21 Days of Prayer and Fasting: Corporately and Personally
Corporate Prayer and Fasting
My church, Elevate Life, is doing a time of corporate prayer and fasting for 21 days starting August 9th. From my understanding, most churches connected to ARC usually do this in January. But it seems like, with all that is going on, they decided to do another one this month. I am honestly shocked that it took this long for us to have one. Here is what my church says:
Together, we faithfully seek God first, trusting in His power alone to create lasting impact in our lives, our church, and our world. From the beginning of Elevate Life Church, we have made it a priority to seek God first in prayer. We are doing this collectively as a church August 9 – August 29.
Personal Prayer and Fasting
For the past few years, with this church and my previous church home, I have participated in the January 21 days of prayer and fasting. And I have periodically fasted some throughout the years. Both for spiritual clarification and health reasons. This time will be a mixture of both but will lean heavily on the spiritual side. Spiritually, I kind of feel all over the place with my relationship with God. I’m not doing anything wrong, but I feel like it is time for me to mature a little bit in my spiritual growth. And since I’ve had that feeling, I’ve been kind of floundering. I know I need to bring it to God and then lay at His feet for an answer.
While studying the book of Daniel, I got a better idea of where the 21 days came from and the connection to the Daniel fast. Previously, when I would ask, I was always pointed to Daniel 1, when Daniel refused to defile himself with the King’s food and asked for a test of only veggies and water. But scripture is clear. That was only for ten days. Well, in Daniel 10, I got my answer:
In the third year of King Cyrus of Persia, a message was revealed to Daniel, who was named Belteshazzar. The message was true and was about a great conflict. He understood the message and had understanding of the vision. In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for three full weeks. I didn’t eat any rich food, no meat or wine entered my mouth, and I didn’t put any oil on my body until the three weeks were over. – Daniel 10:1-3 CSB
The main reason I wanted to write about what I am doing (elsewhere in the Bible it says not to let other’s know you are fasting) is that I started to work on what I wanted my 21 days to look like and thought it would be beneficially to share my process.
The very first thing I did was go to God in prayer. I laid out what I wanted to get from this time but left it open to receive what it is that I need from this time.
Fasting in the Bible – Physically
I’m going to refer back to Daniel because that is where it gives us the details on what I can and cannot eat. Daniel 1 says:
…Let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink…
At the end of ten days they looked better and healthier than all the young men who were eating the king’s food. So the guard continued to remove their food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables.
Daniel 10 says:
I didn’t eat any rich food, no meat or wine entered my mouth, and I didn’t put any oil on my body until the three weeks were over.
Diving deeper into the cross-references, it is clear that this fast is no meat, wine, fat, or blood. Right now, I have a lot of frozen items that can be used for smoothies. Last year I did a 10-day smoothie cleanse that I will most likely do again. I plan to meal prep my 21 days out, gather all of the ingredients, and place small orders for what I need to purchase. Planning this part ahead reduces my chances of falling off the wagon food-wise.
Fasting in the Bible – Spiritually
I wrote previously about what I learned about fasting earlier this year. I needed a refresher. I wanted to make sure I was approaching this fast biblically. Here is Isaiah 58:
“Why have we fasted, but you have not seen?We have denied ourselves, but you haven’t noticed!”These are Israel’s words to God.
“Look, you do as you please on the day of your fast,and oppress all your workers.You fast with contention and strifeto strike viciously with your fist.You cannot fast as you do today,hoping to make your voice heard on high.Will the fast I choose be like this:A day for a person to deny himself,to bow his head like a reed,and to spread out sackcloth and ashes?Will you call this a fastand a day acceptable to the Lord?Isn’t this the fast I choose:To break the chains of wickedness,to untie the ropes of the yoke,to set the oppressed free,and to tear off every yoke?Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,to bring the poor and homeless into your house,to clothe the naked when you see him,and not to ignore your own flesh and blood?Then your light will appear like the dawn,and your recovery will come quickly.Your righteousness will go before you,and the Lord’s glory will be your rear guard.
At that time, when you call, the Lord will answer;when you cry out, he will say, ‘Here I am.’If you get rid of the yoke among you,the finger-pointing and malicious speaking,and if you offer yourself to the hungry,and satisfy the afflicted one,then your light will shine in the darkness,and your night will be like noonday.The Lord will always lead you,satisfy you in a parched land,and strengthen your bones.You will be like a watered gardenand like a spring whose water never runs dry.Some of you will rebuild the ancient ruins;you will restore the foundations laid long ago;you will be called the repairer of broken walls,the restorer of streets where people live.
“If you keep from desecrating the Sabbath,from doing whatever you want on my holy day;if you call the Sabbath a delight,and the holy day of the Lord honorable;if you honor it, not going your own ways,seeking your own pleasure, or talking business;then you will delight in the Lord,and I will make you ride over the heights of the land,and let you enjoy the heritage of your father Jacob.”For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
This time of prayer and fasting comes at a perfect time for me. Taking a step back and spending intentional time with God is something that frequently provides me with a reset. Corporately, with what is happening around the world with the COVID pandemic and in our nation with racial and social injustice, it was needed. Personally, while things have been okay, it is always a good thing for me to plug in with God to make sure that I am still following the path that He is leading me on. I hope that you can join us, and the resources that I provided are helpful during your time of fasting and prayer.