More about fasting?
Fasting is an outward sign of an inward attitude. It is a time when spiritual nourishment replaces physical nourishment. In doing so, we build a closer relationship with God. The Old Testament prophets regarded fasting as a time to focus on the less fortunate. Preparation for ministry is the focus of fasting in the New Testament. This shows us that the focus of our fasting should not be ourselves, but ministry to others.
Why should I fast?
Many people in the Old Testament fasted when they had a special need or an emergency. (II Samuel 12:16-23, Esther 4:16)
Fasting was often a sign of mourning or repentance. (I Samuel 31:13, Nehemiah 1:4, Daniel 9:3, Jonah 3:5-10)
Some fasted to receive revelation or direction from God. (Exodus 34:28, Daniel 10:2-3, Acts 13:2-3, 14:23)
Jesus fasted before he began his ministry. (Matthew 4:2; Luke 4:1-2)
Isaiah prophesied that God wanted his people to fast for the poor and oppressed. (Isaiah 58:3-14, Jeremiah 14:10, Zechariah 7:3-10)
What are some fasting errors?
Fasting is not to punish your body. (I Corinthians 9:27)
Fasting does not earn God's favor. (Luke 18:12)
Do not let fasting become a source of guilt. (Romans 8:1-2)
Fasting should not be entered into lightly. God takes vows very seriously (Ecclesiastes 5:1-7)
Fasting does not guarantee a certain result. (II Samuel 12:16-23, I Kings 21:27)
There are different types of fasts in the Bible:
“Absolute Fast” - This is extreme and should only be done for a short period of time. This means no food no water and should only be attempted with medical consultation and supervision.
“Normal Fast” You typically go without food of any kind for a certain number of days. You do drink water and plenty of it! Depending on the length you may also choose to take clear broth and juices to maintain your strength.
“Partial Fast” This involves giving up particular foods and drinks for a certain period of time. This could also mean a certain meal everyday. The Daniel fast is an example of this where Daniel gave up meats and sweets for 10 days and only drank water and ate vegetables.
HELPFUL STEPS FOR FASTING
STEP 1: Set Your Objective
Why are you fasting? Is it for spiritual renewal, for guidance, for healing, for the resolution of problems, for special grace to handle a difficult situation? Ask the Holy Spirit to clarify His leading and objectives for your prayer fast. This will enable you to pray more specifically and strategically.
Through fasting and prayer we humble ourselves before God so the Holy Spirit will stir our souls, awaken our churches, and heal our land according to 2 Chronicles 7:14. Make this a priority in your fasting.
STEP 2: Make Your Commitment
Pray about the kind of fast you should undertake. Jesus implied that all of His followers should fast (Matthew 6:16-18; 9:14,15) For Him it was a matter of when believers would fast, not if they would do it. Before you fast, decide the following up front:
How long you will fast - one meal, one day, a week, several weeks, forty days (Beginners should start slowly, building up to longer fasts.)
The type of fast God wants you to undertake (such as water only, or water and juices; what kinds of juices you will drink and how often)
What physical or social activities you will restrict
How much time each day you will devote to prayer and God's Word
Making these commitments ahead of time will help you sustain your fast when physical temptations and life's pressures tempt you to abandon it.
STEP 3: Prepare Yourself Spiritually
The very foundation of fasting and prayer is repentance. Sin will hinder your prayers. Here are several things you can do to prepare your heart:
Confess every sin that the Holy Spirit calls to your remembrance and accept God's forgiveness (1 John 1:9).
Seek forgiveness from all whom you have offended, and forgive all who have hurt you (Mark 11:25; Luke 11:4; 17:3,4).
Make restitution as the Holy Spirit leads you.
Ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit according to His command in Ephesians 5:18 and His promise in 1 John 5:14,15.
Surrender your life fully to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Master; refuse to obey your worldly nature (Romans 12:1,2).
Meditate on the attributes of God, His love, sovereignty, power, wisdom, faithfulness, grace, compassion, and others (Psalm 48:9,10; 103:1-8, 11-13).
