The goal of fasting is to draw nearer to God. Biblical fasting always has to do with eliminating distraction for a spiritual purpose; it is like hitting the reset button of our soul and renews us from the inside out. It also gives us the opportunity to celebrate the goodness and mercy of God and prepares our hearts for all the good things God desires to bring into our lives. Your personal fast should present a level of challenge, but it is very important to know your body, your options, and most importantly, to seek God in prayer. Fasting without intentional prayer is basically starving.
Let's begin with what a fast is not.
Fasting is not a diet.
Fasting is not merely going without food for a period of time. That is starving. Removing food without adding a spiritual component will result in a shrinking waist and faith.
Fasting is not starving yourself for God's attention.
Fasting is not a way to manipulate God, which we couldn't do even if we wanted. Fasting does not make God do something that is not his plan. Fasting gets you ready to receive God's plan. We fast and pray for results, but those results are in God's hands.
Fasting is not self-mutilation.
Our pain does not pleasure God and He gets no glory from watching us damage our bodies. Our bodies are His temple. He expects us to maintain them.
Fasting is not only for crisis moments.
Fasting is not only a reaction to a need. It is a discipline needed to advance to new levels of relationship with God. Fasting and prayer can restore the loss of the 'first love' for Jesus and will result in a more intimate relationship with Christ.
So, what is fasting?
Fasting is refraining from food for a spiritual purpose. It's not about what we lose in food, but what we gain in God. It's a discipline of abstaining from something good, like food, that helps us concentrate on our spiritual lives.
In this type of fast, you drink only liquids, typically water with light juices as an option.
This type of fast involves removing certain elements from your diet. One example of a selective fast is the Daniel Fast, during which you remove meat, sweets, and bread from your diet and consume water and juice for fluids and fruit and vegetables for food.
This fast is sometimes called the "Jewish Fast" and involves abstaining from eating any type of food in the morning and afternoon. This can either correlate to specific times of the day, such as 6:00 am to 3:00 pm, or from sunup to sundown.
This fast is a great option if you do not have much experience fasting food, have health issues that prevent you from fasting food, or if you wish to refocus certain areas of your life that are out of balance. For example, you might choose to stop using social media or watching television for the duration of the fast and then carefully bring that element back into your life in healthy doses at the conclusion of the fast.
Nothing secures success in fasting like a proper plan.
Receiving God's best blessing 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, even during those times you feel weak, vulnerable, or irritable. Read His Word and pray. Don't allow your 'public life' to pull you away from success in your fasting.
Consider your schedule.
Know your schedule. What meeting, appointments, family functions, etc., do you have coming up? For maximum spiritual benefit, set aside ample time to be alone with God. 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.
- Pray for inner strength, conviction and growth.
- Read a book or dedicate time to memorize scripture.
- Take a short prayer walk.
- Listen to a sermon or teaching.
- Finish your night in worship.
During a Daniel Fast, we will often buy all the ingredients to prepare the food, but we forget to prepare spiritually. In the same way you reorder your fridge, you must reorder your spirit.
- Declare your dependence on God.
- Ask for forgiveness.
- Refocus on the eternal.
- Believe God to answer some specific needs. Write them out and pray daily over them.
- Commit to the Lord in prayer.
Write out your plan. This will keep you from renegotiating when you 'don't feel like it.' We all become excellent bargainers when we are in the middle of a fast. Don't let yourself off the hook; rather, press through into what God wants you to experience.
At Vertical Church, we encourage fasting for 21 days at the beginning of each year and again in the month of August. We believe this helps prepare us for what God will do in each new season of the year. Together, we faithfully seek God first, trusting in His power alone to create lasting impact in our lives, our church, and our world.
You may also choose to fast at other times during the year for your own spiritual development. It's very typical to fast a meal, a whole day, or three days or more. The timing of your fast is not as important as the strength of your focus on God as you fast.
For more resources on fasting, check out the following links: