The 411 On Fasting

Jesus assumes his followers will fast, and even promises it will happen. He doesn’t say “if,” but “when you fast” (Matthew 6:16). And he doesn’t say his followers might fast, but “they will”  (Matthew 9:15).

Fasting is markedly counter-cultural in our consumerist, pleasure seeking society. We fast from what we can see and taste, because we have tasted and seen the goodness of the invisible and infinite God — and are desperately hungry for more of him.

Fasting is for stretching our hearts to get fresh air beyond the pain and trouble around us. And it is for the battle against the sin and weakness inside us. We express our desire for God.  Fasting is a temporary measure, to enrich our joy in Jesus and prepare our hearts for the next — for seeing him face to face.

How to Start Fasting

Fasting is hard. Its easier said than done! It can be surprising how on-edge we feel when we miss a meal. You will most likely feel “hunger pains.”  You will have to deal with distractions. Here are six simple point to help you through! Fasting is Abstaining from something we enjoy.

1. Start small.

Don’t go from no fasting to attempting a weeklong fast. Start with one meal; maybe fast one meal a week. Then if you desire try two meals a week. Eventually you can do a daylong fast.

2. Plan what you’ll do instead of eating.

Fasting is a time for seeking more of God’s fullness. Which means we should have a plan for what positive action to take at the time it normally takes to eat. Take time for prayer and meditation on God’s word or some act of love for others. Have a plan with your Spouse. Each fast should have a specific spiritual purpose.

3. Consider how it will affect others.

Love for God and for your "neighbor" go together. Good fasting mingles horizontal concern with the vertical. If anything, others should even feel more loved and cared for when we’re fasting.

4. Variety of fasting. 

The typical form of fasting is personal, private, and partial, but we find a variety of forms in the Bible: personal and communal, private and public, congregational and national, regular and occasional, absolute and partial.

5. Fast from something other than food.

Fasting from food is not necessarily for everyone. Some health conditions keep even the most devout from the traditional course. “Fasting should really be made to include abstinence from anything which is legitimate in and of itself for the sake of some special spiritual purpose.”

6. Don’t think of white elephants.

When your empty stomach starts to growl and begins sending your brain every “feed me” signal it can, don’t be content to let your mind dwell on the fact that you haven’t eaten. Dwell on your Purpose! Pleading for the salvation of souls!

IDEAS: Fast Food, Sweets, Drinks, TV, Movies, Anything that you enjoy that if taken a break from, can raise your spiritual awareness of God. 

Right Attitude During a Fast:  Matthew 6:17-18 NLT But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Happy Fasting! I hope your journey with God and experience with Him will only deepen as you practice this spiritual discipline!