The next two weeks will be dedicated to a rolling fast. The outline is provided below:
The goal of this challenge is to move from self to service, from individualism to community, and from indulgence to sacrifice as we grow in love for God and others.
Object of fast: Food
Moving from bread to Bread of Life
Commitment: Eat nothing today. We are a culture obsessed with food and indulgence. We have such abundance in our culture that we have shifted our understanding of food from sustenance to indulgence. As a culture we now view food far less as something we need to survive and much more as something to simply enjoy in great quantities. Today, remind yourself that food isn’t simply something to indulge in, and that it isn’t even needed to survive for extended periods of time. Take time to remind yourself that you simply need God the father to survive, that He is your sustenance, by reading the following passage during your typical meal time and then spending time with your Father.
Reading: Matthew 4:1-4 (read each time you would typically be eating)
Prayer: Today’s prayer/hymn comes from John Wesley (1703-91). Read through it to
help you guide your thoughts during your times with God today.
Author of life divine,
Who hast a table spread,
Furnished with mystic Wine
And everlasting Bread,
Preserve the life thyself hast given, And feed and train us up for heaven.
Our needy souls sustain
With fresh supplies of love,
Till all thy life we gain,
And all thy fullness prove,
And, strengthened by thy perfect grace, Behold without a veil thy face.
May the words of Jesus, our eternal Lord, bless you today as you sacrifice for him: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”
Object of fast: Busyness
Moving from Hurried to Hushed
Commitment: Today refrain from filling your schedule. Our schedules burden us. They dictate our behaviors and even our thoughts many times. Make fewer commitments today
and be joyful in the Lord. Pray more today; taking a true Sabbath. Spend 15 minutes in TOTAL silence connecting with God through mediation on his word or the goodness of his creation. During these 15 minutes there should be no phones, texting, or any noise except that which is beyond your control. Honor God and participate in the same rest that he himself enjoyed after creation. Read the passages below and allow God to speak to you through unexpected means in your moment of silence, just as he did Elijah.
Reading: Exodus 20: 8-11; I Kings 19: 9-13.
Prayer: Today’s prayer comes from Augustine of Hippo (354-430).
Almighty God, in whom we live and move and have our being, you have made us for yourself, so that our hearts are restless till they rest in you; grant us purity of heart and strength of purpose, that no passion may hinder us from knowing your will, no weakness from doing it; but in your light may we see light clearly, and in your service find perfect freedom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Read through this prayer and take Augustine’s supplication to God seriously, letting your soul find its greatly desired rest in Him today.
Object of fast: Sarcasm/Cynicism Moving From Ridicule to Respect
Commitment: Today refrain from ALL sarcastic comments (i.e. no back-handed compliments; no poor speech about another person; no jokes where someone is the object….NO sarcasm whatsoever). Sarcasm often teaches those listening to us that they cannot trust us to be genuine. How many times have you had a friend of yours say something and it sounded so genuine that you just had to ask, “Are you being serious or are you joking?” Many times that happens because we expect people to speak sarcastically, which is to say that we expect them to not mean what they are saying. Sarcasm is critical and is a “bait and switch” form of communication. When we are sarcastic, we are training others to not listen to what we have to say because when we are sarcastic, we do not mean what we say. So, do not be sarcastic today. But…please…do not be silent today. Do not let your tongue be completely still. Instead use the tongue God gave you to spread encouragement and joy. Use your tongue to build others up and spread the news of Jesus.
Reading: Ephesians 4:29; James 3:1-11
Prayer: The prayer for today comes again from George Wallace Briggs (1875-1959). Pray this prayer as you begin your time with God today.
Set a watch, O Lord, upon our tongue: that we never speak the cruel word which is untrue; or, being true, is not the whole truth; or being wholly true, is merciless; for the love of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
May God bless you today as you use your tongue as an instrument for peace, encouragement, and joy and refraining from using it for destructive purposes.
Object of Fast: White noise Moving From Saturation to Silence
Commitment: No unnecessary noise today. This world is loud! VERY loud! There is always an iPod, a radio, a TV, voices, or something in the background. Test this today and see. Refrain from all noise that isn’t necessary. You will begin to hear things you never knew were in the background: the whirl of an air conditioner, the creaking in the floor as you walk, etc. We invite a large percentage of those noises into our lives. Uninvite them today. Tell them that they are not wanted. No headphones. No noise beyond that which is necessary at work or school. As did Jesus so frequently, you need to be alone in silence with the Father. Spend time with Him today, letting silence envelop you as you meditate on his word.
Reading: Habakkuk 2:20; Psalm 46:10; Luke 5:16
Prayer: The prayer for silent soul comes from Père Nicholas Grou (1731-1803). This prayer should be helpful as we strive to be silent and listen more to God and his revelation.
