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Discipleship, Prayer, The Big Questions

Why Are Believers Called To Fast?

Pancakes, eggs, bacon, toast—am I the only one who wakes up thinking about food? First thing in the morning, I start thinking about food! We live in an age where eating is an event!Happy times, let’s eat! Feeling sad, let’s eat. It’s sunny outside, let’s go eat! We love gathering around a table; it’s no wonder why fasting isn’t a widely practiced discipline. Adults rarely speak of the importance of it, so it’s typically not on our teen girls’ radar either. It’s no secret that we need food but choosing NOT to eat can actually draw us closer to God. As leaders and moms we have the opportunity to share more about this important discipline. I wanted to provide a couple of tips for you on sharing the “why” and “how” of fasting with your girls.

“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry” (Matt. 4:1-2).

The What and Why

Fasting is the removal of something from your life so that you can spend more time connecting with God. It typically involves someone choosing not to eat for a period of time in order to focus their attention on God and off worldly things. Fasting is a spiritual discipline that is always connected to prayer.And yes, fasting often makes people feel “super spiritual” and they proudly want to tell others. But fasting is a devoted time between you and God, and Jesus warns us against sharing about it with others (Matt. 6:15-18).

If you are familiar with the story of Esther, recap it with your girls.

Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go and gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die” (Esth. 4:15-16).

With her and her relatives’ lives on the line, Esther responded by fasting and praying. What a powerful way to decide to live what could be your last days on Earth. The girls in your small group likely aren’t in such an intense spot, but they probably have hard things they are facing. Maybe her parents are facing a divorce, a family member just received a devastating diagnosis, or a parent lost their job? Point her to the power of fasting as a powerful way to spend time seeking, praying to, and worshipping Him.

The How

Many people fast in a manner where they don’t eat for a period of time, but please be clear with your girls that fasting is NOT a diet. Some people fast from things like tv, games, social media. (These are great options to share because we want to be mindful of girls who may struggle with eating disorders.) Your girls may think they can’t live without social media but share with them that fasting is giving up to fill up.

Fasting is a spiritual discipline that requires us to give up something to fill up our time with the best thing—time with God. This may be a newer concept for your girls so there are ideas below you can share with them. Also, encourage them to spend time praying about their motive for fasting, how they should fast, and how long their fast should last.

Lastly, I know fasting isn’t a glamorous topic, but remind your girls of what is true. They will be exchanging time scrolling and looking at other people’s lives to spend time with the One who gives life. It will be a sweet time for them to connect, pause, and reflect with God. There is no better use of our time than spending it with the One who gives us time. Important Note: If a student is planning to do a food fast—please encourage her to talk it over with her parents so that they are aware of her decision.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, IL 60188. All rights reserved.

Nikki Tigg

Nikki Tigg is an MTSU grad and currently lives in Murfreesboro, TN with her husband and son. She felt called to serve in High School Ministry in 2012 and led co-ed and girls groups. She has been Student Ministry Associate at New Vision Baptist Church since July 2017. Nikki has a passion for helping girls understand their identity in Christ and loves connecting with students, parents and leaders. She loves spending time with her family, decorating and enjoys an active lifestyle. Connect with Nikki: Instagram