a way to serve together.  I love going on walks, so often I invite women over for a walk.  I’ve also found it’s really hard to connect with women I’m not serving/serving with.  So for those that I’m mentoring, I’ve asked them to be a part of Women’s Equipping so that I see them weekly and know that we’re studying the same thing during the week.  It seems to be a natural way to invite them into a huge part of my daily/weekly life.
  4. Write out questions ahead of time.  Don’t leave it up to your mentor to do all of the work.  Are there things you’re confused about in Scripture?  Questions you have?  Struggles your facing? Write them out and let that guide your time together.
  5. Meet her where she’s at.  If you’re being mentored by a young mom, offer to come over during nap time and fold laundry with her.  Come over during dinner time and help prep, or jump in the car on the way to Target.  If you’re being mentored by a working woman, meet her at work for lunch.  Meet before work early in the morning. Be mindful of each other’s seasons, and be willing to try something creative to get time together.

These are just suggestions and hopefully helpful tips as you pursue a mentor.  As always, The Well Community Church exists to help connect people to God and each other, so let us know how we can connect you.

 

Resources for Mentors:

5 Mentoring Lessons by Heather Davis Nelson.

1. Gospel mentoring flows out of weakness, not strength.
2. Offer what you have.
3. Mentoring begins with prayer.
4. Mentoring at its simplest is being intentional to care for another.
5. Gentle challenge embedded in love is an essential part of mentoring.

5 Reasons for Women’s Mentoring

AOD Study Guide

Spiritual Mothering by Susan Hunt

 

 

Philippians Intro: Week 1 {What is the Gospel}

Philippians is one of the shortest books in the Bible, but one of the most Gospel centered, full of encouragement and hope in Christ!  In fact, this book mentions Jesus Christ proportionally more than any of Paul’s other letters, with the Gospel repeated throughout.  This week, before we open up Philippians, we’ll look at why we’re studying this book and the importance of understanding what the Gospel truly is and its implication on our lives.

 

If you’re following us online, you can download the Philippians study here:

Philippians: Joy in All Things

Pulling Weeds

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I spent a few minutes this morning in my garden, pulling weeds. I could write a million theology and life lessons I’ve learned from the garden. It’s the end of the summer season, so we’re getting the little last bits of fruit from the veggies in our boxes. Soon, we’ll pull up what we planted last season, to get ready for what’s next. Which is essentially what we’re all doing with our lives and our schedules as fall arrives. Moving from one season to the next, back into fall responsibilities and expectations.

This morning, I realized so many weeds had crept into my garden. From far away they don’t look like a big deal, they even look green so it can be deceiving that they’re something healthy. But if you know anything about weeds, they are absolutely dangerous and harmful to the living plants in your garden.

It’s important to rid your garden of weeds because they rob your soil and your plants of important nutrients and water. Certain weeds such as nut grass actually reduce crop yield on farms because their roots release chemicals that are harmful to surrounding plants. (Seedlings Gardening)

Weeds sneak in near the healthy plant, steal nutrients, and reduce crop. Some of our plants didn’t yield any fruit this summer. We either planted them too close to one another or didn’t prepare the soil with the right nutrients. Then the weeds grew and took the good nutrients from the plants and they never produced fruit.

So it seems like the perfect time for both my garden and my soul to ask the question “What do I need to weed out of my life this season to stay healthy and bear fruit?”

Weeds in my life are the time wasters. How many of us are tired, burned out, or too busy? We say no to things we should be saying yes to, and yes to things we should be saying no to. We cultivate growth of weeds rather than bearing good fruit. We find time to scroll through social media, watch TV, or do other mindless activities but don’t make time for the true life sustaining stuff: bible study, prayer, and community.

Or we say YES to everything and then wonder why we aren’t bearing good fruit. I planted too many tomato plants next to each other and wondered why they didn’t produce a good crop? They were too close, fighting for too much of the same nutrients, which meant neither plant grew. It would’ve been better to have just planted one. I do the same with all my activities, I said yes to meeting with too many people, participating in too much, scheduling myself to the max, and wonder why I don’t bear fruit?

