Gooood morning, Five Minute Families. We are getting excited here at Clear View Retreat as we prepare for new family camps, marriage retreats, and more as 2022 begins to book up. Each family’s unique purposes and identities are causes for celebration and encouragement, and through discussing and applying God’s relationship principles, we can deepen our family discipleship and biblical community. Please check out more information about our ministry at clearviewretreat.org.
For this week, Jim and I both thought we had discussed biblical fasting with you before, our fabulous five-minute families, but other than a couple of passing references and one devo about digital fasting, we couldn’t find an in-depth discussion about that. So, for February we are going to deep-dive into fasting. We are going to use FAST as an acronym to discuss fasting. F - First things first, A - accountability, S - satisfaction, and T - trust.
Matthew 6:16 begins with “when you fast.” It does not begin “if you fast.” The verses before this also say, “when you give” and “when you pray.” That means we need to take a moment and evaluate how well we are pursuing fasting as a clearly biblical behavior.
Please note that while we are encouraging food fasting throughout this series, it is not wise or safe for children to fast in the same way that adults do. Children can fast from a particular sweet treat (or all sweet treats), depending on their ages and needs. Children can forego all beverages instead of water, again, depending on their ages and specific dietary needs. You get the idea. Please don’t force your children to fast extensively or admonish them if they break whatever aspect of fasting they are striving for.
Before beginning a period of fasting together as a family, review together verses about what fasting is and is not. Acts 13:2, Daniel 10:3, Esther 4:16, Nehemiah 1:4, and Psalm 35:13 are a few of the verses to get you started. JustDisciple.com has a couple of articles that may help you get started. One is titled ‘Types of Christian Fasting & What’s Right for You’ and the other is ‘How to Honor God With Your Fasting & 20 Tips for Beginners.’
Discuss the various reasons for fasting. As we stated in our Digital Fast devotional: “In different examples of fasting in Scripture, we see different purposes for fasting. Acts 14:23 illustrates fasting to seek God’s wisdom. In Ezra, God’s people are seeking deliverance or protection. In Jonah, the people of Nineveh fasted to repent and ask God to save them. When the Israelites in Judges 20 needed help to gain victory over their enemies, they fasted first.” Make sure you discuss YOUR reason for entering into your family fast. As you can tell from Scripture, the reason may change from fast to fast, but you must be aware of the reason.
Just as we mentioned before specifically about children, each person’s needs - adults included - should be evaluated to see how he or she can best participate in a family food fast. If someone has medication to take with food, that person must have food. Someone who is experiencing hypoglycemia needs to eat. Some of these examples may seem obvious, but unfortunately, there are people who in their eagerness or desire for exactness must hear that they are not failing in a fast if exceptions or modifications need to be made.
When your family fasts may change depending on life circumstances. Some families have a standard time of year that they enter into a season of fasting. Some families only fast when they are part of a church family that is fasting together. Some families enter into a mindfulness of fasting once a week or once a month.
Start small. For example, we named this devotional the Five Minute Family to encourage families to start with five intentional minutes a day, buuuut we don’t want you to stop at five minutes. We want those five minutes to snowball into habits of positive, godly interactions. So, just as with the five-minute concept, start small with your first family fast. Starting small may mean for only one day, or it may mean to fast from only one food type. Be prayerful together about what God is leading you into.
Our past pastor’s wife spoke at an event, and she shared how she had had no direction about what to share for this special ladies’ lunch, and so she began fasting, and then she said, “but, I just got so very hungry, I ate some food! Ladies, I was hungry!” She went on to explain how even in her quote unquote failure to fast, God met her and shared a specific set of verses He wanted her to focus on for her talk. She went on to speak of the lesson for the day. But, the biggest lesson for me that day was that the only failed fast is the one not undertaken.
We do thank you for joining us this morning and Be blessed!