Season of Prayer and Fasting
for a Faithful Democracy
**Martin Luther King Jr. Day will be a coordinated day of prayer and fasting by West Virginian faith leaders and people of faith.**
Faithful Democracy's partners in West Virginia are leading the call for accountability from the senate to pass the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. In addition to continued pressure and actions, we are seeking divine intervention to move our legislators to action. Passage of these bills will begin restoring a functional government that truly represents the people and protecting the fundamental American freedom to vote.
The West Virginia Faith Table launched the Season of Prayer and Fasting for a Faithful Democracy in October. Watch the full kick-off event (top) or these clips of West Virginian faith leaders from different traditions reflecting on the connection between their personal prayer, the practice of fasting, and our call to engage in creating a more just world. Learn how communal actions like fasting can serve to raise public awareness and highlight pressing moral issues. Now is the time to call on this sacred practice together to save our democracy.
When all else fails and the path is unclear, we can seek divine intervention.
People of Goodwill Join Us
Are you an individual looking to join Monday's prayer and fasting? Welcome! You can decide your own approach to pray and fast for a Faithful Democracy. Alternatively, you can organize your house of worship, faith-based group or community to do the corporate fast together.
How you choose to engage is less important than your decision and commitment to do so. See the "Suggested Guidelines for Fasting" below for ideas to design your fast and check out our toolkit for additional resources that you can incorporate into your own prayer and fasting plan.
Maintaining a focused intention as you pray and fast is what is most powerful:
- Prayers that our democratic systems can survive current tribulations
- Prayers that the Senate is inspired to pass federal legislation for a Faithful Democracy.
We offer several resources to help maintain this prayerful intention. However you choose to fast, it is a tool to help focus and amplify those prayers.
Suggested Guidelines for Fasting
Types of Fasts:
Regardless of the type of fast you choose, when you begin to crave that item or activity, pray on the purpose of your fasting--to bring about a renewal of our democracy through federal legislation--and reflect on the divine power that can transform anything!
- Full Fast: Drink only liquids – especially water. On this type of fast you may also take in clear broth and 100 percent fruit and vegetable juices in order to maintain your strength.
- Partial Fast: Restrict your diet however you choose (but not total abstention). Some examples:
- Fast only on certain days of the week, once during a repeated time period or on a certain date
- Fast only during daylight hours
- Fast from a single meal
- Fast from meat and consume vegetables, water and juice only
- Fast from specific non-essential foods that you enjoy (a type of beverage or sweets, for example)
- Non-Food Fast: Refrain from a habitual activity that you enjoy. Some examples:
- A specific television show
- Time on social media platforms
- Shopping for non-necessities
*Absolute fasts, in which one abstains from all food and water, is not recommended because it can be dangerous to your health*
Corporate vs. Private Fast:
Sacred texts speak of both corporate and private fasts. A private fast is just that: as an individual, you make the decision to fast for a particular reason (democratic renewal/passage of the Freedom to Vote Act). A corporate fast involves an entire group of believers coordinating the nature and timing of their fast as an action of solidarity towards a desired outcome. For example, your community of worship, faith-based organization or any other small-group may plan to fast together for a Faithful Democracy. Esther called all of her people to fast for protection against danger (Esther 4:16). Samuel declared a fast for national revival (1 Samuel 7). The results can be quite powerful.
How to Get Started:
- It is important to choose ahead of time what type of fast you will participate in and whether you will be coordinating the fast with others.
- Plan to fast for a discrete time frame: have a start and finish in mind before you begin.
- Choosing your fasting plan is a very personal decision. Even when participating in a corporate fast, you may plan for variations among the group depending on need. Fasting should never be a cause for comparison or competition, but is done in solidarity of spirit. There is nothing more “inherently spiritual” about one type of fast as opposed to another.
- Your personal fast should present a level of challenge to it, but know your body, know your options, and most importantly, seek the divine spirit to guide you about this and follow what your heart leads you to do. Not only will this help you to prepare, but as you commit to a specific fast ahead of time, and know how you’re going to do it, you will position yourself to finish strong.
- (From food) Consult your physician if you plan to fast from food, especially if you have any type of medical condition.
- Select a place, an agenda (prayer and scripture reading), and a time to listen and reflect upon the blessing of living in a democracy. Be ready to focus your attention and imagination on the potential that a faithful democracy can have in creating a better world.
- Include worship opportunities to keep your focus on divine intervention among our lawmakers and on the possibilities for a faithful democracy in our nation. Consider pondering scripture or prayers about it (see Faithful Democracy's prayers & petitions, our Voters Covenant or these resources from our partners at Texas Impact). Take time throughout the fast to feel gratitude for the chance to fast and impact possibilities for change, and for the opportunity to make your voice heard in a true democracy. Make this a time of special attention to the importance of our democracy to create a better world.
- Consider keeping a journal, even if only during the times you are fasting. Devote the time you would have been eating (or other foregone activity) to prayer, scripture and journaling.
- (From food) Drink two to three quarts of water per day, preferably at room temperature. Lemon juice might be added for taste. If something more is desired and appropriate to the fast, consider bouillon, vegetable or fruit juice, or unsweetened beverages.
- (From food) Avoid caffeinated beverages, alcohol, and any drugs not prescribed by a doctor, including aspirin.
- (From food) Keep your body warm, as fasting can lead to chills because of a lowered blood pressure and metabolism. Recognize that you may experience light-headedness, additional
energy, feel more alert or over-stimulated.
Breaking the Fast:
- In celebration of what has been and what will be, break bread with your family, church community, or co-workers. Remember those people for whom the lack of food threatens their survival. Be grateful for the agency to engage and pray for those who have become cynical or who have no voice in their society.
- If you kept a journal, review what you wrote, and examine any insights you may have had during the fast. If your insights imply concrete changes in lifestyle or important actions, consider what resources you need to take the next step into faithful action/living.
- (From food) Do not overeat. Not only has your body slowed down, but your stomach has begun to shrink. Break the fast with liquids and a very light, low-calorie, plain, cooked foods.
- (From food) Avoid rich cuisines. Foods such as fruit, eggs, cheese, and meat should be reintroduced into your diet slowly.
- Steve Shussett. Fasting 101: Concrete Considerations When Preparing to Fast for Justice. Office of Spiritual Formation, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), 2003.
- Richard Foster. Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988.
- Marjorie Thompson. Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1995.
- “Food and Drink,” in Encyclopedia of Christianity. John Bowden, ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.