As I looked at my life this fall, some of the filters I had for my commitments were:

  1.  Does this pull me away from things that really matter?

When you look at your day, your week, your month, where are you truly spending your time? Is your family robbed of getting your best? Are your weekends so packed, church or a meal with others becomes one more “thing” to do?

  1. Does this pull me away from serving and connecting in my local church?

Are some of the things you’re doing pulling you away from serving and connecting in your local church? Are you saying yes to so much outside of the church, your neglecting serving and connecting with church family?

  1. Am I only saying yes because I don’t want to disappoint someone?

Are you only saying yes to things because you don’t want to let them down? Are you saying yes because you desire someone’s approval?

We are all given 168 hours in a week. About 50 of those are hours are for sleep (unless you’re a young mom, then you only get like 10 minutes a night or something?). If you work, 40 hours a week goes to a job. That leaves us 78 hours a week outside of sleep and work. I actually wrote down some of the things I spend my time doing in those 78 hours (which did not match the things I intend to do). 78 hours. We can spend those surfing the web and watching TV or we can redeem that time, pull the weeds, and bear fruit.

This is a lesson the Lord teaches me every year. The importance of saying no to good things, to say yes to what really matters, the best things. The importance of margin and space in life where not every minute or every evening is booked up. The importance of serving and connecting in our local church, then serving in our community.

So my “yeses” for this fall:

  1. My Local Church: Working part time for The Well, leading Women’s Equipping and shepherding women, gathering with others on Sundays, being available and present for those hurting and wanting to grow.
  1. My Community: Working part time a few days a week teaching reading.
  1. My Relationships: joining a life group: connecting and building community with others, and more time with friends and family.

The rest is margin, free space, dinners in my home with friends around the table, time to linger with Jesus, exercise, self-care, serve others, read, watch TV, play, prepare meals (bean burritos count), and pray. And of course, working in my garden—making sure the plants are getting the nutrients they need and plucking the weeds that will inevitably sneak in.

What do you need to weed out of your life this fall?

What do you need to say no to, in order to say yes to the things that matter?

How can you redeem some of the 168 hours you’ve been given in a week?

If one of your yeses is finding a place to grow with Jesus, connect with other women, and connect at The Well, join us this fall for Women’s Equipping Class. We will study Philippians: Joy in All Things for 9 weeks (Tuesdays 9/6-11/1 6:30-8pm or Fridays 9/9-11/4 9:30-11am). You can sign up here: Women’s Equipping Class: Philippians

 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5)

 

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My Greatest Prayer These Days

GraceI think I know why God gave me a crazy story. I think I know why I didn’t grow up within the church, why I spent 20+ years without understanding the Cross, why I indulged, carried on, and went my own way . . .

Had I not, I would have been a Pharisee among Pharisees, the legalist of all legalists, toeing the line, following all of the rules, and scorning those who didn’t do the same.

I may have wandered far, but somewhere along the way, His grace found me.

Lately, I’ve asked God, begged Him, to know His grace more. Somewhere, along the way, the woman who was forgiven much, rather than loving much, was beginning to expect much from others and herself. Rather than seeing myself as the sinful woman in Luke 7, I became the Pharisee with a stone in hand. Rather than understanding the story of the Prodigal Son through the younger brothers eyes, I started to see it as the older brother did.

I have seen it creep into my heart and my mind slowly over the years as a Christian. Once embraced by His grace, I’ve exchanged it for discipline. Once able to embrace others in grace, I’ve held expectations of moralism.

When did this slow exchange happen? When did I move from knowing and needing God’s grace, to self-discipline and attempting to live righteously on my own?

