One of the most powerful things we can do as we pray is to fast. It’s one of the many ways we seek to align our hearts with the heart of God. You might be asking – what is fasting exactly? Is it just a holy weight-loss program or is there more to it than that? How do I know if I’m doing it right?
So here is a bit of information to help help you learn more about fasting, how to start a fast, and the importance of it in your Christian life.
“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 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. – Matthew 6:16-18.
THE BENEFITS OF FASTING
Fasting is an integral part of developing our relationship with Christ. It is a time where we quiet ourselves from the distractions around us, so that we can hear from God more clearly. Fasting isn’t about losing weight, it’s about enabling ourselves to hear from Him.
WHAT YOU LET GO OF DICTATES WHAT YOU PICK UP
Fasting is less about what you’re losing, and more about what you’re gaining. Abstaining from food, drink, media, or anything else that normally feeds you is no easy task! Those who fast often acknowledge the physical, mental, and emotional toll that it takes on the human body, as you are denying yourself of personal cravings. This self-denial is important in bringing focus to your heart and mind, so that you can connect with God without interference. What you stand to gain will far outweigh what you decide to give up.
HOW TO SUCCEED IN YOUR FAST
When the Holy Spirit calls us to fast, He will strengthen us and give us the ability to carry it out. We’ve whipped up a few key tips that can help you throughout the entire process. So, however He has led you to fast, you’ll stay right on track.
1. COME WITH YOUR HEART TURNED TOWARDS GOD.
We must come into this time with a humble heart, acknowledging that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. When we approach God this way, our hearts are open to the word that God will release towards us.
2. BE INTENTIONAL IN HOW YOU USE THE TIME FASTING OFFERS.
When we fast, we create extra time in our days. As we give up something, we create space to do something else. This space should be filled with seeking God. Use this time to pray, to listen to dive into scripture.
3. EXPECT TEMPTATION.
Don’t feel bad if you feel tempted to break your fast. you should expect it. The key is having a plan for when temptation strikes. Temptation in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. In fact if there was no temptation, we wouldn’t need to depend on God. So see temptation as an opportunity to grow your dependence. Even Jesus was tempted when He was fasting!
There are several types of fasting. The one you choose is between you and God. He will honor your best sacrifice.
Drink only liquids (you establish the number of days).
The Daniel Fast
Eat no meat, no sweets and no bread. Drink water and juice. Eat fruits and vegetables.
A partial fast is from 6:00 am to 3:00 pm or from sun up to sundown. You can select from three types of fasting —a Full Fast, Daniel Fast or give up at least one item of food.
Scripture References for Fasting:
Matthew 6:16-18, Matthew 9:14-15, Luke 18:9-14
Relation to Prayer and Reading of the Word:
1 Samuel 1:6-8, 17-18, Nehemiah 1:4, Daniel 9:3, 20, Joel 2:12, Luke 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 (Isaiah 58, Jeremiah 14:12, 1 Corinthians 8:8).