Talking about any type of fasting in today’s immediate gratification society can be very unpopular. Going to church, praying, helping others are all wonderful. But ask many believers to fast! It could be equivalent to asking them to put needles in their eyes.
It may sound harsh, but I have found it to be so with some people. Nobody these days likes to skip meals. One friend went as far as to say to me that Christian Fasting was outdated, and that the best way to worship God today was to eat and be merry.
I have to admit that many times the thought of fasting “again” seems unpleasant. “But you fasted six months ago!” my body protests. “Can’t we wait at least, like - 30 years?”
Yes, the flesh will always oppose spiritual practices that delay the fix of cravings, impulses or desires. When I really do NOT want to fast is when I know I should fast, is my personal perspective.
Be it half-a-day, one day, three days or more days – Christian fasting has always given me a fresh perspective on myself, the situations that want to steal my peace, and how awesome and gracious God ALWAYS is in my life.
It has helped me time and again to conquer doubt, fear and unbelief – the relentless predators of faith and hope. There is nothing as painful or scary as hopelessness.
Spiritual disconnection forces a person to rely solely on their own understanding, which is limited. Christian fasting is the tool that cuts through the invisible world and propels you directly into God's presence. So it has been for me.
To me, Christian Fasting continually reminds my flesh that it is the Spirit of God which governs my life, not the lusts of this world or the whirlwind of thoughts, fears and worries that want to take over my every waking thought … and even my dreams!
Christian Fasting humbles my body and submits it to the obedience of Christ who is the rightful Lord of my soul and life. Anything else that attempts to take over is an invader and must be cast out, by force if necessary. Christian fasting is certainly, to me, a forceful spiritual practice.
Prayer is talking to God and listening through meditation. Prayer AND Fasting is like shouting. Not because God is deaf or unwilling to listen or help, but rather as added spiritual weaponry at our disposal to face the diversity or challenges we face while in this body and fallen world.
Christian Fasting is part of the artillery the Lord has given us to achieve deeper spiritual insight and overcome specific challenges. Having practiced Christian Fasting over the past five years, I have learned to focus on the huge spiritual benefits it provides, allowing that vision to become larger and more desirable than succumbing to the body’s every whim and desire.
Nothing calls more loudly or stronger than food!
Should I read the bible, pray and fast; or should I have that pepperoni pizza. This is the question of the ages.
Which is it going to be? The answer will certainly tell you who is Lord of your life. For most, it is the belly.
How to do your Fast?
In the Bible, a Fast was often for one day ( from sunrise to sunset). After sundown the Jews and early church would eat.
This format is still practiced by many Middle Eastern Cultures. (Judges 20:26; 1 Sam. 14:24; 2 Sam. 1:12;3:35).
Islamic fasting is often done this way. To start off your Christian fasting path, please always remember to go at is slow but steady.
Here are some practical suggestions if you have never fasted before, or if you need a better plan.
* Start slowly: Fast for short spans of time, such as one meal, then two, then a whole day.
For example, I usually have dinner the night before around 6pm, then skip breakfast and lunch and have a light dinner at 6pm. I just did a 24 hour Fast!
* Seek the advice of a physician if you plan to Fast for more than one day. Drink plenty of water – 8 to 10 - 8 oz. glasses of water, never soft drinks.
If your stomach is getting upset, eat a slice or two of whole grain bread to absorb your stomach acid.
* You may do a “juice” Fast, and drink small amounts of vegetable and fruit juices. This is not only very healthy, but it will have the same devotional effect.
In the Liturgical Churches (Catholic, Episcopal, and Lutheran), they do lent fasting for 40 days, to give up one or more items they like.
For me it is pepperoni pizza and other fast foods, coffee as well. This, too, is a good way to have a prolonged time of abstaining from what you like in order to focus on what God likes (Daniel 10:2,3).
* We can Fast for a variety of reasons—for our health (it cleanses toxins from your body), as an expression of grief and sorrow, or to gain self-control—all of which are good, and Biblical.
But, remember, the primary reason of Christian Fasting is to express our devotion and service to God (Col 2:22,23)
Some people do not even drink water when they Fast. However, this is very unhealthy. Do not do this!
Some do what is called ascetic or severe fasting that was meant to wear themselves down, as some Monks did in the Middle Ages. This is un-biblical and dangerous.
Remember, Fasting is meant to draw one near to God. Thus, if it is only for show, or only to keep one away from pleasures, but with no purpose behind it, it is empty, dangerous and foolish!
* When you are Fasting, keep yourself busy. Go about your regular routine, with the exception of exercise. Lay aside time to be in prayer.
Take a look under the hood of your will, life, relationships, motivations, goals, desires, and God’s call (Jeremiah 14:10-12).
Use this time to work on your relationship with Christ by reading His Word and praying. Do it with joy(James 1:2)!
* Do not break your Fast with a big meal; rather, end it gradually with small amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Just as you began gradually, you need to slowly and gradually begin to eat fresh vegetables and fresh fruits.
Remember, the purpose for Fasting is to humble oneself in the presence of God, seeking His Will with a prayerful attitude!
For the early church, Fasting also meant removing oneself from any pleasure—even their work in some cases. Hence, it could be manipulated to enable one to avoid responsibilities. Always keep your motivations very clear.
So, the questions begs to be asked: Is Christian Fasting applicable today? To me, the answer is a big, YES!!! Remember that Jesus Himself Fasted (Luke 4:1,2)!
He then assumed His disciples would Fast, as He said when, not if (Matt.6:16,17 ;9:14,15)! When Fasting is done properly, it will glorify and please God!
Fasting includes and energizes prayer, and the seeking of God’s will (Matt.17:20,21)!
Fasting was, and still is, an important way to engage an uncluttered mind in prayer, as Fasting, when done properly, will remove most, if not all distractions from your mindset.
Christian Fasting and prayer are serious matters! Both involve going before a Holy God!
Fasting must be taken seriously and prayerfully; it must never be a ritual, but rather a heartfelt seeking of God’s will and glory in one's own life and in the life of the church!
A sign of real Christian Fasting and prayer is when repentance and obedience are evident; if not, you may be performing a ritual for show (Isa. 58:3-9;Heb. 11:6).
There will be times when you will go through stress and confusion in your Christian walk.
You may not see a way to get yourself out of it, and you may even feel hopeless. You need to realize that He is in control, and this confusion is temporary.
He may be taking you through this journey so your eyes can be more on Him and less on yourself.
Prayer and Christian Fasting can be effective tools in seeking His will.
Fasting will supercharge your prayer life, and reboot your spiritual growth. We can better understand what God wants of us, even when we are in spiritual confusion! (2 Chron. 20:3,4).
More verses on fasting: Deut. 9:9-29,10:1-11;Exodus 34:28;1 Kings 17:5-7;2 Chronicles 20:1-29; Esther 4-8;Ezra 8:21-23,31;10:6,10:10,11;Daniel 1:8-17;10:2,3;Joel 1:13,14, 2:12,15 ,18-27;Matthew 3:4;4:1-3;Luke 2:36,38;Acts 9:7-19;10:30,31;1 Cor. 7:5;11:1,23-28; 2 Cor. 2:2-23;6:4-10; 11:23-28