WHAT IS FASTING?
SIMPLY STATED, BIBLICAL FASTING IS REFRAINING FROM FOOD FOR A SPIRITUAL PURPOSE.
As Christians, we grow closer to the Lord as we block out the everyday noise of the world, and lean in closer to the voice of the Father. We block out these daily distractions by doing as Jesus called each of us to do in Luke 9:23: “And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” By taking up our cross daily, we are putting down the heavy things of this world that act as distractions, picking up what God has actually called us to bear, and following where He leads. It can be easy to fall into the trap of distraction as we go from day to day. Whether it’s work, school, kids, stress, social media, finances, relational challenges, or unexpected dilemmas or delays that pop up throughout the day – it can all become so overwhelming and completely time and thought consuming.
Every now and then in our walk with Christ, we can greatly benefit from hitting the refresh button in our spiritual lives. The best way to reset and refresh our spiritual lives and relationship with God is through fasting and prayer.
Fasting is an integral spiritual discipline that is meant to help us as believers take our focus off of something for a period of time (food, social media, TV, etc.), and focus our time, attention, and hearts fully on Jesus. By fasting, we are setting aside distractions, even necessities, such as food, in order to stir up a deeper hunger for the Lord. The purpose of fasting is not to lose something, but to gain something; a deeper, more intimate relationship with God.
HOW TO FAST
Be in faith as you prayerfully and thoughtfully step into this season of fasting. Fasting is more than simply going without something. It is supplementing the absence of something that feeds your flesh with prayer in order to feed your spirit.
Commit to a type of fast. Do not decide on a day-to-day basis. Commit before your fast begins, and stay determined. Fasting options may include:
- Water only
- Liquid only
- Vegetables and fruits only
- One meal only per day
- Traditional fasts (sun-up to sun-down, Monday through Friday)
- Other kinds of fasts (ie. no TV, no social media, no discretionary spending)
Prepare your body gradually for the fast. Start eating smaller portions and meals made of raw fruits and vegetables two days before you begin. Avoid food that is high in sugar and fat.
Plan Your Calendar.
Limit physical and social activities during the fast, conserve energy, and spend more time in prayer, worship, and reading the Bible. If you wish to pair this guide with a Bible reading plan, consider The Whole Story reading plan on the YouVersion Bible app.
Consult a Physician.
Consult your physician or doctor if you need to, or if you have health concerns. If your health or personal condition does not allow you to fast food or meals, determine an alternative that will work best for you. Such circumstances may include pregnancy, a physically demanding profession, and medical conditions.
Partner with Others.
Ask friends and family to be your prayer partner throughout the fast. Consider doing the fast within the benefits of community, and alongside friends, rather than in solitude.
Decide How Long.
You may fast as long as you like. Most can easily fast from one to three days, but you may feel the grace to go longer, even as much as 21 to 40 days. Use wisdom and pray for guidance. Beginners are advised to start slow.
What to Expect.
When you fast your body detoxifies, eliminating toxins from your system. This can cause mild discomfort such as headaches and irritability during withdrawal from caffeine and sugars. And naturally, you will have hunger pains. Limit your activity and exercise moderately. Take time to rest. Fasting brings about miraculous results. You are following Jesus’ example when you fast. Spend time listening to praise and worship. Pray as often as you can throughout the day. Get away from the normal distractions as much as possible and keep your heart and mind set on seeking God’s face.
How to End.
Don’t overeat when the time comes to end your fast. Begin eating solid food gradually; eat small portions or snacks.