O my divine Master, teach me to hold myself in silence before you, to adore you in the depths of my being, to wait upon you always and never to ask anything of you but the fulfillment of your will. Teach me to let you act in my soul, and form in it the simple prayer that says little but includes everything. Grant me this favour for the glory of your name. Amen.
Object of Fast: Entertainment Moving from Distraction to Devotion
Commitment: Do not entertain yourself in any form today (e.g. no TV, movies, iPhone games, music, video games, or entertainment of any kind). Ours is a culture centered on entertainment. Entertainment is often used as an escape from reality, something to “take your mind off things.” Today reclaim God’s purpose and design for yourself embracing
reality rather than attempting to escape from it. “Put your nose to the grindstone” and set about your day with vigor, committing yourself to be productive for the Lord’s sake. The Lord gave us work as a good thing. Devote yourself to that work today for His glory, not your own.
Reading: Colossians 3: 16-17, 23-24
Prayer: Today’s prayers come from George Wallace Biggs (1875-1959) and Eric Milner-White (1884-1964) subsequently. Please read through the prayers of these men and allow their thoughts to help guide your own.
Go thou with us, O Lord, as we enter into thy holy house; and go thou with us, as we return to take up the common duties of life. In worship and in work alike let us know thy presence near us; till work itself be worship, and our every thought be to thy praise; through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.
God, who hast made every calling acceptable to thyself, if only thy glory be intended in it: give us day by day the desire to do our work., of what sort soever it be, for thine honour; and the joy of rendering it to thee well done; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
May God the father of our Lord Jesus grant you diligence and satisfaction today as you do all things in a productive way to honor and glorify Him and thank Him for making us capable.
Object of Fast: Caffeine/sodas
Commitment: Drink nothing but water today. Refrain from ALL other beverages today. Many of us are addicts to caffeine or sugar. We think nothing of it because we believe it to be not as harmful as other drugs such as alcohol. However, the Lord calls us to have control over ourselves and to not allow anything to have control over us. So, put that coffee cup down. Drink water and focus on Jesus as the water of life, the giver of goodness, and the only thing that should have control over your life.
Reading: John 4:1-42. Read this entire story once today, focusing on vv. 13-14. Then read vv. 13-14 several more times before bed tonight.
Prayer: Today you have two short prayers to guide your time with the Lord. The first comes from a Chinese Christian (name and date unkown). The second comes from a Punjabi Christian (name and date unknown).
I pray thee, Lord, to give living water to quench my thirst, and wash away the stains from my heart. (Chinese Christian)
O heavenly Father, open wide the sluice gates into my heart that I may receive your living water and be fruitful. (Punjabi Christian)
May God bless you as you deny yourself today and focus on Jesus as the living water. May you reply the way the woman at the well did in v. 15, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty…”
Object of Fast: Technology and Media Moving from Innovation to Intimacy
Commitment: Refrain from all technology and media today (unless you are required for school or work). This includes television, telephones, the internet, DVDs, or pretty much anything electronic. Technology is a useful tool, but because of the sinfulness of humankind has also produced terrible sin (internet pornography, faster and more accurate ways to wage war, etc.). Do not simply refrain from technology today, but spend time doing things the old fashioned way: put pen to paper and write a letter to God! Your letter can be anything you wish it to be and will remain between you and God. If possible, reconnect with God through spending time in nature away from technology and read Psalm 95, reminding yourself of all of the wonders of this world that God has made, things that are not man-made.
Reading: Psalm 95: 1-11.
Prayer: Today’s prayers come from Johann Kepler (1571-1630) and from liturgy of the early church. Read these prayers, focusing on our role and responsibility with technology and then meditate on the second prayer in nature, creating an intimate space between you and God in prayer.
Almighty God, in giving us dominion over things on earth, you made us fellow workers in your creation: give us wisdom and reverence so to use the resources of nature, that no one may suffer from our abuse of them, and that the generations yet to come may continue to praise you for your bounty; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (liturgy)
O God, through the light of nature you have aroused in us a longing for the light of grace., so that we may be raised in the light of your majesty. To you I give thanks, Creator and Lord, that you allow me to rejoice in your works. Praise the Lord, you heavenly harmonies, and you who know the harmony that has been revealed. For everything exists from you, through you and in you, the perceptible world as well as the spiritual; that which we know and that which we do not know, for there is still much to learn. (John Kepler)
May God bless you today as you reconnect with him and remember the works of His hands…not ours.
Object of Fast: Individualism
Moving from Self-love to Self-Sacrifice
Commitment: Refrain from spending the day alone or spending the day focused on yourself. Staying away from true community is easy to do sometimes. To remain isolated means that you can say, do, or be a part of whatever you want without accountability. Refraining from individualism is not a way of stifling the unique part that makes you who you are. To celebrate your uniqueness in God is a good thing, but God calls us to celebrate our uniqueness within community, not outside of it. You are special, gifted, and unique, but those gifts were given to you that the entire body of Christ may benefit from your uniqueness. So celebrate each other in community today. If possible, carpool instead of driving alone to work or school. Find ways to be in community that you normally wouldn’t.
