40 Days of Lent
Prayer, Fasting, and Giving

Schedule Overview

12:00 AM midnight – 12:00 PM noon

Set aside 20 minutes for Devotion each day. Use the prayer focus and the corresponding verse for each day at the end of this web page.

(No food from midnight until noon. Drink water only. This means you will miss breakfast each day. Lunch and Dinner should include healthy foods. See foods you may or may not eat below).

Facts about fasting

You can extend your fast past noon. It is not mandatory. It is a personal choice. However, for persons on doctors’ orders and taking medications that require you to eat, please follow your doctor’s orders and find other ways to participate in the fast. For instance, you can abstain from one meal a day instead of two.

WHAT IS LENT?

Historically speaking, lent is a period of spiritual preparation leading up to Resurrection Sunday. It is a time of general repentance and abstinence, emphasizing reflection and spiritual renewal. The larger Christian church practices Lent. During Lent, Christians emphasize the three-fold cord that is not easily broken: Praying, Fasting, and Giving. During this period of lent, look for opportunities to perform an act of kindness.

WHAT IS FASTING?

Fasting is the voluntary abstinence from eating food (and drinking) for a prolonged period. Fasting is a spiritual discipline. As a spiritual discipline, fasting combines prayer, solitude, and reading God’s word. God’s people turned to fasting in times of desperation and crisis. Fasting (and prayer) are instruments in the hand of God to shape you into a spiritually mature disciple of Jesus Christ. Fasting and prayer spiritually position you for God’s blessings and provision.

During these 40 days of lent, intentionally give up delicacies and other things you do habitually to refocus that time on God. For instance, reduce your time watching TV or spending on social media.

BIBLICAL REASONS FOR FASTING

Bereavement – 1 Sam. 31:11-13; 2 Sam. 1:11-12; 3:31-35; 1 Chr. 10:11-12

Distress – Est. 4:3; 1 Sam. 1:7; 20:34; 1 Kings 21:4-6; Ps. 109:24; Dan. 6:18; Acts 27:33

Penitence – 1 Sam. 7:5-6; Neh. 9:1-3; Dan. 9:3-6; 9:20; Joel 1:13-14; 2:12-15; John 3:5-9

Seeking God’s intervention – 2 Sam. 12:15-17; 2 Chr. 20:2-4; Ezra 8:21; Est. 4:15-16; Ps. 35:13-14

Seeking guidance – Judges 20:26-28; Deut. 9:9; Dan. 9:1-3, 20-23; 10:1-2,12; Acts 13:1-3

Indicating earnestness – Acts 23:12-13

WHY YOU SHOULD FAST

  • Fasting is a biblical command in the OT and NT. Jesus said, “When you fast,” not “if you fast” (Matt. 6:16).
  • Fasting and prayer can result in a more intimate relationship with the Lord.
  • Fasting and prayer enable the Holy Spirit to reveal your spiritual condition, resulting in brokenness, repentance, and a transformed life.
  • Fasting is the biblically prescribed way to humble oneself in God’s sight.
  • Fasting and prayer can result in a dynamic personal and corporate revival.
  • Fasting and prayer will make you sensitive to the voice and movement of God in your life.
  • Fasting and prayer can make you a channel of God’s love to others.

TYPES OF FASTS

Normal Fast – there is no intake of food for a prescribed period, though there may be an intake of liquids (i.e., water, healthy juices, etc.).

Partial Fast – the diet is limited, though some food is allowed. The Daniel Fast is the typical partial fast. An example of the Daniel fast is found in Daniel 10:2-3. Daniel fasted for “three weeks (21 days) and ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered his mouth….”

Absolute Fast – There is no food intake for a prescribed period. Biblically speaking, the absolute fast included no water for a short period. The absolute fast is commonly referred to as a supernatural fast because persons in the Bible would go on this kind of fast for more than 21 days. Moses, Elijah, and Jesus all engaged in 40-day fasts. The supernatural fast is a God-called fast. One must know that God has called them to undertake this kind of fast.

No one should attempt to go on an absolute fast without first consulting their pastor and medical physician. In medical terms, fasting is healthy and detoxifies the body; however, going for an extended time without food (especially water) can be detrimental.

