Fasting isn’t some magic ritual to try to get God to answer our prayer, and neither is it about harming our bodies or depriving ourselves.
The act of fasting is all about a desire for God. It is a discipline of abstaining from something in order to concentrate on our spiritual lives and satisfaction in God. The decision to fast should not be motivated by arrogance or legalism, but rather on what we gain from the process: an uninterrupted focus on God.
When talking about fasting, Jesus begins by saying “When you fast…” (Matthew 6:16), not
“if you fast.” That is an indication that fasting isn’t necessarily a commandment in the Bible, but Jesus seemed to assume that His followers would do it regardless.
People also fast for many different reasons: to mourn, to give thanks, to humble oneself before God, or to ask for guidance or preparation.
Whatever the reason may be, fasting is guaranteed to help us understand that Jesus is the Bread of Life, who sustains us and supplies our greatest needs (John 6:26-35).
If you decide to fast, you will be physically reminded of your spiritual need. And when you are, God will show you that He is what we are truly desperate for.
How do I fast?
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t fast by simply giving up eating. To fully maximize this spiritual activity, you have to set aside intentional time to focus on God. Read the Bible and pray when you would normally be eating or preparing food. Here are some great places to see what the Bible says about fasting:
- Psalm 16
- Psalm 42:1-2
- Psalm 63:1-5
- Psalm 19:7-14
- Psalm 119
- Philippians 4:11-13
- John 15:1-8
Practical Tips for Fasting
1. Start slow. If you’ve never fasted before, begin with just one meal.
2. Continue to drink water to stay hydrated. While some individuals in the Bible fasted from both food and water, this choice can be dangerous if you’re not experienced with fasting or haven’t consulted a medical professional.
3. If you’re accustomed to drinking caffeine, don’t stop suddenly. Decrease your intake for a few days before you fast or you may suffer headaches.
4. Don’t overeat before or after your fast. Eat smaller, healthier meals, including raw foods before and after.
5. Tell only people that you must, but try to be considerate of others in your schedule if you fast.
6. Make a firm, prayerful commitment before you begin that you can remember while you’re fasting. Your commitment to fast is between you and God, so be sure to make a sincere, wholehearted commitment.
7. Consciously reflect on Scripture and your experience. Your physical response will often reveal spiritual truths.