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Uniting Church Queensland Synod Moderator Rev Kaye Ronalds
Uniting Church Queensland Synod Moderator Rev Kaye Ronalds

Fast track for prayer

A lady came to visit my office this week and told me about the work she was doing as a pastor in her community.

She said that when things get tough they move into a time of fasting and prayer. They fasted for three days like Queen Esther.

The police came past the church and said, “Keep praying, we haven’t had to arrest anyone today.”

The district nurse came by and said, “Keep praying, I haven’t had to stitch anyone up.”

Her testimony is that the breakthrough happens when we fast and pray.

I have never been very good at fasting. Maybe I need more practice. It is one of the spiritual disciplines named by Richard Foster in his book Celebration of Discipline.

In a world where fast food is promoted everywhere it seems countercultural to talk about fasting, but I wonder if fasting is like “upsizing” your prayer?

There may not be a direct transaction between not eating and having effective prayer, but it makes sense to me that if I am not concentrating on what I am going to eat for breakfast I may be more attentive to the conversation that I am having with God.

In the weeks leading up to Easter it is common to take some time for prayer and fasting. This year during Lent we have an opportunity as a Church to give expression to our covenant with the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress by participating in a week of prayer and fasting. I invite the Queensland Synod to set aside some time between 17 and 23 March to take up the challenge of prayer and fasting for the sake of our partners in this covenant relationship.

Not everyone gives up food. Some people give up a favourite television show or some other indulgence.

John Chrysostom, (347–407) fourth century Church Father and Bishop of Constantinople, suggested a different kind of fast. He suggested fasting from gossip and envy and abusive words.

He asks, “What gain is there when, on the one hand we avoid eating chicken and fish and, on the other, we chew up and consume our brothers?”

Food for thought.

Rev Kaye Ronalds
Queensland Synod Moderator

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