Fasting: What is it?
Fasting is essentially giving up food or any other resource (distractions) essential to you, for a period in order to focus your thoughts and mind on Christ. When fasting, many people read the Bible, pray, or worship. Fasting is found throughout the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.
In the Old Testament it was often a way of expressing grief or a means of humbling one’s self before the Lord. Yet, In the New Testament it was a means to grow closer to God through mediating and focusing on Him.
In fact, one of the first things Jesus did before He started His ministry, was fast. We learn how to fast and how not to fast in God’s word:
“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry… Matthew 4:1-11 NKJV
When reading this chapter, we learn that even after we fast, we must have self-control. Don’t even try to eat that hamburger special right away. Ease out if you don’t want to become ill!
What can fasting do for me?
1. Fasting and prayer can help us hear from God. When distractions are removed, we can accurately hear what God has been telling us, trying to tell or direct us.
2. Fasting and prayer can reveal our hidden sin.
3. Fasting and prayer can strengthen intimacy with God, by drawing us closer to Christ.
4. Fasting and prayer can teach us to pray with right motives; Jesus wants us to be honest, true and focused.
5. Fasting and prayer can build our faith and increase our prayer life in Jesus.
Fasting can be carried out in several ways: going without food, eliminating activities, or forgoing sleep in order to seek Him. You can also set aside the intimate sexual relationship between husband and wife for a period. The intent is always to be in the Lord’s presence without disturbances so that His voice can be heard.
Fasting from Food
Fasting from food is one way to go.
What Christians Need to Know about Fasting, an article by Pastor and author Sam Storms,
talks about the different ways Christians can fast from food or drink.
There is a regular fast which consists of abstaining from all food and drink except for water (Matthew 4:2–3; Luke 4:2). Apart from supernatural enablement, the body can function only three days without water. For this reason, we mention that having water and taking your vitamins, is so crucial in fasting. You want to fast with victory.
A partial fast is when one abstains from food as in the case of Daniel while in Babylon (Daniel 10:3; cf. 1:8, 12).
As noted above, a liquid fast means that you abstain only from solid foods. Again, most who choose this path are sustained by fruit juices and the like.
A complete or absolute fast that entails no food or liquid of any kind (Ezra 10:6; Esther 4:16; Acts 9:9) should only be for a very short period. For anything longer than three to five days, seek medical advice.
There is also what can only be called a supernatural fast, as in the case of Moses (Deuteronomy 9:9), who abstained from both food and water for forty days (enabled to do so only by a miraculous enabling from God).
You may also wish to fast from all food for only a meal each day. Therefore, you can choose to skip lunch for a day or two or a week, or dinner, or even breakfast. All such forms of partial fasting are entirely appropriate.
HOW TO END A FOOD FAST
Don’t overeat when the time comes to end your fast. Begin eating solid food gradually; eat small portions. Think toddler portions!
The Daniel Diet is similar to this way of fasting above and takes preparation.
The Social Media Fast
This article found on Abide and Seek, by Nick Lincoln, gives us great in sight on the benefits of fasting.
Personally, I have never done this type of fast. I have restricted certain medias and turned off medias and electronics at a certain time. Its also a major requirement of ours when we do our family Bible Study.
Nick lays it out this way:
7 Benefits to A Media Fast
1. Clearer Mind
” Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Immediately after completing the first day of our media fast we noticed that we felt clearer minded. There are a handful of reasons that could have caused us to feel this way, one of them being in front of a computer or phone screen for an extended period. This can cause physical issues such as headaches, dry eyes, and eye irritation.
Not being on our phones or social media we believe has also caused this clearer feeling. We have felt more focused on what is going on with ourselves and less on what everyone else is doing. Now we are not saying we are not interested in what our friends and family are doing but the constant posts and scrolling through your news feeds can really make your mind feel jumbled and often takes away from truly honoring God through the respect of honoring yourself.
2. More Time
” Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” Ephesians 5:15-17
Each day that we wake up we should be rejoicing to our Lord to be alive! We are here another day for a God-given purpose and that purpose isn’t to go to work, then become distracted by the constant social media we have access to from our phones and computers, only to return home and ” wine-down” by watching 3 hours of Netflix. When we decided to cut out most of our social media ( not including phone calls, texting, and writing for our blog) we saw a lot of time freed up. Now we haven’t stopped doing our usual weekly routines and jobs, even so, we have seen more time gained from this fast.
We were interested to see statistics on the average consumption of TV and phone usage, strictly non-verbal use such as texting and the use of social media. The stats were unbelievable! According to Statista.com, we found on average that daily media consumption in the U.S. for 2017 was 238 minutes of television and 197 minutes on a mobile device… that is 7 hours and 15 minutes a day total! I don’t know about you but to us this average was alarming.
We are not promised tomorrow just like Paul wrote in Ephesians, but we do have today! On a daily basis, we don’t come close to this average before the fast but we have been investing in this free time through more social interaction with one other and by reading books and material that redirects our focus on God, not the world.
3. Experience Life in The Moment
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
When we stepped away from media, it has allowed us to be more in the present moment and to be utilizing our minds with intention and purpose just as God intended us to do. Media has a way of distracting you and allowing you to fall into typical ” patterns of this world” leaving less room for spiritual moments and quite often resulting in wasted time.
