While prayer and meditation have many volumes dedicated to the topic, the spiritual discipline of fasting has fallen silent until recent years. Clearly in biblical times fasting was a regular occurrence as Jesus speaks of it as though everyone regularly fasted. Today that is not the case.
Recently the health food industry has begun to discover the value of fasting on the physical body. But our intention is the development of the spiritual journey. As such “Fasting must forever center on God. It must be God-initiated and God-ordained.”
Three types of fasting:
Partial fast: a person abstains from certain foods, like Daniel did while serving in Nebuchadnezzar’s court (Daniel 1:8-16)
Complete fast: a person abstains from all food and only subsides on water, like Jesus did in the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights prior to His temptation (Matthew 4:1-4)
Supernatural fast: a person abstains from food and water, like Esther and her people did while she prepared a feast to provide an opportunity to plead for her people before the King (Esther 4:15-17)
How to Fast:
Preparing for a fast:
Taking the following steps will help your fasting experience.
1. Remove caffeine from your diet 2-3 days prior to the start of the fast. The heads ache that comes from caffeine withdrawal can end a fast if it coincides with the starting of your fast.
2. Eat only a light meal as your last meal. Resist the temptation to load up prior to your fast. This may lead to stomach discomfort or intestinal issues.
3. Plan your Bible readings that will happen during your meal times. This would provide a great opportunity to read through a book of the Bible or complete a Bible Study.
4. Know that hunger pangs typically pass within 15-20 minutes. Sipping on water, reading, praying, meditating or calling a friend can help to elevate the pangs.
Starting a fast:
Partial Fast: Often these are done for a season, like during Lent. The importance is that the whatever sacrifice is made it is committed to the Lord for the designated time.
Complete Fast: A 24-hour fast is often most easily accomplished fasting from a lunch ending at noon to a lunch starting at noon the next day. End the fast with a lighter meal consisting mainly of fruits and vegetables. After doing a few 24-hour fasts, one can begin to extend the period of time by omitting additional meals.
Supernatural Fast: This should only be conducted with clear direction from God that has been confirmed by others. Medical professionals should also be consulted during this type of fast.
“Fasting can bring breakthroughs in the spiritual realm that will never happen in any other way.” Richard J Foster, Celebration of Discipline
The Holy Exercise of a True Fast, Thomas Cartwright
Celebration of Discipline, Richard J. Foster
Fasting, Jantezen Franklin
It is recommended that a person seek medical advice before starting any type of fast.