GUIDELINES FOR FASTING

Our Need to Fast

  • It is a biblical way to humble ourselves in the sight of God (Ps. 35:13; Ezra 8:21).
  • It brings revelation by the Holy Spirit to a person’s true spiritual condition, resulting in brokenness, repentance, and change.
  • It is a crucial means for personal revival because it brings the inner working of the Holy Spirit into play in a most unusual and powerful way.
  • It helps us better understand the Word of God by making it more meaningful, vital, and practical.
  • It transforms prayer into a richer and more personal experience.
  • It can result in dynamic personal revival—being controlled and led by the Holy Spirit, it enables us to regain a strong sense of spiritual determination.
  • It can restore the loss of one’s first love for our Lord.
  • Fasting demonstrates our commitment to Christ. When a person is willing to set aside the legitimate appetites of the body to concentrate on the work of praying, they are demonstrating that they mean business, that they are seeking with all their heart, and will not let God go unless He answers.

How Does Fasting Help?

  • Fasting is primarily a means of restoration. By humbling our souls, fasting releases the Holy Spirit to do His special work of revival in us.
  • Fasting burns out our selfishness; we give up one of life’s greatest pleasures.
  • It brings yieldedness, even a holy brokenness, resulting in inner calm and self-control.
  • Renews our spiritual vision.
  • Inspires determination to follow God’s revealed plan for our lives.
  • Fasting helps to express, to deepen, and to confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice everything, even ourselves to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God.
  • It skims off the lustful cravings.

Fasting Wars Against the Flesh

  • The flesh wars against the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit wars against the flesh (Gal. 5:17).
  • Eating is the granddaddy of all appetites. Fasting is a commitment to bring about self-control and overcome every other conceivable temptation.
  • There are those who are seemingly oblivious to their bondage to food and to the fact that there is here a leakage of spiritual power. They mistake the lust that enslaves them for a natural and healthy appetite. Others are aware but show no alarm that they are slaves of the stomach. The truth that Christian discipleship involves self-discipline in this realm has not been taught.

Fasting Brings Power

  • The early church recognized fasting as a means of obtaining spiritual power.
  • Fasting is calculated to bring a note of urgency and persistence into our praying, and to give force to our pleas in the court of heaven.
  • Fasting produces the fruits and the gifts of the Spirit—but especially the fruits of righteousness and spiritual power over the lusts of the flesh and the lies of the enemy.
  • Fasting is a tremendous lesson in establishing who the master is and who is the servant.
  • As fasting and prayer brings surrender of body, soul, and spirit to our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ, it also generates a heightened sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Biblical References

The question is not should I fast?… but, Will I fast?

  • Fasting is mentioned frequently in God’s Word. Often it is associated with weeping and other acts of humility before God (Joel 2:12-13).
  • Afflicting the soul was indicating a fast; a means of self-humbling (Lev. 16:29-30).
  • Paul’s company was fasting for deliverance (Acts 27:9).
  • Anna was fasting for the nation (Luke 2:36-37).
  • James 4:7-10 does not mention fasting, but it does mention humbling (which is what fasting is).  Ps. 35:13; 69:10; Isa. 58:5; Ezra 8:21.
  • When you fast. Not if they would do it (Matthew 6:5, 16-18).
  • Jesus fasted 40 days (Matthew 4:2).
  • When the bridegroom is taken away, then they will fast (Matthew 9:15).
  • Paul “fasted often” (2 Cor. 11:27).

How Does Fasting Benefit Me?

  • Fasting prepares us for the deepest and richest spiritual communion possible. It clears and liberates our minds to understand what God is saying to our spirits. It conditions our bodies to carry out His perfect will.
  • When we persevere through the initial mental and physical discomforts, we will experience a calming of the soul and cooling of the appetites. As a result we will sense the presence of the Lord more than ever before.
  • Fasting in the biblical sense is choosing not to partake of food because your spiritual hunger is so deep, your determination in intercession so intense, or your spiritual warfare so demanding that you have temporarily set aside even fleshly needs to give yourself to prayer and meditation.