I remember the Apostle Paul mentioning this to the Galatians; those who accepted Grace were starting to fall back into religion, trying to keep rules to earn God’s favor.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. (Galatians 1:6-7)

Somehow the Gospel of Grace gets exchanged for the Gospel of doing, achieving, and right behavior with wrong motives. I claim the gospel of Grace over my life; I proclaim it for others, but do I really mean it? Do I really see Jesus perfection in me, or am I still striving to be perfect for Him?

It’s a hard thing this Christian life; having to repent of my striving, my toeing the line, my attempt at perfectionism, my high expectations, and my heart that wants to pull away instead of enter in and offer grace.

Brennan Manning says in his book, The Ragamuffin Gospel, “When I get honest, I admit I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and I doubt, I hope and get discouraged, I love and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. I am trusting and suspicious. I am honest and I still play games.”

I would add, “I’m forgiving yet I never forget. I love the Cross, but I still try to keep all the rules. I can show grace, but will do so selectively.” When I’m honest, my love is conditional. To the stranger, the addict, and the one who doesn’t know better: grace, grace, grace. To the one within the church who has slandered me, or the hypocrite, or the one who SHOULD know better: I expect more from you.

But that’s not how true grace, gospel grace works. Grace is not selective, it is not conditional; it does not run out after 13 years.

Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? (Galatians 3:2-3)

Grace, by definition, is getting what you don’t deserve.

So my greatest prayer these days is just that: GRACE.

Lord, help me know your grace.

Help me need your grace.

Help me show your grace.

Help me give your grace.

I want to know the grace and love of God like never before. I remember those beginning days when I understood my sin, my offense to God, and how sweet and amazing grace really was. I knew I didn’t deserve the love of Jesus, could never earn it, and it could never be taken away. I want to know that same grace today.

I want to need grace. I talk about my sin as if it were all in the past. It’s easy to share my testimony; I don’t live like I did 15 years ago. It’s not easy to talk about my pride, my selfishness, my self-righteousness, and my hard heart today. Of course I needed God’s grace as drunken party girl, do I still see my need for it as a cleaned up church worker? Oh how GREAT the need for grace!

I want to show grace. I want to truly be able to express the grace I’ve received through word, deed, and motives in my heart. I want to extend a hand to the hurting, to show the way to a yoke that is easy, and a burden that is light.

I want to give grace. And I want to give it impartially and unconditionally. Fellow partaker in the gospel who has hurt me, I want to give you grace. Outsider who has done heinous crimes, I want to give you grace. I want to give what others don’t deserve, because I have been given what I don’t deserve.

I want to gaze on the Gospel of grace, fix my affections on Jesus and His love, and turn around and give it away. But my heart is rotten, bent toward the law and outward behavior, and I struggle.

I want to live this life over and over in need of His grace. Over and over again, I want to be found by grace. And, over and over again, I want to give it away.

 

 

 

From Rest to the Wilderness

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My word for 2016 is with.  Slowing down, delighting in, enjoying Immanuel . . . God WITH us. After all, this is the purpose of the Christian life, right? Not just serving God or talking about God, but actually being with God, abiding in Him.

Though this year has been completely different from what I had imagined, it has been exactly what I needed. For that, I thank God. I thank our Father for giving me what I need, not what I thought I wanted. That’s easy to say when what He’s given me is margin, peace, quiet, slow, friends around my table, and rest. Thank you for giving me what I needed.

But what about the other stuff? The hard stuff? The unknown? The doubt? The waiting?

Is God enough for all of that? All of those unfulfilled wants and desires; can I be content where He has me right now, today, with nothing more and nothing less? Can I be content without having it all figured out or knowing what’s next, what’s ahead?

Many of us want our lives to be all figured out before we move forward. But the way of Jesus is not figure it all out, then go, it’s . . . Come, follow me. Following Jesus into the busy times of ministry and pouring out, following Jesus to the green pastures and still waters to be refreshed and replenished, and following Jesus into the wilderness, humbled to hunger, to depend on the Spirit, in the unknown and parched land, just to know Him more.  Following where He leads, when He leads.

