Our denomination (reformedpresbyterian.org) has answered the call of a sister denomination to spend a day to fast and pray as the Supreme Court nears their announced time of decision regarding so-called “Same-Sex Marriage.” As this has been announced in our congregation, one dad asked what this might look like in the homes of our congregation. Great question! I jotted down some thoughts. If you have improvements, don’t hesitate to comment.
The Westminster divines saw religious fasting as a positive command under the duties required by the 2nd Commandment. (WLC #108) The Confession more clearly defines fasting as a part of irregular worship, i.e., not done regularly. (WCF 21.5) This is why we scoff at the Roman practice of Lent, or a regularly scheduled program of self-denial, for a season, one day a week, denying ourselves one thing easily given, while fish-gluttony is readily available. The RP Testimony makes more clear the what & why of religious fasting, which is what we have been called to this week. The Testimony 21.7 says:
“Religious fasting is an ordinance of God in which the believer voluntarily abstains from food for a season for the purpose of seeking the will of God, strength for service or deeper spirituality. It should be accompanied by meditation, self-examination, humiliation before God, confession of sin, repentance and renewed dedication to a life of obedience.”
What do we see here:
God ordains fasting. If he didn’t, we shouldn’t be practicing it or asking you to.
The believer volunteers to fast. We can’t make you fast, this would go against the comprehensive instruction of Scripture.
Fasting involves physical nourishment. While “Fasting from Facebook” seems neat, Scripture seems to make plain it regards our physical food intake.
Fasting serves one of a number of purposes. (Seeking the will of God, strength for service or deeper spirituality. This is what we are doing by fasting and praying for our nation and the Supreme Court decision.)
Fasting should be accompanied by a number of biblical practices. (See below.)
So what might this look like applied to the families of our congregation? We must remember that the onslaught of so-called “same-sex marriage” is against God and His Word. This remembrance will help, I believe, define for us what a family’s chosen day of fasting and prayer looks like, even for families with small children or growing teenagers… or BOTH!
Meditation: Take time to read the story of Creation and the establishment of Marriage. Another great text would be Jesus’ attendance at the wedding of Cana, reminding our children that Jesus loves marriage and the ceremonies that establish them. Also, the fruition of the Church in the wedding feast of the Lamb in Revelation paints a beautiful picture of what Christ has done for us, as do the marriage texts in Ephesians 5 and 1 Peter 3. Some concepts present might seem a little deep for kids, but parenting hearts can navigate these texts. Having a general commentary or Study Bible notes available helps to answer questions that pop up. Spend time chewing on these texts together.
Self-examination: A spiritual application of meditation is self-examination, seeking Holy Spirit to reveal how he is sanctifying you in light of what you have read. If things are good (remember marriage texts work their way out to the family!!), praise God together for it, singing Psalm 127. If there are areas needing improvement (there always are, aren’t there?!?) then ask the Lord together to bless your family through growing in those areas.
Humiliation before God/Confession of Sin: Humiliation before God sometimes seems easier than humiliation before other people, especially our kids. If Mom is convicted by a habitual sin toward Dad or the children, she may spend some time talking through that with them. Or Dad… Or brother… Or sister. Remember, the overall purpose of this time is plead with God to reestablish Godly families in our nation, to tear down the strongholds of lies, innuendos, and legal victories that have turned our nation away from Him in this area. However, we need to acknowledge how we have handled things at home, as those who “know better.” This might also be a time to acknowledge and work through indifference toward of hatred of homosexuals or those who would approve their sin. If you have Rosaria Butterfields first book, Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, you will find PLENTY of material in there to spark conversation with your children.
Repentance & Renewed Dedication to a Life of Obedience: This area becomes clear as you work through the previous sections. Perhaps you could discuss “3 Ways Our Family Can Change to Honor God More in Our Marriage & Family.” Husband and wife might have a few extra items that are just between them. One area of Repentance and Renewal which will become clear is a growth in prayer for our nation and for those in the sin of homosexuality. Generally, we are angry, calloused, or numb. Mentally & Spiritually engaging those who struggle with this issue needs to become an important part of our family lives and church life.
Now to some practical matters…
Prayer: Prayer is talking to God. Throughout all of the above matters, it is appropriate to pause and talk to God about difficulties in understanding, help in the Word, attentiveness to notice those whom we might help along to Jesus, etc. These times can also show our children they can talk to God about anything, not just “churchy” stuff.
Food!!!: Keep it simple, or simplified, rather. We know little kiddos (or growing teenagers) can’t go for hours and hours without any sustenance. I’m, of course, speaking in natural terms here. We should not, however, be afraid to stretch our kids in these matters. Perhaps the meals throughout the day are paired down: cheese & crackers, simple fruit, water, etc. We don’t want to starve people to death, but we do want them to find their strength, joy, and focus in Christ.