Forty days of fasting and prayer

Beginning Wednesday, August 7 through Sunday, September 15, OHBC will be conducting a church-wide 40 Day Fast. We will spend several weeks fasting and praying together, asking God to do a powerful work in and through OHBC. You can commit to fasting and praying with us by signing up using the form below or in the church lobby before or after one of our weekend services.

What is fasting?

In his excellent book on spiritual disciplines, Donald Whitney offers the following definition of fasting: “Fasting is when we hunger for God—for a fresh encounter with God, for God to answer a prayer, for God to save someone, for God to work powerfully in our church, for God to guide us or protect us—more than we hunger for the food God made us to live on.”

Essentially, fasting is giving up something of significance (usually food) for the purpose of more fully devoting ourselves to God through prayer and other spiritual disciplines.

Why fast?

Most of us are familiar with the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6. But chances are we’re not as familiar with what Jesus says next: “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites…But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret” (Matthew 6:16-18).

Did you catch that? Jesus expects his followers to fast! Just like prayer, reading Scripture, and gathering for worship, fasting is a spiritual discipline that should be consistently practiced by followers of Jesus. But not only did Jesus teach on fasting, he practiced it! In Matthew 4, we read that Jesus fasted for forty days and nights prior to being tempted in the desert.

In short, we fast because Jesus himself fasted and expects his followers to do the same.

How do I fast?

In Scripture, fasting is generally understood as giving up food. While abstaining from food is the primary method of fasting, the concept of fasting can take a variety of forms. As we begin our 40 Day Fast, here are some considerations of things to abstain from:

  • Food (giving up food entirely on the day you've committed to fast or giving up one meal per day for the entirety of the 40 days)
  • Social media
  • Television and other forms of media
  • Sleep (waking up earlier or staying up later to pray)

The important thing to remember is that the goal of fasting is not just to “do without” something. The goal of fasting is to give up something in order to more fully devote our time and attention on prayer and worship. Donald Whitney reminds us, “Fasting must always have a spiritual purpose—a God-centered purpose, not a self-centered one.”