Preparing for the Fast

What is Fasting?

Virtually every religion in the world practices fasting of some form. Even non-religious people fast for political and health reasons. So why should Christians participate in this practice?

In the Old Testament, the primary Hebrew word is tsom, which means “to abstain from food.” In the New Testament, the Greek word for “fast” is nesteuo, which means “to abstain from eating.” In both, fasting is merely going without food to seek God for a special reason. It is the abstinence from food with a spiritual goal: to seek God earnestly in prayer. In his book, The Power of Prayer and Fasting, Ronnie Floyd writes, “[Fasting] is when I pursue the God of Heaven to do something powerful and supernatural in and through my life and the life of others.”

When scripture refers to fasting, it generally refers to abstaining from food. However, Jesus said some people would hear the word of God and a desire will be awakened in their hearts, but then we are easily distracted. Luke 8:14 warns us “As they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life.” And Mark 4:19 states, “The desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.” Pleasures in life like hobbies and entertainment and non-spiritual desires such as fitness and sports are not evil in themselves. These are not vices. These are gifts of God that enrich our lives. But all of them can become deadly substitutes for God. Therefore, fasting or abstaining highlights the things we tend to lean on, revealing how God fulfills us in ways the ‘pleasures of life’ cannot.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899– 1981), the pastor of Westminster Chapel in London, said, “Fasting, if we conceive of it truly, must not . . . be confined to the question of food and drink; fasting should be made to include abstinence from anything legitimate in and of itself for the sake of some special spiritual purpose. Many bodily functions are right, normal, and legitimate but should be controlled for special, peculiar reasons in certain circumstances. That is fasting.”


We must use discretion as to why we are fasting since it is a practice deeply tied to the heart. In Luke 18:12-14 Jesus tells us a story of two men. One said, “I fast twice a week,” and the other said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” Only one went down to his house justified. We’ve missed the point if we fast out of a desire for religious performance. Fasting concerns surrendering dependence and hunger for His mercy and transformation.

The Bible’s most important word on fasting comes in Matthew 9:14–17. Using two parables, Jesus addresses the issues of when and why to fast. John Piper summarized this teaching: “What’s new about fasting is that it rests on all the finished work of the Bridegroom (Jesus). The yearning we feel for revival, awakening, or deliverance from corruption is not merely longing and aching. The first fruits of what we long for have already come. The down payment of what we yearn for is already paid. The fullness we are longing for in fasting has appeared in history and we have beheld Jesus in His glory. It is not merely future. We have tasted the powers of the kingdom to come, and so our renewed fasting is not because we are hungry for something we have not tasted, but because the new wine of Jesus’ presence is so real and satisfying. We have tasted it so wonderfully by his Spirit and cannot now be satisfied until the consummation of joy arrives.”

When we fast from food or abstain from human desires, it creates sacred intentional space to encounter the Lord in formational friendship. We discover the power of fasting when we have a heart to draw near to our King. This is expressed beautifully in Psalm 63 (worth memorizing while you fast), “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food.” (Psalm 63:1– 5)

What is Bridgeway's Annual 40-Day Fast?

Every year at Bridgeway, we invite our church family to participate in a 40-day fast in preparation for our Regional Worship, Prayer and Healing Gathering. We want to go into that event as close to the Lord as possible.

We desire to pray intensely for ourselves, our neighborhoods, our church, our region, our country and the world during the 40-Day Fast. We want to hear God’s voice and see Him move. We want Him to heal any issue He wants to heal and any situation He wants to correct. We are in His hands; He is the author of these days and is connected intimately with us in this formative time of worship, prayer, and healing.

At Bridgeway, we focus on two types of fasts before the Regional Worship Prayer and Healing Gathering:

40 Days of Experiential Fasting – This is 40 days of removing something from your life that may distract you from hearing God’s voice. It could be something sinful you struggle with that God has asked you to turn from. We invite you to repent during these 40 days, submit it to Him, and deny yourself. Alternatively, you can remove something that is not inherently sinful but may negatively impact your life or take too much attention (sweets, social media, caffeine, etc.).

Food Fasting on Monday – Each Monday during the 40 days, we are fasting from food during that day (so, you eat a meal on Sunday evening, and then your next meal is Monday evening or Tuesday morning). If you are new to fasting or have medical concerns, you may need to fast one meal on Monday or make other dietary modifications. The goal is not to be unhealthy, so please adjust your fasting goals to avoid anything that could create a health challenge. Food fasting aims to deprive yourself in some way and allow your hunger to remind you of your need for God’s presence.

What are the Purposes of the 40-Day Fast?

There are several purposes of the 40-Day Fast

1. To repent of anything that has made our hearts cold towards God. Broken and contrite hearts lay the foundation for a great move of God. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.

2. To commit ourselves to the work of seeking unity in the body of Christ. In these divisive and uncertain times, we must model unity for a watching world by remaining united as a church and uniting with churches throughout our region.

3. To seek God’s face for revival in our land, that He would pour out His Holy Spirit in power on His church, His people, and our broken and dry land. We seek an increase in deliverance from sin, in the blessing of His presence in our lives, and a great harvest of lost souls.

Ultimately, we want to prepare our hearts, pray, and hear God’s voice during this time! Through fasting, we can increase our attentiveness to God’s Spirit because when we notice something missing, it can remind us to turn our attention to Him. We believe this period of intentionally seeking the Lord will allow us to enter the Regional Worship, Prayer, and Healing Gathering ready to encounter Him!

What Should I Fast From?

In this short video – recorded prior to our 2020 40-Day Fast – Pastor Heather Johnson gives some helpful tips you can use to decide what to fast from.

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