04 Feb A Beginner’s Guide to Biblical Fasting
Fasting is all the craze right now. But the Bible has been teaching on it for centuries. Today, I’m sharing a practical guide to fasting and sharing the physical, mental, and spiritual benefits you’ll find when you fast.
Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only. There are people who shouldn’t fast due to medical conditions. Please consult with your doctor before fasting. This is not a substitute for medical advice.
Why You should Start Fasting
To Break a stronghold in your life
In Mark 9, a large crowd was following Jesus. There was a boy there would had seizures and would fall into the fire and water due to a demon.
His father asked Jesus’ disciples to heal the him, but they couldn’t.
Jesus rebuked the demon and it left the boy’s body. Afterward the disciples asked why they couldn’t cast out the demon. And in verse 29, He said that they need more faith, but also that the kind of demon the boy had only came out by prayer and fasting.
When you fast, you are fueling your spiritual self. You are denying your physical body so you can focus on things that need to be dealt with in your spiritual life.
A family member has lied about you. They haven’t apologized or even admitted it, so you won’t forgive them.
You know God expects you (and even commands you) to forgive, but you’re struggling big time.
A few days of fasting and prayer can pave the way to forgiving that person.
To Receive Guidance for Decisions
In Exodus 34, Moses went to Mount Sinai to receive the new covenant from God. He was leading the people and God called him to climb the mountain and write down all the laws for the people.
Moses stayed on the mountain (verse 28) with the Lord and during that time, he fasted for 40 days.
Fasting can be helpful when you need guidance for major decisions in your life. Are you quitting your job? Or starting a new career? Maybe you need to have a hard conversation with someone and you need guidance about what to say.
Fasting frees us of all the clutter of daily life so we can hear God’s voice more clearly.
You feel restless in your job and you’re thinking about quitting. A friend has told you about “an amazing opportunity” and you’re thinking about investing in the company he sells for.
You decide to fast and pray. During that time, your heart is settled and you realize that God has placed you in the job you’re in and you want to stay where you’re at.
To start a new ministry
In Matthew 4, Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness.
For forty days and nights, he fasted in the desert. And after his fasting, he was tempted by the devil.
The fasting and prayer certainly helped Jesus withstand the temptation, but if you continue to read through the chapter, right after the temptation, Jesus’s ministry began.
He was fasting in preparation for His life work to begin.
When you are about to begin a new ministry, you can fast and pray for God to bless the work of your hands. During that prayer time, ask for His guidance and favor. Plus, what better way to start your ministry than in a humble attitude of prayer and fasting.
You’re on a women’s committee and you’re about to host the annual women’s conference. You decide to fast lunches for the week before the event to get your heart and mind in the right place and also to spend some extra time in prayer before the event.
Choose a type of fast (listed below) and stay committed to what you choose to fast. Start small. It’s okay to start with a non-food fast or even fasting snacks between meals.
Substitute the time you would spend eating with prayer. This is the key difference between fasting for weight loss and for spiritual reasons. Be intentional about why you’re fasting, be clear about the spiritual purposes.
Don’t broadcast it. Do it as quietly/secretly as possible (see Matthew 6:17-18). God rewards those who follow Him in this way without trying to get accolades from other people.
Types of Fasting
Food Related Fasting
Water Fasting: Not taking in any foods, solid or liquid and only drinking water. Please consult your doctor about fasting this way.
Solid Food Fasting: Not consuming any solid food during a set amount of time. You may choose to have soups, smoothies, juice, bone broth, etc.
One Meal Per Day Fasting: You make a decision to not eat breakfast or lunch and give it to God as an offering. This is not the same intermittent fasting for health or weight loss. You have a particular reason for the fast and are intentional about your purpose.
Other things besides food can steal your focus from hearing the Lord’s voice. Things like social media, shopping, and television are just some. Thing about the “vice” in your life and consider fasting it for a period of time.
Spending Freeze: Fasting from online shopping or spending money at retail shops. Maybe putting all your store credit cards in a lock box for a certain amount of time or eating out of your pantry instead of going to the grocery store.
Social Media Fasting: Deleting social media apps off of your phone and not posting to social media. Choosing not to comment on other’s posts or scrolling videos for hours. Start small with this by setting limits on your apps. Set a time limit of 15 minutes a day in your phone’s settings and it will disable the app after you’ve used that app for the time limit.
Television Fasting: Unplugging the TV. My family used to do this every January as a start to the new year. The only exception was the Super Bowl IF our team was playing in it. 😉 You’ll find that once you stop following your favorite shows, it gets much easier. And as a bonus, you’ll have way more time.
Fasting from Secular Music: Music has a way of influencing us. If you’re struggling with taking your thoughts captive then I would recommend that you change the radio station in your car to nothing but Christian music for 30 days and see how it affects you.
How to Know What to Fast
As you were reading all those choices, if something stuck out as you and you thought, “There’s no way I could do that!” I’m sorry honey, but that’s probably the thing you need to fast the most.
Certain things become TOO important to us, and we don’t want to be mastered by anything. So if it’s your favorite R&B artist that you can’t give up, maybe you should pray and ask God to give you the strength to fast it for a few days.
Remember, start small and give your fasting to God as an offering.