What Is Fasting?

Republished with permission from Prayer Force (theresponseusa.com/prayer-force/). Some excerpts taken from an article by Bill Bright and Campus Crusade for Christ, Mike Bickle and the International House of Prayer.

WHAT IS FASTING?

Fasting is the most powerful spiritual discipline of all the Christian disciplines. Although fasting is always voluntary, scripture is clear that as the people of God we will participate in fasting, but it must come from the place of revelation and personal discipline. Fasting should never be based on others revelation or a law based motivation. If you fail hit delete and start again. Fasting and prayer can also work on a much grander scale. According to Scripture, personal experience and observation, when God's people fast with a proper Biblical motive-seeking God's face not His hand-with a broken, repentant, and contrite spirit, God will hear from heaven and heal our lives, our churches, our communities, our nation and world. Fasting in the Bible is related to food. Any non-food related limiting or ceasing of things like television, internet, video games, cigarettes, etc. is the practice of abstaining. This can also be very helpful in creating more margin in one’s life for things like prayer and Bible reading.

WHY FAST? 

Because Jesus is no longer with us and we were commanded to fast for His return (Matthew 9). There are so many distractions both positive and negative in our lives that hinder our ability to hear from the Lord clearly. We have set up many idols within the Church that limit our relationship with the Lord and therefore hinder our ability to hear clearly and obey. When our flesh is satisfied, our spirit often goes hungry. We also fast so the awesome power of God can be released through us as we fast through the enabling of the Holy Spirit. 

If you do not already know of the power and importance of fasting, here are some very important facts:

  • Fasting was an expected discipline in both the Old and New Testament eras. Jesus fasted 40 days and reminded His followers to fast, "when you fast," not if you fast.
  • Fasting and prayer can restore the loss of the "first love" for your Lord and result in a more intimate relationship with Christ.
  • Fasting is a biblical way to truly humble yourself in the sight of God (Psalm 35:13; Ezra 8:21). 
  • Fasting enables the Holy Spirit to reveal your true spiritual condition, resulting in brokenness, repentance, and a transformed life.
  • Fasting can result in a dynamic personal revival in your own life-and make you a channel of revival to others.
  • Fasting and prayer are the only disciplines that fulfill the requirements of II Chronicles 7:14. 

HOW TO FAST?

As you begin your fast, you may hear from concerned loved ones and friends who urge you to protect your health. And they are right. You should protect your health. By all means, consult your doctor before you begin your fast. But, be aware that many doctors have not been trained in this area and so their understanding is limited. Even so, it would be wise to ask your doctor for a physical exam to make sure you are in good health. You may have a physical problem that would make fasting unwise or dangerous. Also, if you are under any type of medication, make sure you talk to your doctor before changing your regime. Prudence and caution are in order. When you are assured that you are in good health, you are ready to begin your fast. In spite of the absolute safety and benefits of fasting, there are certain persons who should NEVER fast without professional supervision. 

For example:

  • Persons who are physically too thin or emaciated.
  • Persons who are prone to anorexia, bulimia, or other behavioral disorders.
  • Those who suffer weakness or anemia.
  • Persons who have tumors, bleeding ulcers, cancer, blood diseases, or who have heart disease.
  • Those who suffer chronic problems with kidneys, liver, lungs, heart, or other important organs.
  • Individuals who take insulin for diabetes, or suffer any other blood sugar problem such as hyperglycemia.
  • Women who are pregnant or nursing.

YOUR SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE

Receiving God's best blessing from a fast requires solid commitment. Arranging special time each day with God is absolutely crucial in attaining intimate communion with the Father. You must devote yourself to seeking God's face, especially during those times in which you feel weak, vulnerable, or irritable. Read His Word and pray during what were mealtimes. Meditate on Him when you awake in the night. Focus on your Heavenly Father and make every act one of praise and worship. As you enter this time of heightened spiritual devotion, be aware that Satan will do everything he can to pull you away from your prayer and Bible reading time. When you feel the enemy trying to discourage you, immediately go to God in prayer and ask Him to strengthen your resolve. The focus of this Matthew 9 fast is to prepare the way for the Lord to come. By your prayers of humility, as you fast, you will not only prepare the way of the Lord but you will also help the Great Commission be fulfilled. True spiritual fasting focuses on God. Center your total being on Him, your attitudes, your actions, your motives, desires, and words. This can only take place if God and His Holy Spirit is at the center of our attention. Confess your sins as the Holy Spirit brings them to your attention and continue to focus on God and God alone so that your prayers may be powerful and effective. Your motive in fasting must be to glorify God, not to have an emotional experience, and not to attain personal happiness. When your motives are right, God will honor your seeking heart and bless your time with Him in a very special way.

Baby Dedication Guidelines & Conditions

Our Baby Blessing & Dedication is a public declaration of the parent or parents before God and man acknowledging with gratitude that the child is a gift from God.

Recognizing that as parents you need God’s wisdom and help in raising your child and with His help you will do your best to set the example for this child to follow in the way of the LORD.

The Root

Baby Blessing & Dedication at CFM is a family time when parents publicly commit themselves to abiding by biblical principles and raising their children according to God's standards. Not only are you dedicating your child to God, but you are also dedicating yourselves as parents to God.

Environment and Responsibilities

You are committing yourselves to maintaining a Christian home in which Christ is honored and the Word of God is held in reverence. Christian parents are to do all they can to “set apart” their child to God until that child can make his or her own choice regarding a relationship with Jesus Christ.

The responsibilities God has entrusted to Christian parents include continuously praying for their children (Job 1:5), instructing them in the way of the Lord (Proverbs 22:6), setting a Godly example (Proverbs 20:7), and disciplining them as the Lord would discipline us (Proverbs 29:15,17; 13:24). These responsibilities can only be fulfilled in Christ’s strength (Philippians 4:13).

