The Why and How of Fasting
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ABOUT FASTING Fasting is a powerful aspect of Christian life, but it could also be one of the most neglected as well. When conducted in a Biblical manner, to seek the face of
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ABOUT FASTING
Fasting is a powerful aspect of Christian life, but it could also be one of the most neglected as well. When conducted in a Biblical manner, to seek the face of God above all else, God will hear. We will see Him begin to heal in ways we couldn’t expect in any other way. It’s a powerful and needed tool of holiness in today’s world!
When you decide to fast, it can often be hard to find information that is truly Biblical. How should you start? What happens in your body and in your spirit? How do you close out a fast?
We would like to answer some of those questions for you today. Read on to find out a little more in-depth information on the topic of fasting.
Fasting is a spiritual tool that is powerful and so very important. It can bring strength, transformation, healing and so very much more. But without understanding, it can mean little in your life.
Fasting was practiced in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. In fact, Moses fasted for forty days, at two different times. Jesus also fasted for forty days, after which he experienced temptation by Satan. Jesus taught his disciples to fast, speaking of fasting in terms of “when” and not “if”.
Fasting, accompanied by fervent prayer, can bring back your “first love” and cause you to have a real and intimate relationship with Jesus. It is one of the truest ways to humble yourself before God (Psalm 35:13, Ezra 8:21).
Sometimes fasting can bring about a state of brokenness that leads to true and meaningful repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10). In turn, this leads to a life that can be completely transformed by God.
As we make fasting a priority, not just sometimes, but on a regular basis, we will begin to see God’s truth become more meaningful to us, His Word will become imprinted in our hearts, and our prayers will begin to be much more personal. In fact, fasting can be your very own personal time of revival.
As you begin to undertake fasting, many well-meaning friends and family may voice concerns for your health. They are right, you should never put your health at risk if you are truly in danger. Certain health conditions can make fasting harder for some people than for others. In those cases, you surely want to seek the counsel of your doctor before starting, to see if there’s a way you can safely fast, and how long you can fast for at that time.
For those who are in good health however, there have been many findings that show the healthy aspects of fasting. In some ways, it acts as a reset button for your body and digestive system, giving far more benefits than thought many years ago.
How Long To Fast
There have been many questions pertaining to the exact length of a fast. In different places in the Bible, we see fasting carried out for different amounts of time and for many different reasons.
The man who founded the Methodist Churches, Mr. John Wesley, fasted all day long on Wednesdays and Fridays. Additionally, he made it mandatory that his clergy fast this way as well. Many other great men throughout Church history, such as John Calvin and Martin Luther, made fasting a continuous part of their spiritual lives. In fact, Christian leaders today, though few in number, are still carrying out this all-important Bible tradition.
While everyone that makes fasting a part of their regular routine are absolutely sure of the great value it brings to their lives, they agree there is no special “formula” for doing so. There isn’t one single way that is considered right. It’s more about the condition of the spirit and heart, not the amount of time spent starving oneself.
No, fasting is more about how God impresses you to do so. He may call you to fast for one or two meals a day, or he might call you to an extended fast of forty days. Obedience plays as much a part in your personal time of fasting than anything else.
What Type of Fast Is Best?
The Bible mentions two particular types of fasting. In Daniel Chapter 10, we see that Daniel undertook a fast of three weeks, in which he did not eat or drink “delicacies”. We take this to mean that he required only bland things during that time, or only such sustenance as he felt necessary.
Another type of fast is the absolute fast, in which no food or water is consumed. Paul undertook this type of fast after his Damascus Road encounter with Jesus. You can find the details in Acts chapter 9.
Both Moses and Elijah went on absolute fasts for forty days (Deuteronomy 9:9, 1 Kings 19:8). Most agree that this was a “supernatural absolute” fast, where both of these men were sustained by God during the forty day period. Under “normal” situations, the human body cannot go without sustenance, especially liquids, for very long at all.
Most people undertake fasts in which they abstain from all food, and drink only water. Some drink water and fruit juice, while refusing solid food. While still others might not eat anything but broths or soups or some other type of bland food.
The most important aspect of the fast you undertake is to make sure you have prayed sufficiently and feel God’s guidance on the matter. Fasting is a very personal experience, between you and God.
Preparing To Fast
It is very important to spend some time in prayer before you begin a fast of any type. Seek God and ask for the guidance towards any sin that you have left unconfessed. In fact, in Psalm 66, King David noted that had he not confessed his sin, God would not have heard his prayer.