 

Preparation for Fasting

Prepare Spiritually

Step 1: Prayer and Confession

Before engaging in a time of fasting and prayer, it is important to begin by examining your heart through prayer and confession of sin. God is pleased when you set your heart to seek Him through fasting and prayer. It conveys your seriousness to draw closer to Him.

David’s prayer of repentance in Psalm 51 can be a helpful guide to confessing sin. Read each verse and make it your own by paraphrasing the words and adding your sentiments as you read. In prayer, remember to be honest and transparent with God. Tell God what makes you anxious, fearful, excited, or unsettled about the fast and other areas of your life. Ask God to reveal any hidden or unknown sins in your life (1 John 1:9). 

Step 2: Examine your Motive

Once you have confessed your sins and allowed the Holy Spirit to reveal any unknown sins in your life, examine your motive for wanting to go on a fast. Is your motive to gain spiritual “brownie points” with God? Is your motive to appear or prove yourself as spiritual before others? Is your motive to lose weight? Is your motive to use fasting as a way of “atoning” for your sins and guilt? Whatever your motive is for fasting, it is crucial to identify it before starting. How you begin is critical to finishing well.

You want to have the right motives for engaging in prayer and fasting. Clear that up now. Identify your reasons and write them down. The list doesn’t have to be perfect or long; it can just be written so that you can go back and read what you said. It’s good to reflect on your reasons for fasting when times get challenging and you consider quitting.

Step 3: Create your own Schedule

When fasting and praying, it is necessary to create your own schedule. We often won’t do things unless we make them a priority. If you are serious about seeking God through fasting and prayer, arrange a time to pray, read the Bible, practice solitude, and fellowship with other believers.

Step 4: Write down your Goals

This is one of the most important steps in spiritual preparation for fasting and prayer. Write down your goals. What are you looking to get out of fasting? Be honest with yourself. Nothing is out of bounds. Be clear about what you want out of this period of consecration. Yet, be realistic. It’s not impossible, but don’t expect some angelic visitation or your life to drastically change because of fasting. Fasting often will reveal our misconceptions about fasting. Fasting, if anything, will humble you and show you how human you are. Therefore, you will become acutely aware of your need for God (Matt. 5:3).

Step 5: Identify the kind of fast you will do

This step is the easiest because, as a congregation, we will combine a normal and partial fast. This means that we will not eat from midnight until noon every day. This is also called intermittent fasting. Throughout the day or even later in the evening (depending on your work schedule), set a time to read your Bible and spend 20 minutes in prayer. As Christians, we are to pray without ceasing. Prayer is the atmosphere we live in. But the 20 minutes is a “special” time to spend with God, just you and Him.

During a partial fast, refrain from eating delicacies and heavy foods. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. A list of permitted and prohibited foods will be added toward the end of this guide.

Prepare Physically

Step 1: Consult Your Medical Provider

God wants us to be wise. Being wise and prudent in our decisions and way of living pleases God and reflects His wisdom. Before you begin an extended fasting and prayer period, you must schedule a consultation with your doctor. Get your bloodwork done. Know where you are physically. Twenty-one days without food for a few hours is good for your body and health, but please take the necessary steps to determine if your doctor would like you to do certain things to ensure the best result. Also, consult our resident nutrition specialist, Missionary Lilly Keize, for recommendations.

Step 2: Do not overeat before beginning the Fast

During a fast, your body detoxifies and cleans itself, which can result in headaches, body aches, and other physical responses to your body, releasing toxins and bad foods. Overeating before starting a fast can complicate this process and cause you to give up before you even begin.

Step 3: Try light exercise throughout the Fast

Taking light (prayer) walks while restricting your food intake is an excellent way to assist your body in detoxifying. Biblical fasting is not primarily for losing weight. Losing weight is the natural result of restricting your diet, but once you begin eating again, the weight can come back and possibly more. Use this period of fasting and prayer to change your diet as we advance. Make a lifestyle change.

During the Fast

If you work through the preparation for the fasting section, you will find the actual fast much more manageable and enjoyable. Maintaining your spiritual posture during fasting can be challenging. Everything around you will become a temptation. People will offer you food that they never did before. The office will give away free food. Co-workers will bring in your favorite snacks, too. But you can endure if you make a resolute choice to stick to your spiritual commitment.

