by David Roadcup
Ken Helm was “an elder’s elder.” He served at Christ’s Church at Mason, OH for years, working with his fellow leaders in shepherding the outstanding church there. One of his personal practices was to fast every Monday on behalf of his church, her ministry and her staff. Ken felt that seeking the Lord through the discipline of fasting was an important part of his leadership. He never imposed this discipline on anyone else. He just quietly set aside Monday as a dedicated day to seek the Lord on behalf of Christ’s Church.
An elder should always perform his work as shepherd, teacher and leader through the power of the Holy Spirit. Scripture tells us that power is made available to every leader when we seek the Lord through the practice of the classic spiritual disciplines. One of the most important disciplines, when seeking guidance for our elder work as elders, is the discipline of fasting.
One of an elder’s greatest tasks is to lead the church in the spirit of Jesus. The spiritual life of an elder is more important than any other aspect of his leadership. To lead on the elder team with a strong spiritual life, with integrity and personal purity is of utmost importance.
It is interesting that the Bible never commands us to fast. Rather, it is assumed, especially by Jesus in Matthew 6 that His followers will make times of fasting part of their spiritual regimen. This should especially be true for those who are primary leaders in the church.
Fasting is defined as the “cessation from food and drink with caloric value and possibly other important things, for a period of time for the purpose of dedicating oneself to God and His purposes.” We can biblically fast from eating and drinking, from sports, people, work, the phone, TV and other forms of engagement and entertainment. Fasting is temporarily putting aside something important to us to focus on God and our relationship to Him.
When elders fast and pray before the Lord on behalf of their churches, it a time of power and movement of the Holy Spirit.
Let me make a suggestion – what if the paid staff and elder team decided to fast one meal a week or a meal every other week or even a meal once a month? It could be breakfast, lunch or dinner or some combination or possibly a 24-hour fast. During this time, the unified group would pray for the lost in their ministry area, for the maturing of the saints, for the church family as a whole, for those who were suffering difficult times, for the young people of the church and community, for the missionaries the church supports and for each other and each other’s families.
What would happen? An old adage comes to mind – “Has anything happened in your church over the last six months that cannot be contributed to good planning and effective strategy?” Can we clearly see the Lord’s hand at work in fulfilling our ultimate purpose of winning the lost and nurturing the saved?
Brothers, fasting is one of the most powerful means of drawing close to the Lord and receiving His direction and blessing. As leaders, called to fulfill Jesus’ command (Matt. 28:18-20), we must use all means available to us to reach our goal. Let us seek the Lord with our whole heart and utilize the discipline of fasting in our individual and collective ministries.
One last word, brothers. To see victories in our church we have never seen before, to go places we have never been before and to see the Lord at work in our church as never before, we should expect to do things we have never done before. Fasting and fervent prayer can open the door to a new chapter in the life of our church as she seeks the Lord.