Here are some practical tips I’ve learnt and used over the years to help me fast effectively. Remember: We are not asking/expecting everyone to do a full fast, we are asking you to “choose your fast” – just stretch yourself a bit, and seek the One who can satisfy every desire of your heart.
Also check out some of my other thoughts on fasting here
MY PRACTICAL TIPS FOR FASTING…
Jesus said: “When you fast”, not “if” you fast, (Matt 6:16). Jesus obviously expected that we would fast, and the early church definitely fasted – Acts 13:2; 14:23.
There are a variety of fasts mentioned in the Bible, the most regular seems to be fasting from all food, and drinking only water. Make sure that you do not have a medical reason which may affect your health when fasting. Check with a doctor if you have any doubts about this. If you have a medical or other reason for not being able to fast from food completely, then fast in a different way (eg. Fast from all solid foods). Food is not the only thing we can fast from. We can also fast from activities, TV, leisure, sport, hobbies, (all “things of this world”). Note: These are not “bad” things, but by giving them up for a season, we give our spirit man the opportunity to feed, focus, and be strengthened.
- Don’t make impulsive and rash decisions about how long you are going to fast for (Like Saul did in 1 Samuel 14). Be wise. Start slowly. This is not a one-off-wonder formula, but a discipline to be cultivated.
- Do not attempt long fasts without building up to them with shorter fasts. Start with a regular one day fast, and then develop this discipline as you are led.
- It is a good idea to decide how long you are going to fast for before you start, as that will help you to not make rash decisions to stop at the smell of the next meal! Sometimes you will need to stop earlier for various reasons, but don’t just do this lightly.
- The focus is on what you DO DO, (pray), and not what you DON’T DO, (eat).
- Fasting without prayer is starvation (Or at best dieting)!
- Fast with the right motives: to give your spirit man opportunity to draw near to God. Do it out of DESIRE, not DUTY or DESPERATION.
- Don’t fast to impress anyone, including God. Fast before the Lord, not men, (Matt 6:18). This does not mean that you will lose your blessing if anyone finds out! It’s a good idea to tell those closest to you about your plans, as they may not be happy if they cook you a meal and then find out!
- Feed RICHLY on the Word during your fast. Job 23:12 – “I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.” Jesus had clear revelation of “what was written” during His fast recorded in Luke 4.
- Fasting is necessary preparation for certain spiritual battles. Matt 17:21 “However, this kind does not go out but by prayer and fasting.” This needs spiritual discernment. Do this as you are led by the Spirit.
- Be specific about what you are fasting for. Have a clear purpose. Without “vision” your fast will soon “perish”.
- Pray to commit your fast and your reasons for fasting to the Lord when you start. Believe God for strength and endurance. Trust the Holy Spirit to help you.
- Don’t go looking for people to minister to during your fast – rather minister to the Lord, and let Him minister to you. Make Him your focus. Then be prepared to minister to others in power when you end your fast.
- Fasting is a spiritual discipline that needs to be cultivated before it will bear fruit. Initially the only thing you will feel it producing, is hunger pains! It takes training for our flesh to yield to the spirit.
- Make fasting a regular habit in your spiritual walk, rather than an emergency call in time of specific need.
- Keep yourself well groomed during your fast, drink plenty of water and brush your teeth often – breath fresheners are allowed!
Some guidelines for an effective one day fast:
- Fast from after the evening meal, throughout the next day, until breakfast. Don’t overeat before you start!
- If possible, drink only water. Drink lots of it.
- Substitute your usual mealtimes with Bible reading, prayer and worship. Consider focussing on a specific chapter or book of the Bible for the day, and have a notebook on hand to record your impressions.
- You may battle to focus on spiritual things during the day, especially if you are working in a demanding job. Try to have a specific verse to meditate on during work time, and use your breaks for specific prayer.
- Persevere, go to bed earlier than usual at the end of the day, and rise earlier than normal to spend quality time with the Lord before you break your fast at breakfast.
- If you make this a regular habit you will find it a source of great spiritual strength and growth to your spirit.
- Fasting is a habit which must be learnt in order to gain the most benefit from it. It is not just something we should do out of desperation in specific situations. I encourage you to make it a spiritual discipline habit, and you too will experience more of “the power of the Spirit”(Luke 4:14)