Good morning, Five Minute Families. Did any of you choose to enter into a season of fasting? Are you still planning how to fast as a family? Join us this morning as we continue our deep-dive into fasting. We are using FAST as an acronym to discuss this oft-forgotten spiritual discipline. F - First things first, A - accountability, S - satisfaction, and T - trust.
We are to the A - accountability. Please note that when we are talking about fasting accountability, we are not talking about the need for someone to take responsibility for wrong behavior. We know through numerous verses in scripture that fasting is supposed to be a part of the believer’s life; thus, fasting is a spiritual discipline, not a punishment. And, as a discipline, it is a skill and set of details to be learned. As such, that skill can be evaluated and reviewed and improved upon. THAT is what we mean by fasting accountability. Just as in any other area of life, parents and children working together to grow in knowledge, love, and wisdom is the goal.
Before we go further, just as last week, a word of caution - please remember that while we are encouraging food fasting for everyone during a family fast, when children participate in a fast, parents must be watchful, careful, and guiding of their children. Children should not be going into a caloric restriction or prolonged time of fasting. They are growing and changing and need food much more frequently than adults do. We are suggesting sugary treats, drinks, or only one specific food group being limited.
So, back to accountability… how do we engage in accountability during a family fast:
First, set aside time early in each fasting day to encourage one another specifically in the food fast just as 1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells us: “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
Second, in a personal fast, we are cautioned in Matthew 6 to keep our fast secret or quiet. But, within the family for teach-ability and accountability, we need to stay open and vocal about what we are experiencing. For example, parents, we can say, out loud, “wow I am so hungry right now, so I am going to take this moment to pray.” Or, when your child comes up and asks for a piece of candy, lovingly and gently remind him or her that this is a time of fasting and asking them if they would like to pray with you instead.
Third, at the end of each fasting day or timeframe, review how each of you did. Jeremiah 17:10 reassures us to let “the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” Again, in the mindset of accountability, this is to encourage each person to be honest with him or herself as well as receive feedback about what they can do the next time the family has a fasting time.
Fourth, just as with any devotion or time of learning for children, it is best to keep any discussion focus on only one point, so if you are chatting with your child their lack of sticking with the fast, you need to keep the discussion short, explaining again why God encourages us to fast, praying together for encouragement to try again, and then moving on. James 5:16 states, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
And, finally, don’t forget to keep the purpose of your family fast in the forefront of your minds and ask God to bring clarity and revelation, even during the accountability discussion times.
Five-minute families, remember fasting is about cultivating a hunger for God. Just as He describes a land flowing with milk and honey, we want ourselves and our children to realize the rich sweetness of being filled by God. We must be cautious and conscientious in our accountability with one another during a time of family fasting.
We thank you for joining us this week. Next week, we will explore how to find our satisfaction in the Lord during a time of fasting and prayer. We pray that God enlightens your hearts and draws you closer to Him and one another in the coming week. We also encourage you to pray about your family daily and begin to plan your next steps of family discipleship. Maybe a visit to Clear View Retreat would be one of your next steps. Contact us for more information. And, be blessed!