It seems as summer is approaching, I know my time of sitting beside still waters is coming to an end. I’m refreshed, I’m strengthened, I’m filled up. I hear Him beckoning me to the wilderness. Back to doctor’s appointments, back to high hopes and unknown futures, back to unknown, desperate, dry, barren land.

My initial step is to start running toward Him because I want to be WITH Him. But I’m stuck trying to figure it out. Why there? What will we do? For how long? What’s waiting on the other side? What if it’s too hard? Too lonely?

He invites me to follow, not with the map full of directions and every stop on the journey, but with the invitation to know Him. He invites me to get away, get quieter and go deeper still, to be with Him. What more of an invitation do I need?

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30, The Message)

I’ve been living the first part of this lovely verse up to this point in 2016. Now as we go back into the wilderness, He is reminding me of the second half: I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.

Even in the wilderness, if I keep company with Him, I’ll live freely and lightly.

 

 

 

In trying to keep company with Him, I know I need to get even quieter. So for the month of May, I’m taking a little break/sabbatical/fast from social media. As much as possible, pulling away from posts, comments, likes, and constant intake of everyone and everything. It’s too noisy for me right now. 31 days of quiet and Lord willing, the voice of the Lord amplified in my life.

Some Questions on Anxiety . . . Agree or Disagree?

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**Well friends, I could be stirring up a hornet’s nest here, but I’m going to trust that as I ask the questions below, you know I’m asking to truly find understanding in an area I don’t understand.**

I’m studying Philippians deeply right now. I’m writing an 8-week bible study on this book and preparing to teach 4 sessions at a retreat in May, using this as our anchor verse for the weekend:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

As I’ve prepared to teach this verse, reading it over and over, I keep thinking of the few words before and the few words after.

The Lord is near . . . (Phil. 4:5b)

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:6-7)

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. (Phil. 8)

According to these verses, I can’t help but see the verse before “do not be anxious” reminds us of God’s nearness, His presence, Immanuel. The verse after “do not be anxious” gives us an alternative way to think.

Think on these things:

Whatever is
True
Honorable
Right
Pure
Lovely
Good
Whatever is excellent, worthy of praise

When I think of the verses before and after, I wonder how much of our battle with anxiety is fought through remembering God is near and fought through our thought life?

Now, I must confess . . . I don’t struggle with anxiety. There have been seasons in which I was anxious, but those are usually related to high stress, projects due, busyness, etc. But on the regular, I’m not a super anxious person. I don’t say that with pride, I say that so you know I don’t have a lot of experience or personal understanding here. I’ve watched friends I love struggle with anxiety, crippling fear, worry, stress and know it’s incredibly difficult to navigate and that’s why I’m asking for help.  I don’t understand, I don’t have the answers, I’m seeking them out.

I’ve heard people/thinkers/pastors/teachers/counselors friends say:

Anxiety comes not from thinking too much, but thinking too little. Anxiety comes from thinking too little about God. Anxiety is rooted in letting circumstances and fear rule our thoughts, over knowing the truth about God and His promises.

Anxiety is misplaced trust.

Spiritual stability is found in how you think.

Anxiety is unfulfilled responsibility.

The way you handle trials, temptations, and difficulties is a reflection of your view of God. If you understand all of his power and all of his promises, all of his purposes and all of his plans for you, and you know that he is near, what are you going to be anxious about?

Anxiety is physiological. Just as you would take and antihistamine for allergies, you would take an anti-anxiety pill for anxiety.

Now some of these are blunt, one-sided, I know. I’m wondering . . .

1.  Do you agree/disagree with the statements above? Why or why not?

 2.  How much of our thought life controls our anxiety?

 3.  If you struggle with anxiety, what has helped you in the midst of it?

 4.  What causes anxiety? Is it only physiological or is there some aspect of thinking or mistrust?

5.  Are anxiety, stress, worry, and fear similar?  Different?  Related? 

I don’t pretend to know all of the answers. I’m not a therapist, doctor, theologian, etc. But, I want to open a conversation in which we can be kind and seek a healthy dialogue without assuming or implying anything. I also know Jesus talks about worry, anxiety, and fear quite a bit, along with the rest of the Bible.  I would love to hear your responses to the quotes above and answers to my questions.

