Monday, February 3, 2014

The 40-day fast challenge

When you think of fasting, you probably are thinking ---starvation! ha!

While the most common thing to fast is food (most of the examples in the Bible we see are those fasting from food completely), I have personally included other things to fast from. Daniel tells us he fasted (Daniel 9, 10), Nehemiah fasted (Nehemiah 1), and we know Jesus fasted for 40 days (Matthew 4); and there are many verses in the Bible on the etiquette of fasting and the spiritual benefits of fasting.

Fasting is setting out a time where you deprive yourself in sacrifice to God something (most commonly food) to commit your focus and prayer-life to the Lord. Each year I like to do a 40-day fast challenge and choose something to give up for 40 days. I find that this helps me realign myself mentally and spiritually.

My challenge to you
This year, I would like to invite you to join me in a 40-day fast challenge. When was the last time you fasted for 40-days? Statistically it is said that it takes 21 days to create a habit, and so this may be the perfect opportunity for you to create healthier habits and detox from things that are taking up your precious time - time that you can be using toward a healthier prayer life, intentional relationships with friends and family, start writing the book you always talk about doing, sit in silence with the Lord, take a vacation, etc.

What is taking up your attention?
What luxuries have you been indulging in? What things have been screaming for your attention that are distractions? Take a moment to think about these things. One (or more) may be just the thing you need to fast from.

What should you give up/sacrifice for 40 days?
Every year I try to choose something different, but for the past two years my item has been the same: social networking ---one year I did chocolate, another year I only did a vegetarian diet. Choosing what you are going to give up is probably the hardest step toward making a commitment for your 40-day fast. Luckily, I found a blog that has been a great resource to me to trigger ideas on what to fast. A lot of these ideas deal with deeper issues such as gratefulness, balance and character. I have pasted the blog below and you can find the original blog here.

Lifestyle and fasting ideas for My Best 30 Ever

The Usuals:

  1. Give up candy/sweets.
  2. Give up television time.
  3. Give up eating snacks between meals.
  4. Give up or limit soda or coffee.
  5. Give up or limit video games.
  6. Spend more time with family.
  7. Give to the poor. (Haiti would be a good one)
  8. Do an extra chore each day.
  9. Perform a random act of kindness.
  10. Spend more time in prayer.


  1. Make a special prayer notebook and list all the people in your life who need prayers; pray for them each day. Add someone new every day.

For Those Addicted to Popular Culture

  1. Switch from regular radio to Christian music radio.
  2. Avoid shows with gratuitous sex or violence.
  3. Give up or limit watching sports on television.
  4. Listen to only classical music for the next 30 days.
  5. Drive to work in silence each day.
  6. Read a work of classic literature.
  7. Read a story to a child.
  8. Sit in fifteen minutes of silence each day.
  9. Write a letter to God each day.

For Internet Users/Bloggers

  1. Set time limits on overall online time.
  2. Limit Facebook time.
  3. Limit Myspace time.
  4. Resist making or adding to lists that rank people.
  5. Share one spiritual video with your online network once a week.
  6. Blog about the poor once a week.
  7. Add a spiritual blog to your blog reader.
  8. Leave an encouraging or positive comment on a different blog each day.
  9. Help a new blogger by sending traffic their way.

For Those Who Need to Be More Grateful

  1. Each week write a thank-you note to your parents.
  2. Write a poem of praise for each person in your family.
  3. Get a stack of sticky-notes and write one sentence of thanks each day and stick it to the bedroom door of each person in your family.
  4. Find the psalms of thanksgiving or praise in the Bible and pray them.
  5. Write a list of the ways God has blessed you and add to it each day. This could be done in a notebook or on a big poster hanging on your wall.
  6. At dinner each evening ask your family to share one thing for which they are grateful.
  7. Make a CD or iPod playlist of praise and worship music and listen to it each day.
  8. Make a point of saying “Thank You” a certain number of times per day.
  9. Help your children write thank you letters to their teachers.

For Those With Lives Out of Balance

  1. Go for a walk each day with a loved one and talk about life and faith.
  2. Take the kids to the park each week for some carefree time.
  3. Give up fast food and give the money to charity.
  4. Exercise each day.
  5. Spend at least half an hour each day in meaningful conversation with your spouse.
  6. Give up your most unhealthy habit


  1. Give up foul language.
  2. Give up gossiping.
  3. Cook dinner each night for your family if someone else normally does.
  4. Carry extra food in your car, purse or backpack to give to street corner beggars.
  5. Spend a week meditating on each of part of the “Lord’s Prayer”
  6. Make breakfast each morning for your family.
This list was adapted from the Catholic School Chronicle website.

Keep a journal
I would highly encourage you to free-write each day of your fast. Begin by writing down a prayer list of petitions and go on from there. Keeping track of your fast in a journal is great accountability and is a great tool to write out testimonies of answered prayers. It should be an encouraging exercise that will assist you along the way.

I know that there is true freedom to be had through fasting. I believe that whoever is reading this is in desperate need to hear and see God in their life and I believe that taking the extra step to consecrate a season to God through the sacrifice of fasting can make all the difference.


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