Begin your time of fasting and prayer with an expectant heart (Hebrews 11:6).
Do not underestimate spiritual opposition. Satan sometimes intensifies the natural battle between body and spirit (Galatians 5:16,17).
STEP 4: Prepare Yourself Physically
Fasting requires reasonable precautions. Consult your physician first, especially if you take prescription medication or have a chronic ailment. Some persons should never fast without professional supervision.
Physical preparation makes the drastic change in your eating routine a little easier so that you can turn your full attention to the Lord in prayer.
Do not rush into your fast.
Prepare your body. Eat smaller meals before starting a fast. Avoid high-fat and sugary foods.
Eat raw fruit and vegetables for two days before starting a fast.
Your time of fasting and prayer has come. You are abstaining from all solid foods and have begun to seek the Lord. Here are some helpful suggestions to consider:
Avoid drugs, even natural herbal drugs and homeopathic remedies. Medication should be withdrawn only with your physician's supervision.
Limit your activity.
Exercise only moderately. Walk one to three miles each day if convenient and comfortable.
Rest as much as your schedule will permit.
Prepare yourself for temporary mental discomforts, such as impatience, crankiness, and anxiety.
Expect some physical discomforts, especially on the second day. You may have fleeting hunger pains, dizziness, or the "blahs." Withdrawal from caffeine and sugar may cause headaches. Physical annoyances may also include weakness, tiredness, or sleeplessness.
The first two or three days are usually the hardest. As you continue to fast, you will likely experience a sense of well-being both physically and spiritually. However, should you feel hunger pains, increase your liquid intake.
STEP 5: Put Yourself on a Schedule
For maximum spiritual benefit, set aside ample time to be alone with the Lord. Listen for His leading. The more time you spend with Him, the more meaningful your fast will be.
Begin your day in praise and worship.
Read and meditate on God's Word, preferably on your knees.
Invite the Holy Spirit to work in you to will and to do His good pleasure according to Philippians 2:13.
Invite God to use you. Ask Him to show you how to influence your world, your family, your church, your community, your country, and beyond.
Pray for His vision for your life and empowerment to do His will.
Return to prayer and God's Word.
Take a short prayer walk.
Spend time in intercessory prayer for your community's and nation's leaders, for the world's unreached millions, for your family or special needs.
Get alone for an unhurried time of "seeking His face."
If others are fasting with you, meet together for prayer.
Avoid television or any other distraction that may dampen your spiritual focus.
When your designated time for fasting is finished, you will begin to eat again. But how you break your fast is extremely important for your physical and spiritual well-being.
STEP 6: End Your Fast Gradually
Begin eating gradually. Do not eat solid foods immediately after your fast. Suddenly reintroducing solid food to your stomach and digestive tract will likely have negative, even dangerous, consequences. Try several smaller meals or snacks each day. If you end your fast gradually, the beneficial physical and spiritual effects will result in continued good health.
Here are some suggestions to help you end your fast properly:
Break an extended water fast with fruit such as watermelon.
While continuing to drink fruit or vegetable juices, add the following:
First day: Add a raw salad.
Second day: Add baked or boiled potato, no butter or seasoning.
Third day: Add a steamed vegetable.
Thereafter: Begin to reintroduce your normal diet.
Gradually return to regular eating with several small snacks during the first few days. Start with a little soup and fresh fruit such as watermelon and cantaloupe. Advance to a few tablespoons of solid foods such as raw fruits and vegetables or a raw salad and baked potato.
STEP 7: Expect Results
If you sincerely humble yourself before the Lord, repent, pray, and seek God's face; if you consistently meditate on His Word, you will experience a heightened awareness of His presence (John 14:21). The Lord will give you fresh, new spiritual insights. Your confidence and faith in God will be strengthened. You will feel mentally, spiritually, and physically refreshed. You will see answers to your prayers.
For more information on Prayer and Fasting