“And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face.
Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. Matthew 6:16 (NLT)
REASONS FOR FASTING
- Show humility and repentance (2 Chronicles 7:14)
- To get closer to God (Philippians 3:10)
- Ask for something you desire (Ezra 8:21 31)
- Develop discipline (1 Corinthians 9:27)
- To know God’s will (Judges 20:26-28)
BEGINNING THE FAST
The normal fast involves abstaining from all forms of food but not from water and commonly lasts 24 hours, from sunrise to sunrise.
If you are fasting for the first time, you might want to begin by missing a meal or two. Over time, you can build up to a full day or more.
Begin by refraining from solid food, but drink liquids. Water is the best, since soft drinks ‘poison’ the digestive system and inhibit the purifying process, and coffee and tea stimulate the nervous system.
Before beginning the fast it is best to eat lightly and cut back on caffeinated drinks. However, during the first few days of the fast, it is common to experience headaches as the body withdraws from and removes caffeine.
During your fast set aside specific and significant time to worship and seek God. Plan where you’ll be, so your time can be unhurried and conducive to enjoying the Lord. Many people begin this time by repenting of any sins the Holy Spirit brings to mind and asking for God’s forgiveness. This is essential to ensure that sin is not hindering your communication with God.
Take breaks to study Scripture passages you have chosen. Don’t rush your fellowship with God. Take time to listen. Keep a notebook and pen nearby to record the ideas, insights, directions, and instructions He impresses on your heart.
BREAKING THE FAST
Breaking the fast may require as much discipline as beginning it and should not be done abruptly. During the fast your stomach contracts and your body’s digestive and elimination systems rest. The longer you fast, the more time the digestive organs need to reactivate before functioning at full speed.
If you plan to fast only a day or two at a time, it is best to end the fast with a small glass of fruit juice as your first meal. Gradually introduce small amounts of easily digestible foods such as yogurt, soup, fresh fruit, and cooked vegetables.
If your fast lasts longer than a few days, you should continue with juices for a day or more before gradually introducing more substantial foods like yogurt, soup and fruit. Be sure you introduce new foods in small quantities, and that it is chewed well. You should stop eating at the slightest sensation of fullness.
Do not have a big celebration feast when breaking a fast!
Remember, it is your attitude toward God and your walk with Him that is important, not how long you fast. God desires for you to love, obey, follow and enjoy Him. Deliberately abstaining from food is one way to demonstrate your commitment and sincerity in seeking Him.
An important benefit of fasting is that it promotes self-control by disciplining our bodies. When we say no to our natural appetite for food, we develop the will-power and discipline to say no to other fleshy desires.