Fasting is one of the most powerful spiritual disciplines of all the Christian disciplines. It is a way to align our hearts with the psalmist, “My soul thirsts for God, the living God” (Psalm 42:2). “It’s a means of God’s grace to strengthen and sharpen our Godward affections,” writes David Mathis in his book, Habits of Grace. Through fasting and prayer, the Holy Spirit can transform your life. According to Scripture, fasting and prayer can also effect change on a much grander scale. When God’s people fast with a proper biblical motive – seeking God’s face, not His hand – with a broken, repentant and contrite spirit, God will hear from heaven. He will heal our lives, our churches, our communities, our nation and our world, fasting and prayer can bring about a change in the direction of our nation, the nations of earth and the fulfillment of the Great Commission - this is powerful motivation in today’s unsettled world.Back to Top
Fasting is one of the Spirit’s tools for strengthening and transforming grace in our lives. This spiritual practice is a gift from God meant to grow us and draw us into deepening relationship with Himself. If you do not already know this power and the importance of fasting, here are some insights drawn from God’s Word and personal experience to get you started:
If you fast, you will find yourself being humbled. You will discover more time to pray and seek God’s face. And as He leads you to recognize and repent of unconfessed sin, you will experience God’s grace to grow and mature you.Back to Top
As you begin your fast, you may hear from concerned loved ones and friends who urge you to protect your health. And they are right – you should protect your health. But I assure you, if done properly, fasting will not only prove to be a spiritual blessing but a physical blessing as well.
By all means, consult your doctor before you begin your fast. But be aware that many doctors have not been trained in this area and so their understanding may be limited. Even so, it would be wise to ask your doctor for a physical exam to make sure you are in good health. You may have a physical problem that would make fasting unwise or dangerous. Also, if you are taking any type of medication, make sure to talk to your doctor before changing your regimen. Prudence and caution are in order.
When you are assured that you are in good health, you are ready to begin your fast. In spite of the safety and benefits of fasting, there are certain persons who should NEVER fast without professional supervision. For example:
If you have never fasted before, we’re so glad that you are seeking to learn more about it. Though seemingly counter-cultural today, this discipline has been a major emphasis in the lives of many of the great spiritual leaders throughout history. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist denomination, fasted every Wednesday and Friday and required all of his clergy to do the same. Effective ministers of God from the apostle Paul to Martin Luther to John Calvin made it a continual part of their walks with God. And there are numerous Christian leaders today such as Tim Keller and John Piper who relish and teach of a deepening hunger for God through fasting.
Though convinced of its great value, none of these men had a formula for fasting that they considered to be the only “right” way. Fasting is about the condition of the heart, not the number of days. So, start slowly. Fast for one meal a day, or one day a week, or one week a month. Build up your spiritual muscles so that you will be prepared in a period of several months to fast for an extended 40 day period, if you are being led by the Spirit to do so.Back to Top
A Partial or Selective fast is described in the book of Daniel. Although the water fast seemed to be the custom of the prophet, there was a three-week period in which he only abstained from “delicacies,” meat, wine, sweets and bread (Daniel 10:3). You could replace these things with water or juice, and eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. Another type of “partial” fast is commonly called “Jewish Fast.” It consists abstaining from eating any type of food in the morning and afternoon or fast during special times of the day, e.g. 6AM-3PM, or from sun up to sundown.
A Complete fast consists of drinking only liquids, typically water and/or light juices. Also, broth may be included as an option. The last option for fasting is referred to as a Soul fast and is common for anyone new to fasting, or those who have health issues that prevent them from a complete or partial fasts. Soul fast are for those who are wanting to refocus their lives before God. Some suggestions for this type of fast is abstaining from engaging in shopping, watching television, social media or anything that robs your time you have to spend before God.
With any type fast you choose, we strongly advise you to drink plenty of liquids as you fast. Obviously, if God leads you to undertake a complete fast, you should obey Him. If so, be certain to the best of your ability, to determine that God is leading you. Water-only fasts that last for more than several days need to be undertaken with complete rest and under medical supervision because of the extreme danger of over-toxification, breakdown of vital body tissues and loss of electrolytes.
We recommend water and juice fasting, especially if you are going to fast for an extended period of time. This type of fast will provide you with more energy than complete or water-only fasts and still lead you into the humbling experience of denying your desire for solid food that you can chew.
When it comes to making your final decision about what type of fast is right for you, the best advice we can give you is to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Pray that He’ll guide your heart and mind as to what is best for you. Remember, the most important consideration in fasting is your motive. Why are you fasting – to seek something personally from God’s hand or to seek His face in worship, praise and thanksgiving?Back to Top
In preparation for this special time with God, we urge you to examine your heart through prayer, and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any unconfessed sin. Scripture records that God always requires His people to repent of their sins before He will hear their prayers. King David said:
Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he did for me. For I cried out to him for help, praising him as I spoke. If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me. (Psalm 66:16-20, NLT)
In your prayers, confess not only the obvious sins that come to mind, but allow yourself to linger in His presence, giving Him time to show you the less obvious ones as well. You may want to ask God if you are experiencing any of these signs of leaving your first love: worldly-mindedness, self-centeredness, spiritual indifference, unwillingness to share your faith in Christ with others, not spending sufficient time in God’s Word and in prayer, a poor relationship with your spouse, your children, your friends, or other members of your church community.Back to Top
Although fasting is primarily a spiritual discipline, it begins in the physical realm. You should not fast without specific physical preparation. If you plan on fasting for several days, you will find it helpful to begin by eating smaller meals before you abstain altogether. Resist the urge to have that “last big feast” before the fast. Cutting down on your meals a few days before you begin the fast will signal your mind, stomach and appetite that less food is acceptable. Some health professionals suggest eating only raw foods for two days before starting a fast. We also recommend weaning yourself off caffeine and sugar products to ease your initial hunger or discomfort at the early stages of your fast.Back to Top
Many people are reluctant to tell others that they are fasting so they will avoid the sin of the Pharisees: fasting just to gain recognition for themselves. But this thinking may be the result of a wrong interpretation of Jesus’ teaching, “that your fasting may not be seen by others” (Matthew 6:18). His point is avoiding self praise, not total secrecy. Sometimes our misguided silence can be a trick of the enemy who does not want us to fast, nor to share with loved ones and friends the benefits of fasting.