As you pray, confess every sin that comes into your mind, but stay in the presence of God long enough for Him to show you any areas of sin that has otherwise went unrevealed to you.
Make sure to confess sins that can mean you have left your first love, which includes being self-centered, being indifferent to spiritual matters, being unwilling to share your faith, being focused more on the world than anything else, not spending enough time in reading the Bible and in prayer, poor relationships and so on.
In physical terms, you might be tempted to have one last very large meal before you begin. However, this is a bad idea. By doing so, you will have taught your body and mind that you are needing larger amounts of food for some reason, and you will become very hungry very quickly as you start your fast.
It has been suggested that people should eat only foods that are raw for about two days prior to a fast. Weaning yourself away from products that contain sugars and caffeine is another good idea, as it will help to curb hunger pangs and other types of discomfort as you embark on your fast.
Scheduling A Fast
The type of work you do can have an impact on your ability to fast. For instance, those who work a strenuous outdoor job such as construction work, might have a harder time abstaining from food than someone who doesn’t work quite as hard physically.
It’s not entirely impossible to complete a short, or even longer term, fast in these situations. However, sometimes it’s best to plan to fast on the weekend for these people. On the other hand, those who have families that often maintain the tradition of larger family meals on weekends, when everyone is together, can make weekend fasting more of an ordeal.
It’s also never a good idea to fast over holidays that focus on food as part of the festivities. During these times, even with the best of intentions, people often give in to temptation or seek to alter a fast that has already been laid out beforehand. Do not be deceived, Satan will use any means necessary to attempt to overwhelm you with temptation, especially when you have your mind set on fasting.
In attempting to schedule your upcoming fast, it’s important to plan. The first couple of days of an extended fast is the time in which you are most likely to experience a great deal of fatigue and irritability. If possible, it’s best to cut down on your normal workload as well as any routines of harsh exercise. It will be helpful for both your health as well as your state of mind.
Second, it’s important to keep in mind that you are actually trading out your physical needs to better attend to your spiritual needs. During times of fasting, you will want to spend the time in which you would normally eat, in prayer and in the reading of God’s Word instead. As Jesus said, man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).
Don’t make the mistake of staying so busy during your scheduled fast time that you are unable to spend sufficient time with God! In doing so, you will not only starve physically, but spiritually as well. You will wind up discouraged and overly frustrated that the results you thought would come, do not.
By going into your fast properly and spending time praying and meditating on God’s Word instead of seeing to your physical hunger, you will be blessed and see great benefit. Even though you are not particularly seeking God’s hand, but rather His face, all those things will be added to you.
As you embark on a journey to a deeper relationship with God by making use of such a powerful spiritual tool, you MUST know that Satan will stop at nothing to make it difficult for you. When you realize that this is happening, go straight away to God and pray for the strength and determination to overcome any temptation the enemy is throwing at you.
The reason for this immense vigor from the enemy is that he knows how powerful the act of fasting is before the Face of God. He knows that God pays attention to those to seek His face, wait upon Him and put their physical needs on the back burner to do it.
Satan views the possibility of the growth of your faith as a direct bombardment to the plans he has for you. Don’t be surprised if you suddenly become hungrier than you’ve ever been, if you start seeing trouble in your immediately family that has no apparent rhyme or reason, or you yourself become unnecessarily hard to live with.
If hard things like these pop up, use prayer in a more fervent way, asking God to shield you from such spiritual attacks.
Breaking Your Fast
It’s important to come out of a fast the right way. Your body goes into a type of resting mode during a fast, especially if it’s a lengthy one. Your stomach will shrink and your intestines don’t have to work so hard.
For this reason, it’s very important that you introduce solid food back into your diet very slowly so as to avoid any harmful physical effects. This is also a good way to maximize the physical and spiritual benefits of the fast.
If you rush back into a big influx of solid food you might experience such physical symptoms as diarrhea, fainting spells and other types of sicknesses.
For easing back into the act of eating, you might choose such items as boiled tomatoes, grated carrots and cabbage dressed with fresh squeezed orange juice, steamed greens or whole-wheat toast. On the other hand, stay away from starchy foods at first, such as potatoes, rice, pasta and bread, and don’t eat meat, dairy, oils or fats for up to a week after an extensive fast.
The Atomic Power of Fasting – Dan Mohler
Now that you’ve studied up, please enjoy this powerful message on fasting from Dan Mohler. It will get you so excited to start!
Not to us, O Lord, not to us,
But to Your name be the glory
Because of Your love and your faithfulness!