WHAT IS FASTING?

 Fasting is a spiritual discipline that is taught in the Bible. Jesus expected His followers to fast, and He said that God rewards fasting. Fasting, according to the Bible, means to voluntarily reduce or eliminate your intake of food for a specific time and purpose.  

WHY FAST? 

The Bible clearly teaches that we should fast, but why should we fast?  There are many good reasons, but specifically our the United’n’Fasting and United prayer are for three primary reasons:  

1.     Praying for our specific area – Metro Nashville.  For all people.  Fasting gives us more time to pray. You can use the time you’d normally spend eating as time in prayer for what God wants to do in our city. In the Bible, fasting is always connected with prayer. 

“As they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work I have called them to.”  Then after they had fasted, prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them off.” 

2.     Pray for your specific church.  Pray for Saturday and Sunday.  That means all gospel preaching and teaching ministries that take place. Often the prep time is throughout the week and all the people involved from greeter, worship, prayer, member, guest, speaker, and leader.  When we pray we UNITE in a very serious manner.  When we give up eating to spend time in prayer we place a high value on what we are praying  and God honors deep desire and praying in faith. 14 Announce a sacred fast; proclaim an assembly! Gather the elders and all the residents of the land at the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord. 

3.     Pray for an Awakening – God’s supernatural power. Satan would like nothing better than to cause division, discouragement, defeat, depression, and doubt among us. United prayer and fasting has always been used by God to deal a decisive blow to the enemy! “So we fasted and prayed about these concerns. And he listened.” Ezra 8:23 (Msg) “God says, “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?” Isaiah 58:6 (NIV)  THE IMPORTANCE OF FASTING Often in the Bible, God’s people fasted immediately before a major victory, miracle, or answer to prayer. It prepared them for a blessing! 

• Moses fasted before he received the Ten Commandments.  – Exodus 34:28

• The Israelites fasted before a miraculous victory.  – 2 Chronicles 20:2-3

• Daniel fasted in order to receive guidance from God. – Daniel 9:3, 21-22

• Nehemiah fasted before beginning a major building project.  – Nehemiah 1:4

• Jesus fasted during His victory over temptation.  – Luke 4:2

• The first Christians fasted during-decision making times.  – Acts 13:2-3 

TWO CAUTIONS 

  1. Fasting does not get God to answer the prayer, but God answers our prayers out of grace and according to His will. Fasting petitions God and prepares us for His answer.  
  2. Make sure your health allows you to fast. You may only be able to do a reduction or a partial fast – do it in the same manner. Prayer

MAKING YOUR SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE THE BEST IT CAN BE: 

Receiving God’s best blessing from a fast requires solid commitment. Arranging special time each day with God is absolutely crucial in attaining intimate communion with the Father. You must devote yourself to seeking God’s face, even (and especially) during those times in which you feel weak, vulnerable, or irritable. Read His Word and pray during what were mealtimes. Meditate on Him when you awake in the night. Sing praises to Him whenever you please. Focus on your Heavenly Father and make every act one of praise and worship. God will enable you to experience His command to “pray without ceasing” as you seek His presence. As you enter this time of heightened spiritual devotion, be aware that Satan will do everything he can to pull you away from your prayer and Bible reading time. When you feel the enemy trying to discourage you, immediately go to God in prayer and ask Him to strengthen your resolve in the face of difficulties and temptations. The enemy makes you a target because he knows that fasting is the most powerful of all Christian disciplines and that God may have something very special to show you as you wait upon Him and seek His face. Satan does not want you to grow in your faith and will do anything from making you hungry and grumpy to bringing up trouble in your family or at work to stop you. Make prayer your shield against such attacks. 

Do not become so caught up in praying for yourself and others that you forget about simply reverencing and praising God. True spiritual fasting focuses on God. Center your total being on Him, your attitudes, actions, motives, desires, and words. This can only take place if God and His Holy Spirit are at the center of your attention.

