Nickey (my wife) and I courted for two years and nine months before we got married on December 30, 2006. This was much longer than we expected because it took some time for our parents to give us their blessing on the relationship. Let me tell you, it was frustrating and exhilarating at the same time: frustrating because we experienced so many obstacles in the process and yet exhilarating because we were building a romantic friendship with each other. The frustration and exhilaration combined into a growing longing that was finally fulfilled on our wedding day.
That feeling of longing- both frustration and exhilaration- is why Jesus said his disciples ought to fast. In Matthew 9:14-17, John the Baptist’s disciples asked Jesus why they and the Pharisees fasted but Jesus’ disciples did not.
Jesus’ reply was simply, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast” (Mt 9:15, ESV).
Jesus’ disciples fast now because they are temporarily and partially separated from their King and Savior and they long for His Kingdom to be finally consummated. Therefore, fasting specifically does two things inside the soul of a disciple.
First, fasting creates a greater desire for Jesus Christ himself. We abstain from the “lesser” things to make room for “feasting” on Jesus. When we deny ourselves food and social media, we have more of our hearts, souls, mind, and strength to spend loving, worshiping, communing, and serving the Lord Jesus.
Second, fasting trains Jesus’ disciples to be vigilant for their King’s return. The regular practice of fasting strengthens the habit of denying ourselves of the temporary so we can faithfully obey Jesus daily, waiting for our eternal reward. It prevents apathy towards the Gospel by exposing our need for Him. It heightens our sensitivity to God’s priorities.
This is why we the have our “One Desire Fast” (ODF), an annual season of fasting across our HMCC family of churches. HMCC of Jakarta will fast from Saturday, January 17 until Thursday, January 29. Here are some of the specific details about the fast:
- 1/17-29 – social media fast (abstaining from Facebook, Twitter, Path, Instagram, etc.)
- 1/17-22 – meat fast (abstaining from all meats)
- 1/22-29 – liquid fast (consuming only liquids)
- The fast will be a 24-hour fast (unlike last year which went from 6AM-6PM)
- Each phase of the fast (the kick-off on 1/17, the meat fast from 1/17-22, the liquid fast from 1/22-29, and the ending on 1/29) will start and end at sundown.
- These fasting guidelines are a baseline, meaning we are giving you the flexibility to add/subtract and specify with respect to the social media, meat, and liquid fast as the Lord convicts you.
I also want to share some practical principles regarding the fast that will be important to keep in the forefront of our minds and hearts.
First, we want you to have a personal focus as you participate in the ODF. How is your sinfulness getting exposed? How must I develop my faith and relationship with Jesus? What decisions and issues do I need to regularly pray for during the fast?
Second, think and pray through what you will fast from that will help you the most and what you will do to feast on Jesus. How will you set aside time to pray and read your Bible? How can you get accountability and incorporate others in your fasting and feasting (e.g. praying together)?
Third, keep the heart of the fast! This means to make your focus on feasting on Jesus, not legally keeping the “rules” of fasting. It’s tempting to externally fast from things but still have your heart very far away from God. Keeping the heart of the fast also means to make your focus on pleasing Jesus, not comparing yourself or seeking others’ approval. Jesus taught in Matthew 6:16-18 to not put the focus on yourself when you fast (e.g. repeatedly saying to others, “I’m so hungry!”
We also want you to have a corporate focus as our church fasts together. There are some important corporate prayer items that we need to lift up to the Lord together as an HMCC of Jakarta family.
- Karawaci campus: effective discipleship of individuals in all life stages, fruitful evangelism in UPH and our community in 2015
- Grogol campus church plant: formation of church plant team and core group, growth of Untar student and Focus LIFE groups in 2015
- Transformation Vision targets: faithful stewardship of financial resources, generous giving of church members in 2015
From day one of our church’s existence, we’ve desperately depended on the Lord for everything. We want to continue to nurture that kind of spirit in our church during this upcoming season and until He returns!