A Guide to A Day of Praying and Fasting

Observed on September 19, 2020 – All Day

What we will do

We will pray for our world to overcome the challenge of the pandemic. We will also pray for our parish to hear how we can carry our ministry out into the world especially in the uncertain times we are in.


I arise early in the morning and I  cry out to you, I hope for your word.
My eyes are open in the night watches, that I may meditate upon your promise.” (
Psalm 119:147-148)

You may want to create a space in your home for such prayer, being aided by lighting a candle or having a vessel of water nearby to remember your baptism. Several short collects for various situations could be used throughout your day, keeping with St. Paul’s guidance to “pray without ceasing… for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:17-18).

You can download these prayer resources to help you stay focused in your praying and give you ideas:

The readings for September 19, 2020 are:

  • Zephaniah 2:13-15
  • Matthew 19:23-30
  • Psalm 145:1-8


First of all we fast on September 19, 2020 so we have more time to pray and listen to God. Not being distracted by spending time on grocery shopping, cooking, and eating, leaves us with more time to hear what God’s plan for us is.

It is recommended that you drink plenty of water and fruit juices.  Dilute acidic juices such as orange or tomato juices with water.  Avoid alcohol and caffeine.

Jesus talks about fasting while preaching the Sermon on the Mount:
Matt 6:16 “And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

In the Lutheran Confessions, Martin Luther talks about the importance for Christians to fast:
Moreover, they teach that every Christian ought to train and subdue themselves with bodily restraints, or bodily exercises and labors that neither satiety nor slothfulness tempt them to sin, but not that we may merit grace or make satisfaction for sins by such exercises. And such external discipline ought to be urged at all times, not only on a few and set days. So Christ commands, Luke 21, 34: “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation.” Paul also says, 1 Cor. 9, 27: “I keep under my body and bring it into subjection.” Here he clearly shows that he was keeping under his body, not to merit forgiveness of sins by that discipline, but to have his body in subjection and fitted for spiritual things, and for the discharge of duty according to his calling. Therefore, we do not condemn fasting in itself, but the traditions which prescribe certain days and certain meats, with peril of conscience, as though such works were a necessary service. (Augsburg Confession XXVI.33-39)

…we hold that repentance ought to bring forth good fruits for the sake of God’s glory and command, and good fruits, true fastings, true prayers, true alms, etc., have the commands of God (Apology of the Augsburg Confession VI)

And true prayers, true alms, true fastings, have God’s command; and where they have God’s command, they cannot without sin be omitted. (Apology of the Augsburg Confession VI)

More scriptures concerning fasting, an ancient way of praying practiced by our Lord and his disciples:

Deuteronomy 8:3 “He humbled you; he made you feel hunger; he fed you with manna which neither your nor your ancestors had ever known, to make you understand that human beings live not by bread alone but on every word that come from the mouth of Yahweh.” NJB

Jonah 3:4-10 [Jonah says to the people of Nineveh] “‘Only 40 days more and Nineveh will be overthrown.’ And the people of Nineveh believed in God; they proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least.  When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his robe, put on sackcloth and sat down in ashes.  He then had it proclaimed throughout Nineveh, by decree of the king and his nobles, as follows:’No person or animal herd or flock, may eat anything; they may not graze, they may not drink any water.  All must put on sackcloth and call on God with all their might; and let everyone renounce his evil ways and violent behavior.  Who knows?  Perhaps God will change his mind and relent and renounce his burning wrath, so that we shall not perish.’  God saw their efforts to renounce their evil ways.  And God relented about the disaster which he had threatened to bring on them, and did not bring it.”

Sacred music, your favorite scriptures, a walk in nature, a devotional like Christ in Our Home,  listening to or reading a favorite sermon can be aids to your prayer and meditation.  Keeping a journal of  your fast can be very rewarding.  Expect the Holy Spirit to be with you and guide you.

Who should fast

Fasting and abstaining from food is not for everyone! It can be physically dangerous for some Christians, and spiritually dangerous to others. Those who may be physically endangered by fasting and therefore should not practice it are:

  • Children under 10
  • Pregnant or nursing mothers
  • those on a restricted diet already
  • those with serious health conditions
  • those very advanced in age

Talk to your doctor if you are unsure if fasting is for you.

Should you join us in fasting, do it as a way of “honoring God with your body” (1 Cor. 6:20) and spending more time listening for God.

If you break your fast, do not feel bad. Instead, give thanks to God for your food and begin the fast anew.