By isolating ourselves from the support of other Christians, we will be more susceptible to doubts and negative influences. We need the prayers of our Christian friends and family members to help us continue when we feel alone and when the enemy tempts us to give up. Eventually, people will notice you are not eating. However, we have found that unless you see certain people daily, they do not consider your skipped meal much of a concern. If you are asked by someone who does not follow Christ, they may be satisfied by such a brief answer as, “I have other plans for lunch today.” Or Christians should be satisfied when you answer that you are fasting.
If friends and family express concern for your health, ease their fears by telling them that you will stop fasting the moment you feel you are harming your body or if the Lord leads you to end your fast. Tell them you are fasting under your doctor’s care, which I urge you to do if you have any question concerning your health. There is usually no reason for telling strangers or casual acquaintances that you are fasting. If you do, they may subject you to a lot of questions that you may not want to answer. But in any case, use your best judgment and the Lord’s leading in telling people about your fast.Back to Top
Experiencing God’s best from a fast requires solid commitment. Arranging special time each day with God is crucial in attaining intimate communion with the Father. You must devote yourself to seeking God’s face, even (and especially) during those times in which you feel weak, vulnerable or irritable. Read His Word and pray during what were mealtimes. Meditate on Him when you awake in the night. Sing praises to Him whenever you please. Focus on your Heavenly Father and make every act one of praise and worship. God will enable you to experience His command to “pray without ceasing” as you seek His presence.
As you enter this time of heightened spiritual devotion, be aware that Satan will do everything he can to pull you away from your prayer and Bible reading time. When you feel the enemy trying to discourage you, immediately go to God in prayer and ask Him to strengthen your resolve in the face of difficulties and temptations.
The enemy makes you a target because he knows that fasting is a powerful Christian discipline and that God may have something very special to show you as you wait upon Him and seek His face. Satan does not want you to grow in your faith; he will do anything from making you hungry and grumpy to bringing up trouble in your family or at work to stop you. Make prayer your protective shield against such attacks.
Some major reasons for fasting and praying for personal revival, revival for our world nation, and city. Also that Rock Point Church would continue to pursue the Great Commission. But praying for our own needs and interceding for others are also important reasons to fast and pray. Bring your personal needs before the Lord, intercede for your loved ones and your friends. Pray also for your church, your pastor and your community. By your prayers, as you fast with humility, you will help the Great Commission be fulfilled (1 John 5:14-15).
However, do not become so caught up in praying for yourself and others that you forget about simply reverencing and praising God. True spiritual fasting focuses on God. Center your total being on Him: your attitudes and actions, your motives, desires and words. This posture can only happen if God and the Holy Spirit are at the center of our attention. Confess your sins as the Holy Spirit brings them to mind, and continue to focus on God and God alone so that your prayers may be powerful and effective.
A renewed closeness with God and a greater sensitivity to spiritual things are usually the results of a fast. Do not be disappointed if you do not have a “mountaintop experience,” as some do. Many people who have completed extended fasts tell of feeling a nearness to God that they have never before known, but some who have honestly sought His face report no particular outward results at all. For others, their fast was physically, emotionally and spiritually grueling, but they knew they had been called by God to fast. Even so, they completed the fast before Him as an act of worship and God honored that commitment. Your motive for fasting must be to glorify God, not to have an emotional experience or to attain personal happiness. When your motives are right, God will honor your seeking heart and bless your time with Him.Back to Top
All the experts agree that “breaking the fast” is the critical phase of fasting. While your body is in the resting mode, your stomach shrinks and your intestines become idle. So, solid food must be re-introduced very slowly to avoid kidney or digestive distress. In fact, after a fast, you should make a careful transition for at least three days before returning to eating meats, fats or normal foods. Further, if you end your fast gradually, the beneficial physical and spiritual effects will linger for days. But if you rush into solid foods, you may lose much of your deep sense of peace and experience physical problems such as diarrhea, or strong digestive pain.Back to Top
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself as you end your fast:
Before you end your fast and establish a regular eating schedule, it will be important to set aside time to get in the “Fast Lane” on a regular basis. This is vital if you are going to apply and live out the lessons learned during your fast. 1 Corinthians 11:24-28 says that Paul “fasted often.” But why? You must view fasting as a new way of life, not just a vacation from the old way. According to 2 Corinthians 5:17, “The old is gone and the new has come.” Fasting regularly will help you maintain a level of discipline and spirituality that is necessary to hold the ground surrendered by Satan.
Regular fasts will keep the flesh in submission and serve as a reminder as to who is in charge of your life. Choose a regular fasting schedule to follow. There are those who have chosen to fast one twenty-four hour period per week. Others fast sun up to sun down, one day per week. You must pray and design a format that you feel God wants for you, a system that you can be faithful to and consistent with.Back to Top