Spiritual Discipline: Fasting

Spiritual Discipline: Fasting

Approaching God for Spiritual Breakthrough

Fasting is one of the least understood of the spiritual disciplines as far as I’ve experienced. Maybe it comes from visions of Jesus in the desert wilderness wandering around telling Satan to keep his rocks while He was probably very hungry. Could it have come from the 1960’s hippy era, which one only had yogurt in the fridge and let it sit for 40 days while strumming a guitar with chants against the establishment? Who knows. So, what I would like to do is clear the air on what fasting is and some ways you can incorporate it into your Christian walk.

What is Fasting?

Fasting is simply a spiritual discipline, another way we may place ourselves in a position for the Lord to transform us. This discipline means abstaining from some or all food for a set period of time. NEWSFLASH: FASTING IS NOT A DIET PLAN! Once that notion sets in, the true spiritual sense of fasting is over and the focus turns toward self. A word of caution: before attempting to fast, you must understand your own health status and if fasting could cause an emergency medical issue. If so, there are alternatives. It puzzles me that a lot of Christians think fasting is a good thing to do, yet they don’t practice it. Why? Because it is very uncomfortable to go without food in our society of overabundance and instant gratification. Christians in the U.S. have struggled with the notion of the sin of gluttony and have even denied it. Fasting challenges those thought patterns so deeply ingrained from our history of a potluck at every church function and delectable food items for fundraisers to support the youth group activities. We also have a difficult time allowing the Lord access to ALLof our being– mind, body, spirit, and soul.

Fasting should always be coupled with prayer. Begin by reading Scripture passages to remind yourself of how God’s people fasted to gain greater intimacy with God, access His insight into situations, and  been given prophetic messages. I have purposely used fasting for God’s answer to extremely complex or deeply troubling situations. God answered and brought greater insight to concerns that perplexed me.

Decide if you are doing a full or partial fast and how long. Forty days is the longest I would ever suggest because that is the longest I’ve found in the Bible. If you are new to this, try a 24 hour fast to begin. Do continue to drink water, though. A step-by-step progression reducing your food consumption should be done for longer fasts. If you are doing a partial fast, decide which foods you will deny yourself. Many people pick sweets, caffeinated beverages, meat, and all snack foods. Whatever it is that you believe gets in between you and God is best. You will not need to step down your food if you do a partial fast.

I would also add fasting from your electronic devices for the duration of your fast. Eliminate outside distractions.

How to Begin

So during your fast, you can begin like this:

1. Get up in the morning and read a passage of Scripture relating to your reason for fasting. Meditate (that is prayerfully consider, ponder) on it all day long. By beginning in the morning it will keep you focused on God and His word. Psalm 119:48

2. Bath and dress as you normally would for your day. Don’t let anyone know what you are doing unless it is truly important for them to know. Matthew 6:16-18

3. Keep your prayerful discussion with God going the entire time. While you are driving, at times when your attention isn’t being required, but especially during the time you would normally eat, pray instead. Daniel 9:3

4. Write down thoughts, impressions, and distinct words from the Lord. .Watch for the God’s responses through Scripture, situations, other believers, and direct communication. If it goes against His Word, it is not from Him. Matthew 4:1-11

5. When you break the fast, begin with light foods. Avoid heavy or greasy foods or you will feel nauseous.

6. If God has something specific for you to do, set up a step-wise action plan and target dates/times. Make yourself accountable to someone you trust to stay on track.

You may be very surprised at God’s responses. They may seem like odd partial answers or something that seems unrelated to your reason for fasting. Never forget the overarching purpose for fasting: being open and moldable to our Creator of the Universe–Gpd. This Christian walk is a love relationship like none other. Fasting for any other purpose is ritualistic religion, not from a deep, abiding relationship.

A couple of accompanying tools You can use are Lectio Divina and the 4-D Living model of finding solutions to problems, situations and other issues. Bible study, Scripture memorization, and prayer are essential for this discipline. If you fast without the Holy Spirit’s involvement, you open yourself up to be deceived by Satan who likes to parade around as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). His purpose is to derail your faith. Don’t let that happen. Do it properly and for the right reasons.

Alternatives to food fasts are fasting from media: television, movies, internet, cell phones, etc. Essentially, it is simplicity from busy-ness by clearing your schedule of extra stuff, quieting the sounds we are used to having in the background. If that is something you want to give up during your fast, it would prove valuable.

Common times for Christians to fast are at the beginning of the New Year, Lent to Easter, Halloween (All Saints Day) as well as important issues with church life and issues of our nation which are of major concern. There are also corporate fasts led by pastors in churches and para-church ministries.

You can find fasting in Celebration of Discipline in Chapter 4. Here are some Bible passages related to fasting:

Luke 4:2Daniel 10:3Esther 4:16Acts 9:9Deuteronomy 9:9I Kings 19:82 Chronicles 20:1-4Ezra 8:21-23Matthew 6:16Joel 2:15, among many others. Use a topical index or concordance to find more.

Websites about fasting:

Your Personal Guide to Fasting and Prayer by Dr. Bill Bright https://www.cru.org/us/en/train-and-grow/spiritual-growth/fasting/personal-guide-to-fasting.html

Christian Fasting www.allaboutgod.com/christian-fasting.htm

What is a Daniel Fast? https://www.gotquestions.org/Daniel-fast.html

The Different Types of Fasts by Dr. Peter Holmes www.crosswalk.com/faith/women/the-different-types-of-fasts-11626299.html

Questions for discussion: What are some of your thoughts about fasting? Have you tried it? What were your results?

May the Lord bless you as you seek Him in all matters!

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Celebration of Discipline, Revised Edition by Richard J. Foster. Pp. 33-46. Copyright 1988 by Richard J. Foster. Harper Publishing Company, San Francisco. p.p. 47-61.

This is an encore post I wrote for Totally Fit 4 Life’s website in 2014, and was reposted on www.charlainemartin.com in 2021. With all that is going on in our world and country, I thought it valuable to repost it.

Categories: #faith, #devotions, #Christianwellness

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