During fasting and prayer, you want to make it a point to read your Bible and pray daily. Keep a journal to record your thoughts and ongoing experiences with God. You’re not performing a biblical or spiritual fast if you aren’t studying God’s word and praying. 

Here are some quick tips you can use in your daily time of devotion, Bible study, and daily Christian living:

1. Begin with prayer for understanding and wisdom.

2. Read the passage two or three times and ask the following questions. Consider writing down the answers to these questions as you read the text.

  • What does this text show me about God for which I should praise or thank him?
  • What does the text show me about my sin that I should confess and repent of?
  • What false attitudes, behaviors, emotions, or idols come alive in me whenever I forget this truth?
  • What does the text show me about a need that I have?
  • What do I need to do or become in light of this?
  • How shall I petition God for it?
  • How is Jesus Christ or the grace that I have in him crucial to helping me overcome the sin I have confessed or to answering the need I have?
  • Finally: How would this change my life if I took it seriously—if this truth were fully alive and effective in my inward being? Also, why might God be showing this to me now? What is going on in my life that he would be bringing this to my attention today?
3. Turn your answers to the questions in point 2 into prayers of praise, adoration, confession, request, and thanksgiving. 
4. Intercede in prayer for others. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, the universal church, local church, pastors and church leaders, government, and communities worldwide. 
5. Listen to Christian worship music and podcasts and read general Christian literature. Feed your mind!
6. Attend your local church’s weekly corporate worship, prayer, and Bible study opportunities. 
7. Spend time in solitude and silence.

 

Ending the Fast

Partaking in a period of prayer and fasting yields so many wonderful benefits, spiritually and physically. You can walk away from the fast with a renewed sense of vision and inspiration. You never know how God will speak to you during the fast. But allow Him to speak in whatever way he wants. When it is time to conclude the fast, do not start by eating foods you discontinued eating. This can cause extreme discomfort and damage to your system. End the fast slowly. Continue eating small amounts of healthy foods. Don’t rush to get back to meaty foods. You will be surprised how forty days of fasting can change your overall eating patterns.

Foods to eat and not eat during our Lenten Fast

Medical research suggests that intermittent fasting is associated with weight loss, improved cholesterol, blood sugar control, and decreased inflammation. During your fast, it is vital to apply healthy nutritional practices during your eating times. Make these your guiding principles:

  • Discard processed foods from your diet as much as possible.
  • Eat a balanced diet of fruits, smart carbs, and healthy fats.
  • Eat your meals slowly and mindfully until you’re satisfied.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Don’t eat to get full. Eat to be satisfied. Don’t overeat during your eating times.

FOODS TO EAT

Fish

Fruits

These can be fresh, frozen, dried, or juiced. No canned foods. Try to get fresh produce.

  • Apples; Apricots; Blueberries; Blackberries; Cherries; Peaches; Pears; Plums; Oranges; Melons; Bananas

Vegetables

These can be fresh, frozen, dried, juiced. No canned foods. Try to get fresh produce.

  • Carrots; Broccoli; Tomatoes; Cauliflower; Green beans; Kale; Spinach; Chard; Cabbage; Collard greens; Arugula

Whole Grains

  • Brown rice, Millet, Cornmeal; Bulgar; Farro; Quinoa; Oats; Barley

Nuts & Seeds

  • Sunflower; Cashew; Pumpkin; Peanut; Almond; Chia; Peanut Butter; Almond Butter

All Legumes

These can be either canned or dried. Examples include:

  • Beans; Pinto beans; Kidney beans; Black beans; split peas; Lentils; Black eyed peas

Oils & Fats

  • Olive; Avocado; Canola; Grape seed; Sesame

FOODS NOT TO EAT

Meat & Animal Products

  • Beef; Lamb; Pork; Poultry; Turkey.

Dairy Products

  • Milk; Cheese; Butter; Eggs

Leavened Bread & Baked Products

  • Pretzels; Pita Bread; Ezekiel Bread; other baked goods

Fried Foods

  • Potato chips; French fries; Corn chips, etc.

Refined, Processed & Sugary Foods

  • Candy; Cakes; Fruit drinks; Fried food; Highly sweetened coffee and teas; Sugary cereals with fiber and granola; White rice; White Flour, etc.

