Journey through Lent with Park BP

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

As Park Community Church – Bridgeport we are dedicating the 40 days of Lent to God through 40 days of prayer and fasting. Prayer and fasting often go hand-in-hand with one another because they both cry out to have more of God. We are calling everyone to fast and pray together from February 14th to March 31 to ask God to grow us spiritually and in deeper communion with Christ.

During these 40 days, we are asking you to fast. Fasting is a spiritual discipline of abstaining from something so you can create a deeper longing for the living God. For example, when you fast from food, every time you get hungry or think about food it is a prompt for you to go to the Lord and cry out, “I need you more!” There are numerous types of fasts you can practice during these 40 days. What is most important is that it is a true sacrifice.

During your fasting and praying, we want to invite you to read through the gospel of John. The purpose of this writing is so that we would “believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” and that by believing we would have life in Him (John 20:30–31)! What a great truth to be reminded of as we practice the discipline of self-denial to experience the abundant life in Christ (John 10:10)! Each reading is accompanied by a daily reflection for greater insight and understanding.
We encourage you to use the model P.R.A.Y. to guide you as you read scripture and pray each day.

Pause | Rejoice | Ask | Yield

  • 1st Reading — Read slowly to take it in. Click here to go deeper into your reading through the Inductive Bible Study Method.
  • 2nd Reading — Prayerfully ask God before reading to draw your heart to one phrase. Read slowly. As you read, which phrase sticks out to you? Why would the Lord draw you to that phrase?
  • 3rd Reading — Prayerfully ask God to tend to your heart through the scripture: to encourage, challenge, grow or convict you.

From the text, what about God can you be grateful for? Joyfully acknowledge this to Him. Focus on Him and who He is during this moment.

Talk to God about this scripture you’ve paused with. How can He help you? Be open and genuine with Him.

When you think about your life in light of today’s time with God, what does it look like to be faithful and obedient? Remember, we need to be doers of the Word and not merely hearers. What is a specific way you can live out, “Lord, your will be done.”

Let’s seek the Lord these 40 days together, and do so with the expectation that He will cause us to grow closer to Him.

Follow along in our reading plan

What is Fasting?

What is fasting?
  • Fasting is the intentional foregoing of a good that is a major part of our life to draw us back to the ultimate thing in our life, Christ. Fasting is not complete without prayer. Through the course of the day, when you would do/partake in whatever you are fasting from (i.e., lunch or social media), you give that time to the Lord through prayer and the Word.

Why do Christians fast?
  • It is a continual reminder to us that, as the scripture states in Matthew 4:4, “man shall not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” In fasting, we forego our bodily wants and needs, for a period of time, to remind us of the fullness that we have in God alone. Through fasting, we allow the Spirit to move in power through us, as we come to a place of complete dependence on God and His Word. Furthermore, through Matthew 6:18, we learn that fasting is a command from God through which you will be rewarded, and through Acts 13:3, we learn fasting connects us intimately with God.

How do I fast?
  • Fasting is simple, but not easy. Choose something in your life that you value and partake in on a daily basis (i.e., food, lunch, caffeine, social media, television...). When you fast, give that thing to God and use the free time to spend with God. For instance, spend that time in prayer/worship/the Bible/intentional conversations with your co-workers about God’s work in your life.

Fasting Tips:
  • Know your body. Fasting, especially from food, can drastically impact your body. If you are in a job that requires a lot of daily physical activity, and you haven’t fasted from food before, be smart and pray for wisdom before you decide to abstain from food on a daily basis. And, if at any point you are in a dangerous/unhealthy situation based on your fasting, it is okay to break your fast. If this happens, reach out to an accountability partner for help and prayer.
  • Set up at least one accountability partner. Fasting can be difficult to maintain, so we recommend having a partner to keep you accountable.
  • Bring your friends along. Encourage your Small Group to fast with you.
  • Don’t fast from a bad habit. Fasting is not meant to help you break a bad habit. In the process of fasting, you might break some habits/dependencies that you have, but that is not its ultimate purpose. If you are prone to anger or an eating disorder, the solution is not to fast from them, but to seek Biblical truths, accountability partners, and professionals to help you grow in your walk with God.
  • Don’t boast in your fasting. When fasting, keep in mind the words of Matthew 6:16-18, “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
  • Don’t half-heartedly fast. Fasting is to be intentional and all-in. If you don’t fast with intentionality towards Christ, you cannot expect to see fruits from it.

There are some people who should never fast from food, including expectant or nursing mothers, people with diabetes, those on certain medications, and those with a history of disordered eating.

Want to learn more about fasting?

How can I study the Bible on my own?

Inductive bible study is a method of studying the bible in which we allow the text to speak for itself. This article from Crossway provides 10 Tips for Getting Started. The article helpfully explains inductive bible study as “purposefully and systematically studying God’s Word on its own terms, observing what the text says in its context, interpreting Scripture with Scripture, and applying the truth of God’s Word to our lives.” They use the “three Ls: Look (What does this passage say?), Learn (What does it mean?), and Live (How must I respond?).”

How can we do this well? Consider using this framework from InterVarsity: 

Observation:  What does the text say?
  1. Ask investigative questions: 
  • Who is speaking? Who are the main people? Who is being spoken to? 
  • What is happening? What is the scene? What is the cultural context of the passage? 
  • Where is the passage taking place? 
  • When did or will the events take place? 
  • How did people respond? How did Jesus react? 
  1. Look for grammatical connections: repeated words, comparisons, contrast, cause and effect. 
  2. Identify key words and phrases. 
  3. Note verb tenses. 
  4. Look for conjunctions such as since and therefore. Why are those words in the sentence?  

Interpretation: What does the passage mean?
  1. Develop some questions based on the text. Ask what is the significance of your main observations and why they happened. 
  2. Imagine the perspective of the people in the scene. If Jesus spoke, why did he say what he said? 
  3. Answer the questions from the text and the context. 
  4. Try to summarize the passage in one sentence. What is the main point the author is communicating to the audience? 

Application: What does the passage mean for me?
  1. How do you respond to what this passage is saying? Does it challenge how you see the world? 
  2. Is there a central truth that you need to put into practice? 
  3. What are the implications of the passage for the community of which you are a part? 
  4. Pray that God will help you believe and obey. 

Join us on Good Friday