Prayer & Fasting
Fasting is called a “Spiritual Discipline” and is a powerful way that the Holy Spirit can transform your life. Fasting and prayer can bring about revival – an awakening in our hearts about who God is and what he can do through our lives, through our church and in our city.
"When you practice some appetite-denying discipline to better concentrate on God, don’t make a production out of it. It might turn you into a small-time celebrity but it won’t make you a saint. If you ‘go into training’ inwardly, act normal outwardly. Shampoo and comb your hair, brush your teeth, wash your face. God doesn’t require attention-getting devices. He won’t overlook what you are doing; he’ll reward you well."
Types of Fasting
The goal of fasting is to draw nearer to God. Biblical fasting always has to do with eliminating distractions for a spiritual purpose; it hits the reset button of our soul and renews us from the inside out. It focuses us and reminds us we are spiritual beings. It changes our perspective and makes room for more of Jesus voice in our hearts.
Your personal fast should present a level of challenge, but it is very important to know your body, your options, and most importantly, to seek God in prayer and follow what the Holy Spirit leads you to do.
In this type of fast, you drink only liquids, typically water with light juices as an option.
This type of fast involves removing certain elements from your diet. One example of a selective fast is the Daniel Fast, during which you remove meat, sweets, and bread from your diet and consume water and juice for fluids and fruits and vegetables for food.
This fast is sometimes called the “Jewish Fast” and involves abstaining from eating any type of food in the morning and afternoon. This can either correlate to specific times of the day, such as 6:00 am to 3:00 pm, or from sunup to sundown.
This fast is a great option if you do not have much experience fasting food, have health issues that prevent you from fasting food, or if you wish to refocus certain areas of your life that are out of balance. For example, you might choose to stop using social media or watching television for the duration of the fast and then carefully bring that element back into your life in healthy doses at the conclusion of the fast.
"He told his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people: “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: ‘Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.’
13 “Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, ‘God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.’”
14 Jesus commented, “This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself."
BEFORE YOU FAST
Start with a clear goal. Be specific. Why are you fasting? What are you believing God for as a purpose for your fast? Do you need direction, healing, restoration of marriage or family issues? Are you facing financial difficulties? Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance – He will give it freely.
Deciding What to Fast
The type of fasting you choose is up to you. You could go on a full fast in which you only drink liquids, or you may desire to fast like Daniel, who fasted from sweets and meats, and the only liquid he drank was water.
Deciding How Long
How long you fast is a decision that you make with God. You can fast:
- One or two meals a day
- One day a week
- 1 week
- 21 days
It’s up to you.
If you have never fasted before, why not start slow and practice this habit regularly and work up to longer periods of time?
What to Expect
When you fast your body detoxifies, eliminating toxins from your system. This can cause mild discomfort such as headaches and irritability during withdrawal from caffeine and sugars. And naturally, you will have hunger pains. Limit your activity and exercise moderately. Take time to rest. If your job is physically demanding then use wisdom and be fair to your employer – and take that into consideration when deciding how you will fast.
Fasting brings about miraculous results. You are following Jesus’ example when you fast. Spend time listening to praise and worship. Pray as often as you can throughout the day. Get away from the normal distractions as much as possible and keep your heart and mind set on seeking God’s face.
Fasting is a natural and supernatural activity. Therefore it’s important that as much as you prepare physically that you prepare spiritually also.This can involve asking God a question like David did:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”
Psalm 139:23-24 NLT
Ask God to reveal to you:
- any sin in your life that you can confess to God and ask forgiveness
- any areas of weakness that you need the Holy Spirit to help you with
- how to surrender your life in a greater way to Jesus Christ and reject the things in the world that are trying to hold you back (Romans 12:1-2).
DURING YOUR FAST
Prayer can be however you relate to God as you rely on Him to satisfy your hunger. Praying for protection, for strength and insight is helpful and praying in tongues will help you to strengthen yourself in God (1 Corinthians 14:4)
Read the Word of God
Jesus says in Matthew 4:4 “It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth” (MSG) Since fasting is a spiritual exercise, reading God’s Word strengthens your faith and allows truth to be spoken into your spirit.
Journal your experiences
When God speaks to you (and He will) it is a great idea to journal what He says. You will be amazed at the end of your fast what God has done in your life and what that testimony will bring as you grow in God. It could be pages of journaling or simply dot-points – it’s up to you
While fasting the idea is that you take the time that you would normally use to prepare and eat food to spend praying, reading God’s Word and creating space to hear God speak to you.
“Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.”
Matt 6:6 MSG
Ending your Fast
When the time comes to end your fast, depending on how long you have fasted for will depend how long you should take to break it. The longer you fast, the longer you should take in easing back in to eating food. Start with fresh fruits and vegetables and stay clear of highly processed foods that will shock your body and cause discomfort.