Twenty-one days ago a dozen college pastors stood on stage before 150-200 of their students to explain why we felt God was calling us to unite in a 21-day fast. You may be thinking, “Twelve pastors! How long did they each speak?” Actually, we did not share more than a few sentences each because we all shared the exact same feelings about why it is important to fast not just individually, but together as a united Body of Christ.
Several things happen when ministries fast in community. We’ve certainly seen God do the following three things and more the last twenty-one days.
Fasting Creates Conversation
These are the type of questions we have overheard students asking these last few weeks. “How’s your fast going?” “What has God been teaching you?” “How has God been using you?” In other words, students are taking about God when they are “not supposed to.”
Spiritual conversations are normal among those that are seeking God together with greater intent. They are not just reserved for small group meetings or worship gatherings. Students are talking about what Jesus is teaching them all the time when they are fasting together.
Fasting Creates Community
Fasting together is similar to serving together. Any student who has been on a missions trip or done a service project knows there is a huge fringe benefit to serving together: It builds community.
There is just something about doing something tough together that binds people together. It’s like people experience on a sports team or in the military during drills. Sweating and hurting together simply builds team and camaraderie. The students who have been fasting and praying together every day these last twenty-one days are closer to one another simply because they have been fasting together.
Fasting Creates Conviction
Two hundred students and campus ministers set aside twenty-one days to fast from Facebook, TV, sports, video games, certain foods, and other distractions. For many of us, these changes in behavior will be much more permanent. God has spoken to everyone about something, I’m sure. So in some way we will all live differently as a result, especially as we hold each other accountable.
Fasting in community is a vital part of discipleship. It should be a common strategy for campus ministries just as worship, small groups, retreats, service projects, mission trips, etc.
Justin Christopher is the director of Campus Renewal Ministries at the University of Texas and author of Campus Renewal: A Practical Plan for Uniting Campus Ministries in Prayer and Mission. He gives leadership to the Campus House of Prayer and the missional community movement at the University of Texas.