Fasting can appear to be a daunting task, but when combined with prayer and devotion to God, the rewards are endless. Fasting reveals our need of and reliance on God, while also strengthening our faith and trust in who He is. A fast can be difficult, but so often these difficulties are revealed during the process in the form of questions that one may never consider until the fast has begun. My hope is to help alleviate some of those questions and concerns, but also to equip you for the task.
FAQs of FASTING
1. What is the purpose of fasting? True prayer and fasting will draw us closer to God and His purposes. In Matthew 6, Jesus equates fasting with prayer and giving. Fasting brings a sharp focus to the dramatic difference between our physical and spiritual natures. The major purpose is denying the natural for the purpose of calling upon God to do the supernatural; He will enable and empower us to experience the supernatural.
2. How long should I fast? Determine in advance the length of fast that God wants you to undertake. Sticking with your commitment is important.
3. If I don’t eat one meal, is that a fast? Skipping a meal alone does not result in the most meaningful fasts. You must set aside time to pray and seek spiritual insight. Dedicate at least as much time as you would normally spend in food preparation, eating, and cleaning up for prayer and the study of God’s Word.
4. Do I need to have everything around me quiet? Often absolute silence can be more distracting than some noise. If soft, worshipful music can aide you in focusing on God, use it. If music is a distraction, use other physical tools to help you focus on God. Consider praying audibly in a kneeling position. At times, try getting on your face before God, helping foster an attitude of humility in prayer and keeping your focus. All other distractions and noises should be removed for this special time.
5. Have you ever been frustrated because God did not answer or lead as a result of your fast? No. One of the results of a fast is increased faith and trust in God’s sovereign will. I have had unanswered questions, but increasingly, I have less and less concern for specific answers to my concerns. True prayer and fasting will result in being less concerned about having God confirm or bless my plans, while it increases my concern and awareness for His plans and purposes.
6. How does a fast affect your physical body? Physical fasting actually cleanses your body. A good annual fast actually prolongs one’s life expectancy by 7 years.
7. Whom do you tell about your fast, and when do you talk about it? Should I tell anyone about the fast or is that drawing attention to myself? For lengthy fasts, your doctor should be consulted. Every person who goes on a prolonged fast should notify the people around them who will be most affected, which may be only a few people. The purpose would be to help them understand your heart, the reasons for your fast, and to encourage them to pray for you. It would be better to not share your fast with unbelievers.
8. How do you handle mealtimes with your family or business associates during a fast? During the first few days, you may want to draw aside to be alone during mealtime. After a few days, you may find it easier to return to sitting with family and friends at the table. Fellowshipping and sharing are also important. Restricting your appointments with clients, however, may be easier handled by stating: “I’m not eating today, thank you.”
9. Is food the only type of fast that will suffice? At the heart of fasting is the principle of “going without a valued necessity for the purpose of seeking God for spiritual renewal and awakening, personally, church-wide, regionally, nationally, or internationally.” Therefore, physical fasts are not the only method. While Jesus did endure a 40 day physical fast, such lengths are only wise after numerous less lengthy physical fast. If this is your 1st fast, it should not be lengthy. Perhaps beginning with a fast of daylight hours only, or withdrawing from one meal each day for a week would be good initial fast.
10. How do I know if a physical fast is what God wants for me? If God does not call you to fast, don’t fast! The deep burden and sincere conviction from God will be unmistakable. Some people do not experience a call of God to fast, possibly because they are not totally open to God’s leadership, or have not bee taught the biblical foundation for fasting, or are caught up in other types of sin that interfere.
Top Ten Scriptures to Keep In Mind While Fasting
1 Thessalonians 5:18 Romans 12:11
Ephesians 3:20 1 Peter 2:11
Romans 12:3 Colossians 3:13
1 Corinthians 6:19 Matthew 23:28
Ephesians 4:26, 27 Philippians 4:8
Top Ten Suggestions for a Physical Fast
- As a precautionary measure, check with your doctor before beginning any food fast.
- Decrease the size and frequency of meals before beginning your fast, especially a prolonged fast.
- Determine in advance what kind of fast you will undertake (e.g. total abstinence, water only, water and juice, etc.). Water and juice fasts help you accomplish the spiritual and physical purposes of the fast, while at the same time; they help you to maintain your energy level and your health.
- Avoid chewing gum during the fast. Chewing activates the digestive processes.
- Days two through four of the fast are often the most challenging.
- When drinking juice on a fast, non-sweetened and non-acidic juices work best. Tomato and orange juice are hard on your stomach, unless greatly diluted.
- If you (a) undertake a water-only fast, (b) plan an extended fast, (c) have a medical condition, or (d) are taking medication, you should consult a medical doctor familiar with fasting before you begin your fast.
- Consult other resources on fasting.
- You may need to restrict some of your physical activity during the fast, especially rigorous exercise.
- Expect some physical, mental, and perhaps, even emotional discomfort. Headaches, sleeplessness, and irritability often accompany a fast. But do not allow the fast to become an excuse for improper actions and attitudes.
A Great Resource for Fasting
The Power of Prayer and Fasting by Ronnie Floyd