Rules of engagement:

  1. Be kind
  2. Engage respectfully
  3. Seek to understand responses
  4. Offer clarity

Leave a comment below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Spiritual Discipline of Fasting

 

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Out of curiosity, I did a little search on Pinterest regarding fasting. I found articles on fasting titled “7 Tips for Getting Rid of Cellulite”, “How to Lose Your Double Chin”, and “Get Rid of Back Fat Fast!”. Nearly all of the articles had to do with quick tips on weight loss. Nothing but weight loss tips and diets to keep us focused on ourselves and the impossible standards of perfection. This is the epitome of the hashtag #pinterestfail.

So what is fasting? Is it simply starving yourself to lose a few pounds or chins? Is it dieting? Is it about willpower? Is it only for the spiritually elite?

“Fasting is a believer’s voluntary abstinence from food for spiritual purposes. Other types of fasting—despite the benefits they may produce for the mind and body—could not be classified as Christian fasting, and fasting by a non-Christian obtains no eternal value. It is for believers in Christ, for the Discipline must be rooted in a relationship with Christ and practiced with the desire to become more like Christ.” (Donald Whitney)

Fasting is meant to draw you closer to God, and with every hunger pang, turn to Him in prayer. It is not a practice to keep us focused on ourselves and achieving the perfect body or religious points of sacrifice, but to focus on Christ, His broken body, and His perfection. It is designed to make you hunger and thirst for God and His kind of life. Perhaps that’s why Jesus warns us in the Sermon on the Mount to make sure the motivation of our fasting is for God alone (Matt 6:16-18).

We don’t live in a country where self-denial is practiced. In fact, self-sufficiency is more of our gospel than self-denial here in America. We are very impatient, used to getting what we want, when we want, rushed, busy, and overextended. The practice of fasting and abstaining to get more of God seems so foreign to us when we can have any of our needs met at the snap of our fingers.  Why would we abstain when we can have instant gratification? So often, we don’t fast because we’re satisfied so easily.

Fasting causes us to rely on the Lord, to turn to Him in our want and in our need and seek Him. According to scripture, here are some reasons as to why we fast:

Why We Fast Individually

We Fast to Grow Closer to God and Seek His Will

“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry.” (Matthew 4:1-2)

Jesus fasted. Jesus modeled a life submitted to God and drawing near to Him. Before He set out to do His ministry, he pulled away into the wilderness to fast and hunger for God.

We Fast for the Impossible

And He *said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.  [But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”] (Matthew 17:20-22)

Of course we know God can do whatever He wills. We can fast and pray; yet He will determine the outcome. But oh how we of little faith neglect this call to fast in hopes that God will do the impossible.

We Fast to Let Go of Idols

“But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself.” (Dan 1:8)

While Daniel did not abstain from all food in this fast, he intentionally abstained from certain food to avoid his heart being lured away from complete devotion to God. Later Daniel fasts again on behalf of his people.

We Fast in Mourning and Grief for Our Sin

“So I gave my attention to the LORD God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes.  I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed and said, “Alas, O LORD, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments,  we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments and ordinances.  Moreover, we have not listened to Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings, our princes, our fathers and all the people of the land.” (Daniel 9:3-6)

Much like Nehemiah, Daniel mourns for the people and repents not only for his sin, but the sin of the people.

Before he ever laid a brick to rebuild the wall, Nehemiah started his project weeping and fasting; recognizing things were not the way they should be. “They said to me, “The remnant there in the province who survived the captivity are in great distress and reproach, and the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates are burned with fire.” When I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.” (Nehemiah 1:3-4)

We fast when things aren’t the way they should be, out of confession and mourning for the people of God.

