Fasting: Why Do People Do It?

Hope N. Griffin

Intermittent fasting is a buzzword right now. While today’s dieting world touts it as a weight loss tactic, people have been practicing this biblical discipline for thousands of years. The difference lies in the motivation. Intermittent fasting focuses on physical health. Christian fasting focuses on spiritual health.

What’s a Fast?

Traditionally, fasting is the practice of abstaining from food and most drinks for a period of time. That time is then replaced with prayer. However, this practice isn’t limited to food. People also give up things in their lives that distract them from God.

Here are non-food things people commonly fast from:

  • Social media.
  • Technology.
  • Television.
  • Smoking.
  • Alcohol.
  • Specific social activities.

How Do You Fast?

The point of fasting is to temporarily give up something that consumes a great deal of your time or focus. Instead of engaging in that activity, you focus your time and energy on God in prayer. Use the cravings and desires that come as reminders to turn your attention back to God and allow God to fill the spaces.

Luke 4:1-2 provides an example of Jesus fasting. Before He began His public ministry, Jesus took time away from the crowds, gave up food and drink and focused solely on God.

What Fasting Isn’t

Fasting isn’t a means by which individuals judge their own spirituality against those in a community. It’s not a measuring stick of how spiritual a person is or isn’t. It’s not a requirement nor is it an item on a checklist of how to be spiritual.

Instead, it’s a commitment to spend time with God. It’s a means of seeking God’s guidance and evaluating your own life in light of the Bible.

This spiritual discipline is about your relationship with God.

Imagine for a moment that you’ve willingly chosen to give up your most prized activity for your spouse or a friend. What would happen if you spent that time focused solely on that person? What would it do for your relationship?

Next Step:

Read “Does Fasting Actually Accomplish Anything?”

Related Topics:
Fasting Prayer

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