Fasting 101: A Beginner’s Guide
I was eighteen the first time I fasted. I was a sophomore in college and really did not know exactly what it meant to “fast”. At the time I had just joined a new church and fasting was something they did every year around September. It was a three day fast (no food, no water). When it came time to actually do the fast I was really nervous and not even sure it was healthy, but I was determined. Although in it was difficult, I am happy to say that I did it. Fast forward to today, I am 38, and proud to say that I still fast. Fasting has played a major role in my life and has greatly contributed to my spiritual growth.
There are many different types of fast as well as various reasons why people fast. My only precaution with any type of fast, is to consult your primary doctor or a healthcare professional to make sure you are not putting yourself in danger.
The purpose of this article is to discuss what exactly is fasting, how you should approach fasting, as well as the benefits of fasting.
What is Fasting?
According to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, fasting is defined as abstaining from all or some kinds of food or drink especially for religious observance. However, I define fasting as anything a person is willing to give up for God. Therefore, that means you do not necessarily have to give up food and liquids for it to be considered a fast. You may choose to fast from anything in your life that serves as a distraction from you being able to focus on God (i.e. social media, television) for any given amount of time or days. Whatever you choose to give up, the impact of the fast comes not from how long you elect to abstain from those things. It’s rather determined by the attitude and the posture of your heart as you go into the fast.
Fasting is not magic! Just because you fast it does not mean your prayer will be answered. If you enter into a fast with that approach the posture of your heart will need to change. Before you enter a fast be sure to do a heart check. Make sure your heart is in the right place. You can do this by challenging yourself and asking yourself some tough question (s) such as:
- Is my heart full of anger?
- Is my heart full of bitterness?
- Is my heart full of unforgiveness?
- Is my heart full of pride?
- Is my heart full of resentment?
If you can answer no to all questions listed above, then proceed with your fast confidently knowing that nothing is going to obstruct your prayers. Fasting is about building your trust and faith in Christ, when approached properly overtime you will start to see the benefits of your sacrifice.
How should I approach a fasting?
Pray before you fast. This can be a simple prayer such as “Lord, I surrender this time unto you and ask that you give me the strength to get through this fast. In my weakness, you are made strong, I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me.” By praying you also put God in his proper position during the fast. You allow him to lead and you can take the passenger seat.
Ask God to lead and guide you during the fast. Pride cannot be the present during your fast. There is no need to advertise to everyone that you are fasting, or boast about your fast. Allow this time to be sacred time to develop a more close and intimate time with God.
Have a fast focus. What are you fasting for? By having a “fast” focus, you have an opportunity to be intentional. Without intentionality, you will just be dieting or not watching tv for a couple of days. Having a fast focus gives you something to pray for specifically. An example of a fast focus could be fasting for generational curses to broken in your life, fasting for spiritual maturity or strength to maintain sexual purity.
Meditate on God’s Word. When you are fasting find a scripture or several scriptures to reflect and ponder on. Take this time to allow God’s word to nourish you. Allow scriptures to get into your heart, mind, and spirit to give you strength. Fasting is not easy at times, but God’s truth will be your strength when you get weak.
Expect God to answer your prayer. For somethings only happen by praying and fasting. Fasting is an act of faith. Fasting is a mature response to your fast focus. There is no guarantee that immediately after your fast, your fast petitions will be answered. However, your sacrifice builds up your faith and allows you to trust in God’s sovereignty, even after your fast ends.
Benefits of Fasting
Breaking strongholds– One of the benefits of fasting is that it can break longtime strongholds that you may have present in your life. When you are seeking for a stronghold to be broken in your life fasting is the appropriate response to break that stronghold. An example of a stronghold could be financial generational curses or sexual strongholds. Strongholds are not always easy to break. Fasting for strongholds to be broken sometimes will take a process and a series of fast coupled with prayer will probably need to occur. Do not get discouraged if you don’t see breakthrough immediately. Over time God will truly honor your sacrifice and in due time that stronghold will be broken. In Jesus Name.
Spiritual clarity– Another benefit of fasting is that your spiritual eyes and ears will be developed. John 10:27 states, “My sheep know my voice.” When you fast, you are spending quality time with God. It’s during this time that God teaches you how to hear His voice. Having the ability to hear God’s voice is important and allows you to be able to make sound, and wise decisions concerning all aspects of your life.
Develop an intimate relationship with God– Fasting can be the building blocks of building a deep and real intimate relationship with God. During your fasting experience, you will find yourself falling deeper and deeper in love with God. As you start surrendering your heart, mind, will, and emotions to God, your relationship with Him will continue to grow. You may even find yourself being more transparent and open to God about your feelings and how you feel. Further, he may begin to share his secrets with you. It will be during these times that your love will become more intimate and your time with Him will be personal and real.
Types of Fast
There are various types of fast you can do as you continue on your spiritual journey. Before you start a fast pray. Ask the Lord what type of fast you should do. If you are considering going on a fast here are a few resources and types of fast you may want to consider:
- Daniel’s Fast: http://www.daniel-fast.com/
- 21 Day Fast: https://21days.churchofthehighlands.com/fasting
- 40 Day Fast: https://www.sdrock.com/uploads/docs/archive/prayerfasting.pdf
- Social Media Fast: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/a-social-media-heart-check