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  • Paul Taylor

Day 1: You CAN fast!

Updated: Jan 11

“Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. Her husband died when they had been married only seven years. Then she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer. She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.” Luke 2:36-38

I grew up attending church and hearing a lot about God and Jesus. I sat in Sunday school classrooms with felt boards (Google it if you are too young to have ever seen one!), sweet Sunday school teachers, and other kids dressed in their Sunday best. I then went from my class to “Big Church” as we called it, and sat with all the adults in the pews and listened to the pastor preach and the choir sing. I can honestly say that throughout my entire childhood, youth and early adult years, I never did one study or heard one sermon on fasting!

We actually did a whole lot of eating in the churches I was a part of! The thought of not eating anything or certain things for any period of time seemed so radical. “Only monks and zealots fast,” I thought to myself– no, wait, I never even thought about fasting!

That may be your story, and I am so thrilled that you are reading this and that you’ve decided to embark on this 21-day journey of prayer and fasting. Whether this is your first time trying to fast or it’s your regular rhythm every January, I want to encourage you to approach your season of fasting confident that you can fast!

One of the obscure stories around the birth of Jesus is found in Luke 2. Jesus had just been born and Mary and Joseph brought him to the temple in Jerusalem to be dedicated to the Lord and to fulfill some customs found in the law. As they arrived at the temple, an elderly widow named Anna excitedly greets them and prophesies that their little baby boy is the hope of the world! (Luke 2:38).

I love what Luke says about Anna in Luke 2:37 (ESV), “She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.” Unlike my experience growing up in church, Anna was very familiar with and accustomed to fasting. There is so much to Anna’s story that is worth reflecting on: she dealt with the loss of a spouse, she never had children, and she understood disappointment. Anna was familiar with pain, but never stopped pursuing God and had a passion for His presence and purpose in the world.

But what I want you to see in her story and be encouraged by in your fasting journey is her dedication to making fasting a regular part of her spiritual disciplines and worship. She worshiped with fasting and prayer day and night. It was while she was fasting and praying, while she was being obedient to what God had asked, that Anna got to see Jesus and experience His presence literally in her life. If an elderly woman (some scholars insist that she stayed in God’s house from the time she lost her husband, meaning that those 84 years were after she was widowed, so she may have been more than 100!) can fast and pray, so can you!

You can fast! As you undertake this 21-day journey, know that God’s power and presence are available to each of you as you invite Him to change your life, your circumstances, and our city. I can’t wait to see how He moves in your life!

Pray with me: "Lord, would you give me the strength to fast over these next 21 days. Would you grow an awareness in me of my need for you as my body longs for [whatever you are fasting from]. Help me to live in the reality of your presence with me by your Spirit at all times. Amen."


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