Bishop calls for Lenten fasting

February 6, 2018

Fasting offers hunger to God

This Lent, in the 40 days leading up to Easter, Bishop LaTrelle Easterling and Cabinet are calling upon the people of the Baltimore-Washington Conference to fast one day a week.

Fasting is biblical, cited time and again as a practice used by people in any number of circumstances to align themselves with the will of God. Jesus fasted and called upon his disciples to fast.. Throughout time and tradition, fasting is the most universally applied discipline.

John Wesley believed so strongly in the spiritual power of fasting that he refused to ordain anyone into Methodist ministry who did not fast on Wednesdays and Fridays.

For those who are new to fasting, it is important to note this practice is always accompanied by prayer. It is an exercise of penitence and sacrifice that builds self-control and demonstrates our reliance on God.

“Man cannot live on bread alone, but by every word spoken by God,” Jesus said. Fasting draws people into the heart of that statement.

While abstaining from food and drink, except for water, from sunrise to sundown is a traditional method of fasting, there are many variations on this practice. Some people add juice, others revise the time period, some fast from things other than food – like television or spending money.

It is also possible to adjust a fast to, for example, eat only one meal per day; or eat a limited diet abstaining from animal products, alcohol, and sweets; or from sugar or snacking.

When we fast, we reorient ourselves away from the things that distract us and place our focus on God. The intention of fasting is not deprivation, but to place our hearts in alignment with God’s will. As David wrote in Psalm 69:10, “I humbled my soul with fasting.”

For anyone with any health concerns, it is always necessary to consult a doctor before fasting.

This Lent, the intention of the conference-wide fast is to take people out of the realm of the physical to focus their attention on God and to shift attention from the immediate things that demand our energy and attention to who and what God is calling us to be.

Daily Themes for Lenten Fast

For those who need a focal point in their fasts, the following daily themes are suggested. The first focuses on a social concern, and the second on a ministry area.

For example, if you pray on Tuesday, read Tuesday’s focus and pray about one or more of the things, let it enter your thoughts; during mealtimes, devote time to reflecting on this; and when you’re hungry, lift these things to God’s attention and ponder how they might influence your daily life and ministry.

Monday – Immigration. Pioneering new faith communities – for our churches, for expressions of the Gospel being lived out in people’s lives, for new beginnings, and for the places where God’s presence is keenly needed or felt.

Tuesday – The Opioid Epidemic. Advocating and acting – for those who are hurting, in need or facing trials; for the places where darkness has overcome the light; for immigrants; for justice and God’s shalom.

Wednesday – Homelessness. Building Generational Bridges – for children, youth and young adults experiencing joys and challenge; to find meaning, a sense of community and love in every season.

Thursday – Gun Violence. Living Abundantly – for those who are sick or tired in body, mind or spirit; for hope to be born or rekindled; for health and wholeness; for people to thrive and live in the abundance of God.

Friday – Racism. Leading Boldly – for those in leadership in the church and world, for our communities, nation and global community; that people may be fully alive in all that God calls them to be.

Saturday – The Future of the Church. Awakening Faith – for the heart of each person, that they may more fully know God; for our churches and a revival of discipleship; that we each may become living prayers.

United Methodists do not fast on Sundays during Lent. Rather, they look upon Sundays as mini-Easters and celebrate the resurrection of Christ.

Marsha Gilreathllservant Brighter Day Ministry Feb 7, 2018 8:48am

Good morning, Bishop Easterling
thank you for your call for fasting during Lent, we at Brighter Day Ministry will host a prayer, and fasting workshop on Saturday, February 10, 2018 9 - 1:00 am we would love to have you stop by during this time, our prayer team will be fasting on Friday, before Saturday, we believe that the Holy Spirit will move mightily on the lives of the people at Brighter Day. We believe that this is just one more impromptu moment that the Holy Spirit is connecting the saints to His glory.
again I say thank you and may God continue to bless you Bishop Easterling.
Marsha Gilreath, Lay Servant Brighter Day Ministry

Miguel Feb 8, 2018 2:00pm

I will share with my congregation, Thank you so much!

Joyce Murphy Sharp Street/Sandy Spring, MD Feb 12, 2018 4:16pm

Congregational members that are able will participate in Fast.
Pastor Diane has a daily conference call time set up for participating members.

Joyce Murphy, Administrative Assistant

Richard A Shutter Jr Feb 13, 2018 11:38pm

The truth is Jesus . Stick to that

rutadosterwalker Mar 4, 2018 3:38pm

Thank you so much for the insight..... I am always trying to find ways to honor my God....I am hopeful that I will find a way to serve him more during this Lent Season....