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How to start the New Year fasting and praying


Prayer connects us to Heaven. Fasting disconnects us from Earth. For these reasons, churches are setting aside days for fasting and prayer in January 2024. 

J. D. Greear, past president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of Summit Church in Durham, N.C., is leading the church and its multiple campuses through 21 days of prayer and fasting from Jan. 12-Feb. 2.

In Arkansas, Pastor Nick Floyd is leading Cross Church to pray and fast from Jan. 1-21. He said, “We always begin the year with 21 Days of Prayer. It is a time where we intentionally challenge the church to come to the Lord in focused prayer. This year we are asking our church to identify their No. 1 burden. The last week of the 21 days we are encouraging the church to fast.” 

In Alabama, Pastor Marc Hodges at Thorsby Baptist Church is leading his congregation in 21 days of prayer and fasting, because prayer and fasting has changed his life and the church he serves. He reports, “During a season of desperation, I came under conviction for my lack of personal prayer.” Out of the revival of prayer and fasting in his own life, he led his church to adopt days of fasting and prayer every January.

They renewed their focus on fasting and prayer in 2021, and the next year they saw a record number of baptisms. Pastor Hodges believes “nothing of eternal significance happens without fervent prayer.”

Something similar occurred in Houston, Texas. Chris Kouba is the pastor of United City Church.

The negative dynamics of leading a church through the pandemic left the pastor exhausted and spiritually dry. The church was also struggling with momentum and needed revitalization. Kouba read about fasting in Scripture, so he committed to fast and pray for a week. 

Since then, he has led his church to fast and pray for a week during January. In the last two years, the church has baptized a historic number of people. The pastor believes the evangelistic surge is directly related to prayer and fasting. 

Robby Gallaty is no stranger to revival at Long Hollow Baptist Church. In January 2024, he is leading his church through “21 days of devotion” to encourage people to experience a “fresh start” with God. 

First Baptist Church Houston, led by pastor Gregg Matte, is focusing on 24/7 prayer and fasting Jan. 7-13. Every member is encouraged to fast and pray to cover their church in unceasing prayer for seven days. 

Bill Elliff, founding pastor of Summit Church in Little Rock, describes the commitment of his church like this: “For the last five years, in January we devote 21 days to fasting and prayer across all of our Summit family of churches.

“I can’t imagine us not beginning the year in this biblical way,” Elliff said 

Grant Etheridge, pastor of Liberty Live Church of Hampton Roads, Va. says, “Since 2020, we have been doing 21 days of prayer and fasting every January and August. We begin the year in prayer and close the year praying for the harvest. Last year we baptized over 1,000 people, and I believe it was in direct relation to 21 days of prayer and our people praying for unsaved family and friends. My only regret is that we did not start it sooner.”

These pastors and churches have discovered spiritual growth and power available to anyone who is willing to pray and fast. Will you join them?

Principles for fasting and prayer

We never grow spiritually by accident. Growth calls for commitment. It is not too late, therefore, for you to plan to fast and pray in January. Or, if necessary, a later time may be better for your schedule.

Nathan Lino, pastor of First Baptist Church Forney, Texas, and Todd Kaunitz, pastor of New Beginnings Church in Longview, Texas, are waiting until February and March to lead their congregations in weeks of prayer and fasting. Both pastors are leaders in the ministry of prayer and have witnessed extraordinary results in church-wide prayer meetings. 

Whatever time you choose, prayer and fasting can positively disrupt the status quo; so, the sooner you do it the better. Start planning now to see what God wants to do in your life.

You can plan ahead, for instance, by deciding how long you will fast. Will you join a prayer group or follow a church plan online? What books of the Bible will you read during your fast?

If you are a pastor, even if your church does not pray and fast in early 2024, you can preach on prayer and fasting after Christmas, challenge your church to join you in fasting and prayer, or provide daily devotions while the church prays and fasts. 

Craig Carlisle, president of the Alabama Baptist State Convenion, said, “Times of extended fasting have been times of great refreshing for me personally. Perhaps if we entered into periods of fasting and experienced spiritual cleansing, it might be a catalyst for revival.”

Jesus was once asked why His disciples were not fasting. He said, “The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days” (Luke 5:35). Those days are now.

    About the Author

  • Kie Bowman

    Kie Bowman is senior pastor emeritus of Hyde Park Baptist Church and The Quarries Church in Austin, Texas and the SBC National Director of Prayer.

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