Reading: 2 Kings 7: 3-19. Read this story of how much risk and self-sacrifice is required for true community.
Prayer: The prayer for today comes from Michael John Saward (1932-).
Lord of the Church, enable your people to be the Church: a redeemed people, a holy people, a united people, a missionary people: and in all things a people gladly submissive to the truth as it is found in Jesus, in whose name we pray. Amen.
May the God, three-in-one, bless you today by granting you the desire, opportunity, and ability to be in community, whatever the risks, that we may be like Him who is in everlasting relationship: Father, Son, and Spirit.
Object of fast: Comfort Moving from Comfort to Cross
Commitment: Choose to leave your comfort zones today. It is easy for us to fill our free time with TV, music, or Facebook. It is also easy for us to serve God in ways that are not too inconvenient. After a while, it can be easy to feel like we are following God’s call on your life simply because we go to church. Today, leave behind comfort and lean into the mission of Jesus. Take risks for Jesus today. See if a new path is opened up for you as you take hold of every kingdom opportunity available. Scratch that…make new opportunities today. Create new kingdom opportunities today instead of idling waiting for some to come along. Examples are endless: are you uncomfortable spreading the good news to your friends? Take a risk and share the gospel today; are you uncomfortable starting a Bible study with a co-worker or roommate? Ask them boldly to study with you. Are you afraid of people less fortunate than yourself? Have a conversation with someone in a different economic class. We leave our comfort today to recognize that God has called us to continually grow, that seldom does that happen with “growing pains,” and that God can accomplish amazing things if we simply step out in faith.
Reading: Read the story of Gideon (Judges 6-7).
Prayer: Today’s prayer comes from Eric Milner White (184-1964).
O Lord Christ, Lamb of God, Lord of Lords, call us, who are called to be saints, along the way of thy Cross; draw us, who would draw nearer to our King, to the foot of thy Cross; cleanse us, who are not worthy to approach, with the pardon of thy Cross; instruct us, the ignorant and blind, in the school of thy Cross; arm us, for the battles of holiness, by the might of thy Cross; bring us, in the fellowship of thy sufferings, to the victory of the Cross; and seal us in the kingdom of the glory among the servants of thy Cross, O crucified Lord, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, almighty, eternal, world without end. Amen.
May God bless you today as you step out in faith.
Object of fast: Worry
Moving from Apprehension and Anxiety to Trust and Reliance
Commitment: Do not worry. Worry takes up more of our time than we think. To not worry can be a difficult thing, especially as a student. Your time is not your own. You always have projects, deadlines, exams, work schedules, and your future to think about. It can become overwhelming to have so many uncertainties in life and thoughts can be consumed by it. But Jesus tells us that at its core, worry is simply a lack of trust in God Almighty. Today, refrain from thinking about the future. Do what you need to do today. Live in the present moment. If you have certain problems or issues that keep creeping up in your mind, simply take them to the Lord instead of wasting energy worrying about them. The Lord will take care of you.
Reading: Matthew 6:25-34.
Prayer: Today’s prayer comes from Brooke Foss Wescott (1825-1901)
O Lord God, in whom we live and move and have our being, open our eyes that we may behold thy fatherly presence ever about us. Draw our hearts to thee with the power of love. Teach us in nothing to be anxious; and when we have done what thou hast given us to do, help us, O God our Savior, to leave the issue to thy wisdom. Take from us all doubt and distrust. Lift our thoughts up to thee, and make us know that all things are possible to us, in and through the Son our redeemer, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
May the Lord of all good things, the One who provides for us all we need to grow and become what we were designed to be, grant you courage today to not worry about anything as you learn to live fully in a trusting relationship with Him.
Object of Fast: Worldly sexuality
Moving from Sexual Objects to Sexual Beings
Commitment: Refrain from seeing the opposite gender the way the world presents it. The world uses sexuality as a weapon of power and manipulation. The popular adage “sex sells” is absolutely true. Movies, magazines, etc. teach us that sex is not only a weapon but it is a commodity that we can barter and trade for our instant pleasure. God,
who designed our sexuality, has a much different purpose in mind. Suggestions for today: do not watch movies, look at magazines, watch television, look at billboards, or anything that uses sex to sell itself. Filter it out. Begin to see the opposite gender as sexual beings (someone’s daughter or grandson who God designed to enjoy sex within the confines of the bond of marriage) not as sexual objects (devoid of worth outside of the sexual arena).
Reading: Genesis 2:22-25
Prayer: Today’s prayer comes from The Gelasian Sacramentary (5th century)
Lord, we beseech thee, grant thy people grace to withstand the temptations of this world, the flesh and the devil, and with pure hearts and minds to follow thee, the only God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
May the God who created you with sexual desire in mind, show you today what that sexuality is designed for and how it is only one aspect of being His child.