Daily Prayer Focus and Scripture Reflection

February 14 | Day 1

Prayer Focus: Healing; Scripture Reflection: 2 Chronicles 26:5

February 15 | Day 2 

Prayer Focus: God’s Presence; Scripture Reflection: Psalm 68:19

February 16 | Day 3

Prayer Focus: Government; Scripture Reflection: Ecclesiastes 8:12

February 17 | Day 4

Prayer Focus: The Expansion of the Gospel; Scripture Reflection: 2 Corinthians 9:8

February 18 | Day 5

Prayer Focus: Wisdom; Scripture Reflection: Ephesians 3:20

February 19 | Day 6

Prayer Focus: Miracle Temple; Scripture Reflection: Philippians 4:19

February 20 | Day 7

Prayer Focus: Dr. Devale & Lady Tiffany Hodge; Scripture Reflection: Matthew 5:3

February 21 | Day 8

Prayer Focus: Praise; Scripture Reflection: Psalm 34:18

February 22 | Day 9

Prayer Focus: Families; Scripture Reflection: Isaiah 57:15

February 23 | Day 10

Prayer Focus: Marriages; Scripture Reflection: Psalm 51:17

February 24 | Day 11

Prayer Focus:  Churches; Scripture Reflection: Isaiah 66:2

February 25 | Day 12

Prayer Focus: Forgiveness; Scripture Reflection: James 2:5

February 26 | Day 13

Prayer Focus: Pastors; Scripture Reflection: Proverbs 10:22

February 27 | Day 14 

Prayer Focus: Community; Scripture Reflection: Matthew 5:4

February 28 | Day 15

Prayer Focus: Vision; Scripture Reflection: 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

February 29 | Day 16 

Prayer Focus: Salvation; Scripture Reflection: 2 Corinthians 7:6

March 1 | Day 17

Prayer Focus: 2024 Presidential Election; Scripture Reflection: Isaiah 12:1

March 2 | Day 18

Prayer Focus: Freedom; Scripture Reflection: Isaiah 61:1-2 

March 3 | Day 19

Prayer Focus: Outreach; Scripture Reflection: Romans 15:4

March 4 | Day 20

Prayer Focus: Evangelism; Scripture Reflection: Acts 9:31

March 5 | Day 21

Prayer Focus: Love; Scripture Reflection: Matthew 5:5

March 6 | Day 22

Prayer Focus: Joy; Scripture Reflection: Galatians 5:22-23

March 7 | Day 23

Prayer Focus: Peace; Scripture Reflection: Psalm 25:9

March 8 | Day 24

Prayer Focus: Hope; Scripture Reflection: Matthew 11:29

March 9 | Day 25 

Prayer Focus: Mercy; Scripture Reflection: Isaiah 40:8

March 10 | Day 26

Prayer Focus: Unity; Scripture Reflection: 1 Timothy 6:11 

March 11 | Day 27

Prayer Focus: Faith; Scripture Reflection: Psalm 2:8

March 12 | Day 28

Prayer Focus: The Homeless; Scripture Reflection: Psalm 149:4 

March 13 | Day 29

Prayer Focus: The Hospitalized; Scripture Reflection: Matthew 5:6

March 14 | Day 30

Prayer Focus: Fellowship; Scripture Reflection: Ephesians 5:18

March 15 | Day 31

Prayer Focus: The Incarcerated; Scripture Reflection: Ephesians 3:19 

March 16 | Day 32

Prayer Focus: Sick & Shut-in; Scripture Reflection: Colossians 1:9

March 17 | Day 33

Prayer Focus: Repentance; Scripture Reflection: 2 Chronicles 15:15 

March 18 | Day 34

Prayer Focus: Identity; Scripture Reflection: Psalm 42:2 

March 19 | Day 35

Prayer Focus: Church Growth; Scripture Reflection: Psalm 107:9

March 20 | Day 36

Prayer Focus: Hopeless; Scripture Reflection: Matthew 5:7

March 21 | Day 37

Prayer Focus: Spiritual Renewal; Scripture Reflection: Proverbs 11:17

March 22 | Day 38

Prayer Focus: Children; Scripture Reflection: Psalm 103:11

March 23 | Day 39

Prayer Focus: Discipleship; Scripture Reflection: Psalm 130:7

March 24 | Day 40

Prayer Focus: Evangelism; Scripture Reflection: Psalm 119:64