This 40-day Lenten devotional can be used as a sermon series or study, have you chosen a theme for your Wednesday night lent services? If you need a theme, some scripture ideas, and would like to get the congregation reading together and invested in a spiritual practice, consider Learning to Fast Again,
This follows my earlier devotional, Learning to Pray Again, also available on Amazon in paperback or digital form.
Warning: discussing fasting can be triggering for people with any disorders. Be kind to yourself.
Everyone fasts every night. In the morning we break our fast. This 40-day devotional explores fasting as a spiritual practice that has commonly been used by Christians around the world. It explores characters in scripture in their fasts, a veritable Who’s Who of the Bible.. A good topic for Lent.
There is a lot of material here, and 40 scripture passages to choose from, but here is one outline for how this might be used at Wednesday Lenten services this year:
Ash Wednesday, February 22, 2023 – Fasting for Repentance
Use the text from Joel, chapter 4 in the book. Reflect on Jesus fast, chapters 5 and seven in the book. Share your own experience with fasting for spiritual purposes. Encourage people to read daily. Invite them to come on Wednesdays.
Wednesday, March 1, 2023 – Various Kinds of Fasts
Philippians 3:18–21. Law: the God of the belly. Our appetite for more. Trying to fill our spiritual need with things. Gospel: God fills us up. It is by dying to ourselves and emptying ourselves that we find life. Discuss the nazirite vow, fasting from certain foods, from alcohol, from words, from media.
Wednesday, March 8, 2023 – Fasting for Justice
Daniel 1:5–8. Read the chapters on Daniel and Queen Esther. Fasting as a response to an unjust, hungry world, where some have too much and others have too little. Food choices as a response to Jesus’ call to feed the hungry. Isaiah 58 is another great text and resource. Isaiah says, a fast of phony religiosity not a godly fast.
Wednesday, March 15, 2023 – Joyful Fasting
Zechariah 8:18-19. We often think of fasting as repentance in sackcloth and ashes, or fasting while mourning. We see it as a heavy lift. The Scriptures see fasting is a joyful response to the grace of God, poured into our lives.
Wednesday, March 22, 2023 – Unintentional Fasting
2 Corinthians 6:4–5. Because of shipwrecks, because of famine, and for other reasons, Paul has to go without many kinds of things. Sometimes we fast not by choice. Paul sees blessing in this nevertheless.
Consider a Sunday morning or mid-week study. People will get more out of it if they can discuss what they’re reading and process their own experience with fasting.