Biblical fasting can be defined as abstaining from food for spiritual purposes. Simply going without food because it is not available or for medical reasons is not biblical fasting. There must be a spiritual motivation to qualify a fast as biblical.
In his book “A Hunger for God,” John Piper writes, “Christian fasting, at its root, is the hunger of a homesickness for God. Christian fasting is not only the spontaneous effect of superior satisfaction in God, it is also a chosen weapon against every force in the world that would take that satisfaction away.”
There are three types of fasts that can be described as “biblical”:
Beginners in fasting should start slow. Progressive steps help our bodies adjust to the drop in food intake. You can start by fasting for one meal or for one day.
Those planning for an extended fast (more than 14 days) should always consult a doctor beforehand. Prepare mentally and physically by cutting down on food intake one week before the actual fast and taking on a vegetarian diet to control cravings for food. Reduce intake of strong beverages like coffee, tea or soft drinks as well. Drink plenty of water.
Spend the time that you would normally use for meals to pray and seek the Lord. Keep a journal on what the Lord has been showing you and teaching you.
Continue to drink plenty of water. Apple or watermelon juice are great morale boosters. Sleep early — the first few days of the fast are usually the most challenging. Persevere through this period. Consult your doctor about any severe headaches or bodily reactions.
Do not break extended fasts abruptly. Start by taking small portions of fruits, vegetables and liquids. Pace yourself to return slowly to your normal diet in about a week.
Do not have a big celebration feast when breaking a fast! Your body may not be used to the sudden increased intake. Be cautious, and always consult your doctor if you are unsure of your physical condition.
About the Author: Sheri is a native Arizonian who has followed the Lord and her sense of adventure to live and minister around the world. She and her husband, Keith, have three children and currently serve as directors of leadership resources for global student-led movements. Their scope includes Brazil, Greece, India, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, South Korea, Spain and Zimbabwe among other countries.
The advice in this article has been curated from Philip O’Reilly, “Prayer & Fasting for Breakthroughs: Nurturing Our Hunger & Thirst for God” (2002); Bill Bright, “Your Personal Guide to Fasting and Prayer,” (1997); John Piper, “A Hunger for God,” (Wheaton, Crossway, 1997).
There is little instruction about how to fast in the Bible, but there are plenty of examples of people who fasted. Learn about the key times in which individuals and nations fasted in the Bible.
Fasting helps you to humble yourself and remember that you depend on God alone to meet all your needs. And for a time, it makes feeding your soul a higher priority than feeding your body.
We desperately need to see the face and hear the voice of our heavenly Father. I give up physical food to receive spiritual nourishment. So does it work? How do you know if you’re “doing it right”?
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