It is a choice. It can be done. It should be done, but it is rarely done.
It always changes people and yet most do not take it seriously. It may drastically increase the results of your prayers but it still is rarely done.
It is viewed as difficult, yet almost nothing is as effective at life change as this.
Some consider it painful yet it results in great satisfaction.
Don’t stop reading here, folks…I want to talk to you about fasting.
We should fast. In fact, all of us must fast. Jesus assumed we would have a fasted lifestyle when he used the phrase, “When you fast…”
Martin Lloyd Jones defines it for us, “Biblical fasting is voluntary abstinence from any legitimate thing for the sake of some spiritual purpose”.
Fasting does not have to be complicated if we follow the Bible examples. Most of the examples of fasting were simple; simply fasting from food- all food- for a period of time. While most Bible fasts involved total abstinence from food, there were exceptions. The prophet Daniel fasted from “pleasant foods” and Paul spoke of fasting from “marital intimacy”. Queen Esther and her maidens fasted food AND WATER for 3 days when the life of her generation was at stake. Now that’s drastic!
We might also “fast” from media intake, certain foods that we are almost addicted to, a favorite activity or hobby, or even from time sleeping. A fast may be as short as one meal or may carry on for several days or weeks. As you develop this discipline, you can ask God to show you what He wants you to fast each time you are inspired to do a season of fasting. It allows us to get a handle on our addiction to food, drink, and habits.
Fasting is not popular in our self-indulgent, self-absorbed world. Sadly, most Christians have generally abandoned fasting. We are addicted to food. We are spoiled, lazy, distracted, and going in many different directions all the time. We are unfocused. We are not seeking after God with our whole being, which is what fasting is all about.
Fasting is a powerful discipline. It shows our seriousness, our spiritual hunger, our desperation, our discipline, our courage and our faith. The benefits are always supernatural.
The focus of fasting is not on deprivation, but on supernatural intervention. Fasting without some prayerful time and meditation may benefit the body, but without a spiritual focus it will not benefit the soul.
It’s hard to fast from food. We get hungry. There is food everywhere and when we fast it seems everyone we meet offers us something to eat. Some fasters complain of low energy. That may be true, because after a day of fasting your body has used up all its excess glucose and your energy sags. Then remarkably after about 2-3 days, your body is somewhat detoxified and the energy comes back. At this point in the fast, you could continue fasting and it will be easier. Your mind will be sharper, you will have energy, you will sense strength and lightness that you haven’t got when your body is busy digesting food all the time.
You will not die if you skip some meals. It is not harmful to fast for several weeks at a time. The body can tolerate going without food for about 40 days before starvation actually begins. Jesus fasted 40 days. Water must be taken, of course, to prevent dehydration. At least 8 large glasses of water a day are the minimum at all times, and perhaps more while fasting.
TIPS FOR FASTING
• If you have never fasted before, begin with fasting 1 meal a day for 3 days. Fast the meal that is normally your main meal. (And no need to overeat on the other two meals.)
• If you have already fasted before, then fast 3 full days straight with water only. (no caffeine or soft drinks or juice)
• To make this fasting effective, add some prayerful Bible reading and more prayer. Talk to God, opening your soul to Him. If you are in trouble, then pray fervently for that need or issue.
• If you think it will be difficult to fast alone, get a prayer partner and fast together with someone. It is always good to have a support system if you feel you will struggle with this.
• You may need to rest more while fasting but generally you can carry on with a normal schedule unless your work is hard physical labor. If you have a job that is very physical, you may have to make some adjustments in your schedule or take some time off work.
Some reasons to fast
• to humble ourselves
• to intensify our prayers
• to receive guidance from God
• as an act of worship
• to purify our spiritual lives
• for spiritual strength
• to detox and cleanse ourselves physically and spiritually
Fasting will strengthen your spiritual life, give you greater control of your desires, increase the effectiveness of your prayers and bring greater health to your body. We as a church are implementing this discipline several times a year to focus our hearts on God and make us less reliant on our physical desires.
Start a fast tomorrow!