This is not baptism

The Baby Blessing & Dedication at CFM does not involve baptism. We believe that baptism is meant to take place at a time when an individual makes a personal decision to follow Christ and is old enough to repent and confess Jesus publicly.

Conditions

Only a couple committed to Christ and married (a man and a woman) or a Single Parent committed to Christ and not living with someone may participate in the ceremony.

Parents who have not placed their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord will be unable to submit their children to God’s will and His ways, because they themselves do not know the ways of the Lord.  As a result, we must decline any requests to involve an unbelieving parent in the dedication of a child.

As a parent, your devotion to God—or lack of it—will make a resounding impression on your child. 

We believe that unmarried parents living together do not set a Christ-like example. Therefore, unmarried parents will be advised to separate or wait until they are married to dedicate their child. 

A believing parent may dedicate a child independently of an unbelieving spouse. 

Single parents who dedicate their children may not have boyfriends or girlfriends present with them on the platform.

We recognize that not every parent is committed to living a Christ-centered lifestyle. However, the Pastoral staff at CFM will bless every child that is brought to the office for prayer. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Why should I dedicate my child?

The Bible provides an example for us in that Mary and Joseph took baby Jesus to the temple to be dedicated to God. As followers of Christ, we also should want to make the public declaration to our family, and our church. It is invaluable to be able to tell your children as they are growing up that they belong to Jesus and that you have asked God to use them in a formal declaration.

Where in the Scripture does it say to dedicate your child?

Scripture does not mention anything about dedication of children; however, Hannah dedicated her son Samuel to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:27, 28).

Jesus was dedicated to the Lord as a baby (Luke 2:22) and baptized as an adult (Matthew 3:13-17).

In Mark 10:11-13 we read: “People were bringing little children to Jesus to have Him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, He was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth; anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it’. And He took the children in His arms, put His hand on them and blessed them.” It is primarily from this passage of Scripture that we model our service of dedication and present a child to the Lord.

How old should the child be? 

While there is no set age for a child to be presented to the Lord, children are generally presented within the first year or two of their life. 

Can I as a grandparent dedicate my grandchild?

Yes, if you have full custody and the child lives with you. The person making a public vow should be the child’s caretaker who is responsible for the upbringing of the child.

What about godparents?

There is nothing mentioned in the Bible about Godparents. Parents themselves have the responsibility to raise up their children in the things of the Lord. Some parents may like to call witnesses to confirm their commitment.

These may be relatives or loved ones who know the parents well and who themselves are Christians and faithful to the Lord. While godparents are welcome to attend the ceremony, they will not stand with the parents. There is just not sufficient space to accommodate everyone’s godparents on the stage or around the altar area.

What if I am a believer but my spouse is not?

If only one parent is a believer, the dedication of the child can be done if the unbelieving parent has given permission. 

What if I am not married but I live with the child’s father/mother?

Dedication does nothing for the child; it is actually a declaration (vow) where the parents dedicate themselves to bring their children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  It is very difficult to make such a declaration when living in opposition to the Word of God.  We are very supportive of parents and do encourage them to make their union legal and then proceed with the Baby Dedication.

What happens during the actual ceremony?

During the ceremony, the Pastor will ask the parents to bring their children to the platform. You will have prepared a written letter stating that before God and the congregation, much like wedding vows, you will raise your child in the Christian faith, that you will be his or her example, and that you will train your child in Christian disciplines: Prayer, Bible reading, church attendance, etc. This written dedication will be read as you stand before the church family.

You will then receive your child’s Dedication Certificate and be seated following the minister’s concluding prayer.

Should the child be dressed a special way?

No. You can dress the child in whatever clothes you wish.

Can we take pictures during the ceremony?

Picture taking is permissible if done orderly and without interference. The vows being made at this time are important and serious to the Lord. Please make sure that your guests are aware that they should use great discretion when taking pictures during the ceremony. 

What is expected of me after I dedicate my child?

Dedication is a pledge to cultivate a spiritual atmosphere in the home. One must never underestimate the incredible influence a parent has on the faith of their children. Infant dedication expresses the intention and faith of the parents to do everything they can to lead their child to salvation. It is a public pledge to circle the child with a positive environment that will nurture the child’s faith in God. Scripture tells us that we are to train a child in the way he should go (Proverbs 22:6). This includes meeting together regularly as Christians to spur one another onto love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:23-24). Dedication of children to God is a promise to model a Christian lifestyle to the children while worshipping with a church family regularly. 

In a sense, a Christian Dedication of a child is a dedication of the parents to be godly role models. 2 Timothy 1:5 states, “When I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.”

Why do I need to meet these requirements and guidelines?

It is sad to see parents who go through the ritual of a baby dedication who have not even dedicated themselves to the Lord, much less their children. This makes a mockery of the whole event and it loses its significance. Therefore, we would expect that those parents who want to publicly dedicate their child to the Lord meet the requirements and guidelines statedabove and below.

** If at this time you do not meet these guidelines or want more understanding we would love to have the opportunity to help assist in God’s Word and God’s love, so you can position yourself and family for God’s best. We love you! If you have any questions regarding the Baby Blessing & Dedication ceremony or desire to make an appointment for counseling regarding this, please contact the office at 803-377-7149.

I meet the guidelines. What do I need to do to dedicate my child?

Complete and submit the registration form to the office by the appropriate deadline prior to each dedication date. Await a call from our pastoral staff to confirm your registration.

You may need to meet with a minister for a scheduled appointment prior to the ceremony.

Should you have any questions, you may contact Angie Etters at the church office, Monday-Friday at 803-377-7149, or by e-mail at angie@chesterfreedom.com