Do I Fast for Blessings for Myself, or for Someone Else?

  • True spiritual fasting has a focus on God. Our prayers bring results only when our hearts are pure and our motives are unselfish.
  • John Wesley (the founder of the Methodist church) fasted each Wednesday and Friday. This was in addition to longer fasts for special purposes.

Types of Fasts

BIBLICAL

  • The normal biblical fast is to consume water only.
  • The absolute fast is abstinence from food and liquids.
  • The partial fast is what we find in Daniel 10:3. Some say this is only fruits and vegetables. The verse also says “no pleasant food.” That leaves this type of fast up to many different interpretations.

EXTRA-BIBLICAL FASTS

There are many that find benefit in various types of fasting, which may or may not involve food and liquids. Here are a few examples:

  • Eat only what you need, and no more. For some, that may be less than 1,500 calories per day.
  • Juice only.
  • Fast from caffeinated beverages.
  • Fast from TV, movies, video games.
  • Fast from Internet surfing.
  • Fast from a hobby that consumes a lot of time.
  • Fast from intimacy with your spouse.

The options to fasting is unlimited, but the best ones are those that have a focus on food and beverages. This is because it’s biblical, and that is the primary thing that our body craves above all else. Depriving ourselves of our lust for food can do wonders in strengthening our spirit as well as giving us strength to resist all other temptations that are encountered.

How to Begin a Fast

  • Set a specific objective. Why are you fasting? Spiritual renewal, guidance, healing, for the resolution of problems, for special grace to handle a difficulty? Having an objective will help you focus and sustain your fast when physical temptations tempt you to abandon it.
  • Consider making the humbling of yourself the primary focus and purpose of fasting (2 Chron. 7:14).
  • Prepare yourself spiritually. The foundation to fasting is repentance. Confess any known sins. Go to great length in the confession process. Your sins (omission and commission) as well as your family and nation (Ps. 66:16-20).
  • Have you given thanks for everything (1 Thess. 5:18).
  • Have you been a witness for him? (Acts 1:8).
  • Are you proud of accomplishments? (Rom. 12:3).
  • Do you have a critical spirit? (Eph. 4:31).
  • Are you careless with how you treat your body? (1 Cor. 6:19).
  • Is your language clean? (Eph. 4:29).
  • Are you giving the devil an open door? (Eph. 4:26-27)
  • Do you pay your debts on time? Are you honest in finances? (Rom. 12:11).
  • Do you attend church regularly? (Heb. 10:25).
  • Do you lie? (Col. 3:9).
  • Do you allow lustful thoughts to dominate you? (1 Pet. 2:11).
  • Are you guilty of divisiveness? (Jn. 13:35).
  • Do you have any unforgiveness? (Col. 3:13).
  • Do you steal by doing less work than you could? (Eph. 4:28).
  • Does money or material things consume you? (Mt. 6:24).
  • Are you hypocritical? (Mt. 23:28).
  • Do you have a positive attitude? Do you gossip? (Phil. 4:8).
  • Prepare Yourself Physically
  • Eat smaller meals for two days before you fast. This will help you ease into it.
  • Wean yourself off caffeine during the week prior to your fast. Eliminating all caffeine at once can cause severe headaches.
  • Limit your activity level
  • Exercise only moderately.
  • Consider your medications and doctor’s advice. Those who are not healthy should consider fasts that do not involve food.
  • Set Aside Ample Time Alone with God
  • The more time you spend in prayer and in the Word, the more effective the fast.

Breaking Your Fast from Food

A fast of only one meal, or even one day without food, will not require any special consideration.

For extended fasts, of three days or more, it’s recommended that you gradually end the fast. If you rush into eating solid foods you may experience diarrhea, sickness, fainting, and even death due to shock. This is mostly true of an extended fast. You can lose much of your deep sense of peace and well being in the space of a single meal. Don’t break the fast with a feeding frenzy.  If you end your fast gradually, the beneficial physical and spiritual effects will linger for days.

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Posted July 20, 2015