“I’ve never done that,” said one friend when I suggested fasting. “Will you tell me how?”
At L’Abri Fellowship, Francis Schaeffer’s retreat in Switzerland, every Monday was a day of fasting and prayer. Residents went off alone to spend time with the Lord. A pot of soup prepared ahead of time was available for any who felt faint, but cooks were free to spend their day in prayer as well.
But fasting doesn’t have to be an all-day thing. You can skip a meal and spend the time in prayer instead. You can fast until sundown (the end of the day in the old Jewish reckoning) and then eat a normal dinner with your family.
I am not an experienced faster. I have only done this a few times in my life when there was something that I felt deeply about and wanted to bring before the Lord. What I like about it is that every time my stomach growls is a reminder to pray. But you can set other triggers for prayer. In this day of cell phones, a timer that dings every hour can be a reminder.
You won’t want to say the same thing over and over to God. It might help to make a list ahead of time of people or aspects you want to pray about. If you are more disciplined than I am, you might try scrolling through your FB feed or news page and, instead of liking or commenting, pray over every relevant post. Better yet, type your prayer in the comments. Wouldn’t that shake things up?
Or pray over scripture. Over the years I have prepared a notebook of verses on God’s names and attributes. On Wednesday I will be sitting with that notebook, praying things like “God, you are all powerful; this problem is not too big for you.” “You are the God of all comfort. Wrap your arms around those who are hurting, both those who have lost loved ones this week and those whose pain could easily lead them to future violence.” If you would like a copy of my verses for your own use in prayer, contact me.
Every hour from 6 AM to 6 PM on Wednesday I plan to release a new post on my Facebook page Birch Island Books with a prayer based on who God is. I will make every effort not to push my personal point-of-view in my prayers, but to stay open to what God has for us as a nation. I challenge you to add your prayers in the comments. Any comments that are not addressed to God will be deleted. If your ideas don’t feel appropriate to voice to him, then maybe you need to rethink those ideas.
Make a plan that works for you and join me in prayer on February 21. We have an alternative to ranting, an alternative to doing nothing. Let's meet at Jesus's feet.