We discussed last night how our days have felt longer but not in a bad way. We have been able to enjoy our moments with more intent allowing our days to be filled with the time God has given us and it also allows you to see God working in your present moments.
4. Better Sleep
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28
Since the beginning of the fast, we have been continuing our couples devotional book each night, relaxing with the lights off, and we have continued to talk, but we haven’t been using devices before bed. Studies have shown that the use of a screen prior to bed can cause great disruption of sleep and the longer you are on them prior to attempting to fall asleep, the longer it will take to fall asleep.
We have seen improvement in our quality of sleep even if we are going to bed later than normal, which we have found interesting. We have felt more rested and with no slowing down with our daily routines. The effects our phones, computers, and tablets have on our quality of living are more than we sometimes realize, I know we have!
A good night of rest is a great starting point for a new day, without quality sleep so many areas of our lives can be directly affected. So, if you don’t need to be on a device at least 1 hour prior to bed, we highly recommend reading or praying. It is so worth it!
5. Stronger Relationships
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17
We live in an age where many of our so-called “relationships” are just an illusion. We hoard ourselves a pile of “friends” that we have collected by simply clicking a button and though many of us have hundreds of social media friends, loneliness has become an epidemic all over the world. So, what gives?
Though we are interacting with people through our phones hundreds of times a day, most of us have very few meaningful interactions with people daily. This has been one of the greatest benefits of our media fast thus far. Meaningful interaction. Not just between ourselves but with other people we encounter as well.
This fast has freed up so much time that though we are constantly on the move we are not as “busy” and rushed leaving time to relax and spend quality time in conversation. Though this benefit is tucked in the list at #5, it is one of the greatest ones on the list.
We were created for relationship with our Heavenly Father and with each other, a media fast is an awesome way to get away from faux relationships and back to the real thing!
6. A Re-appreciation For What You Have
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:12-13
When we are spending so much time on the internet browsing social media or watching YouTube, it’s hard not to fall into a consumer mindset. Businesses use these platforms to entice us into buying their goods and let’s be honest, it works. This mindset is easily overcome through a media fast.
We know from personal experience that it can be so easy to backslide into that consumer mindset. This whole week we haven’t had to fight off that urge at all. Not only is this benefit good for your spiritual walk with Christ, it can greatly benefit your wallet!
I myself have seen amazing victory over materialism through my relationship with Jesus but I know that this is still a huge need in the lives of many. When you learn to be completely content through Christ, the weight, and anxieties that tag along a life preoccupied with material things falls away. This is such a truly freeing feeling. As the spirit sweeps through and fills you with that inexpressible and glorious joy, you can’t help but wonder how you ever thought something else could fill this void.
7. Stronger Focus on God
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” – Hebrews 12:1-2
Saving the best for last, the greatest benefit of a media fast is a stronger focus on God. Even for those of us who live kingdom minded lives, it can be so easy to get distracted from the race marked out for us. When we slip out of focus with God, we see it in our lives and so does the world, we become easily agitated, we feel busy and anxious. All these things are not only detrimental to us but to our relationships and to our testimony.
Read how this fast went for Nick on site here.
Other types of Fasts
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 fruits 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 can be a Full Fast, a Daniel Fast, or a fast giving up at least one item of food.
Juice fasting involves consuming fresh vegetable and fruit juices, as well as water and herbal teas. You can easily make the juices at home or buy them from a store (only make sure it is 100% natural).
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.
Preparing Spiritually/ Salvation Plan
Before you can begin any fast, you want to make sure you are right with the Lord and that you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
Confess your sins to God. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal areas of weakness. Forgive all who have offended you and ask forgiveness from those you may have offended (Mark 11:25; Luke 11:4; Luke 17:3-4). Surrender your life fully to Jesus Christ and be ready to reject the worldly desires that try to hinder you (Romans 12:1-2).
If you haven’t accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, we want to pray with you.
Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner. I believe You died for my sins and rose to give me life. Right now, Lord, I turn from my sins opening my heart and life for You to come in. I receive You as my Lord and Savior. Thank You for saving me. Amen.
The next thing you want to do is go into prayer, ask the Lord what type of fast you should do. Allow the Lord to lead you for the success of your fast and the duration.
Once you know what type of fast you want to do, start making a list of how to go about it: A list of prayers to keep in mind, preparation, and support. We are here for you!
We hope this article has blessed you!
Scripture References for Fasting
Matthew 6:16-18, Matthew 9:14-15, Luke 18:9-14
Relation to Prayer & Reading of the Word
1 Sam. 1:6-8, 17-18, Neh. 1:4, Dan. 9:3, 20, Joel 2:12, Lk. 2:37, Acts 10:30, Acts 13:2
1 Samuel 7:5-6, Ezra 8:21-23, Nehemiah 9:1-3, Joel 2:15-16, Jonah 3:5-10, Acts 27:33-37
Remember that it is the attitude of a heart sincerely seeking Him to which God responds with a blessing! May God greatly bless you as you fast! (Isaiah 58, Jeremiah 14:12, 1 Corinthians 8:8)
If you are in poor health, pregnant or nursing a baby, or have concerns about your physical ability to fast, please consult a physician before beginning your first fast. There are different types of fasts recommended on these pages. Your doctor can provide advice on how you can participate in this Fast in a way that is healthy for you.