We Fast in Our Suffering

“Then the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s widow bore to David, so that he was very sick. David therefore inquired of God for the child; and David fasted and went and lay all night on the ground. The elders of his household stood beside him in order to raise him up from the ground, but he was unwilling and would not eat food with them.” (2 Samuel 12:15-17)

In the midst of circumstances out of our control, we can fast and pray and beg God to move.

We Fast in Anticipation for a Greater Feast

“Then he *said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” (Revelation 19:9)

This is actually not a verse on fasting, but it’s a reminder of what is to come. We can abstain and go without and hunger on this earth, because there is going to be an abundant feast waiting for us in heaven that will satisfy us for all of eternity.

Why We Fast Together

While Jesus teaches us to fast in secret, in order to be seen by God and not men, there is also a call in scripture to fast corporately, or together, as the body of believers.

We Fast to Seek God and His Will

“While they were ministering to the LORD and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”  Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” (Acts 13:2-3)

While the church was beginning to spread, the early church fathers were fasting for God’s wisdom and direction with what to do next. The spirit leads us in our hunger to obey His will.

We Fast to Intercede for Others

“Go, assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa, and fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maidens also will fast in the same way. And thus I will go in to the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:16)

Esther was being brave and bold to step up and attempt to save the Jews, her people. But, she wouldn’t go alone. She called on her people to pray and fast along with her, and the LORD saved an entire generation.”

A Corporate Confession of Sin

“Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the sons of Israel assembled with fasting, in sackcloth and with dirt upon them. The descendants of Israel separated themselves from all foreigners, and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. While they stood in their place, they read from the book of the law of the LORD their God for a fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the LORD their God. (Nehemiah 9:1-3)

A Corporate Fast to Seek Help From the LORD

“Now it came about after this that the sons of Moab and the sons of Ammon, together with some of the Meunites, came to make war against Jehoshaphat.  Then some came and reported to Jehoshaphat, saying, “A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, out of Aram and behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar (that is Engedi).”  Jehoshaphat was afraid and turned his attention to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. So Judah gathered together to seek help from the LORD; they even came from all the cities of Judah to seek the LORD.” (2 Chronicles 20:1-4)

A Corporate Fast to Seek Refuge in the LORD

“Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God to seek from Him a safe journey for us, our little ones, and all our possessions. For I was ashamed to request from the king troops and horsemen to protect us from the enemy on the way, because we had said to the king, “The hand of our God is favorably disposed to all those who seek Him, but His power and His anger are against all those who forsake Him.” So we fasted and sought our God concerning this matter, and He listened to our entreaty.” (Ezra 8:21-23)

Fasting is not about dieting, unless we’re seeking the diet to be filled by God and found in Him. Fasting is to lay aside having our needs met in anything but Christ. It’s to hunger and thirst for His righteousness, to seek His Kingdom. It’s going without to be with Jesus. It’s emptying ourselves to be filled by His Spirit.

This week before Holy Week, practice with me as we look to the darkest and most joyful few days in all of history, the death and resurrection of Christ. Christ our King who gave up everything so that we would become heirs in His abundance.

Resources for this week as you practice fasting:

  1. In Isaiah 58, the Lord shows there is a fast that honors God and one that doesn’t. Read through Isaiah 58:1-12 and record your observations.

Religious Fast (v.2-5)                                                 Fast That Honors God (v.6-12)

 

    1. Watch the women on this panel share about fasting, what it’s meant for them and how they have practiced this discipline.
      1. Practice fasting. Abstain from food for 24 hours. If you can’t abstain from food for medical purposes, try abstaining from something like television or social media for 24 hours, or reducing the amount of food (one meal), practice silence or solitude for 24 hours, etc.

Journal about your experience. How did you feel physically? Emotionally? Spiritually? How much was it on your mind? Did that push you to God and dependence upon Him?

“These hunger pangs teach us we’re waiting for a greater feast.”  
-Lore Ferguson Wilbert