Confess your sins as the Holy Spirit brings them to your attention and continue to focus on God and God alone so that your prayers may be powerful and effective. A renewed closeness with God and a greater sensitivity to spiritual things are usually the results of a fast. Do not be disappointed if you do not have a “mountaintop experience,” as some do. Many people who have successfully completed extended fasts tell of feeling a nearness to God that they have never before known, but others who have honestly sought His face report no particular outward results at all.

For others, their fast was physically, emotionally, and spiritually grueling, but they knew they had been called by God to fast, and they completed the fast unto Him as an act of worship. God honored that commitment. Your motive in fasting must be to glorify God, not to have an emotional experience, and not to attain personal happiness. When your motives are right, God will honor your seeking heart and bless your time with Him in a very special way.    

MAINTAINING NUTRITIONAL BALANCE: There are many types of fasts, and the option you choose depends upon your health, the desired length of your fast, and your preference: 

• A Water Fast – means to abstain from all food and juices

• A Partial Fast – means to eliminate certain foods or specific meals

• A “Juice” Fast – means to drink only fruit or vegetable juices during meal times 

I know the prospect of going without food for an extended period of time may be of concern to some. But there are ways to ensure that your body is getting the nutrients it needs, so you can remain safe and healthy during your fast. If you are beginning a juice fast, there are certain juices you may wish to avoid and certain ones that are especially beneficial. You may find the following daily schedule helpful during your fast.

• 5:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. Fruit juices, preferably freshly squeezed or blended, diluted in 50 percent distilled water if the fruit is acid. Orange, apple, pear, grapefruit, papaya, grape, peach or other fruits are good. 

• 10:30 a.m. – noon Vegetable juice made from lettuce, celery, and carrots in three equal parts. 

• 2:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Herb tea with a drop of honey. Make sure that it is not black tea or tea with a stimulant. 

• 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Broth from boiled potatoes, celery, and carrots (no salt). I suggest that you do not drink milk because it is a pure food and therefore a violation of the fast. Any product containing protein or fat, such as milk or soy-based drinks, should be avoided. These products will restart the digestion cycle and you will again feel hunger pangs.

Also, for health reasons, stay away from caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, or cola. Because caffeine is a stimulant, it has a more powerful effect on your nervous system when you abstain from food. This works both against the physical and spiritual aspects of the fast. Another key factor in maintaining optimum health during a fast is to limit your physical activity. Exercise only moderately, and rest as much as your schedule will permit (this especially applies to extended fasts). Short naps are helpful as well. Walking a mile or two each day at a moderate pace is acceptable for a person in good health, and on a juice fast. However, no one on a water fast should exercise without the supervision of a fasting specialist.   

HOW TO FINISH YOUR FAST IN A HEALTHY WAY:


Most experts agree that breaking a fast with vegetables, either steamed or raw, is best. Your stomach is smaller at this point, so eat lightly. Stop before you feel full. Stay away from starches like pastas, potatoes, rice, or bread (except for “Melba toast”). Also avoid meats, dairy products, and any fats or oils. Introduce them slowly and in small amounts. Extended fasts are not the only fasts which need to be ended with caution. Even a 3- day fast requires reasonable precautions. It is wise to start with a little soup – something thin and nourishing such as vegetable broth made from onion, celery, potatoes, and carrots – and fresh fruits such as watermelon and cantaloupe. In terms of resuming any sort of exercise routine, the advice is the same. Start out slowly, allowing time for your body to re-adjust to its usual regime. 

References

ADAPTED FROM:YOUR PERSONAL GUIDE TO FASTING & PRAYER By Dr. Bill BrightCampus Crusade for Christ, International URL: http://www.ccci.org/howtofast/ 

[1] The Holy Bible: Holman Christian standard version. (2009). (Mt 6:16–18). Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers.[2] The Holy Bible: Holman Christian standard version. (2009). (Ac 13:2–3). Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers.[3] The Holy Bible: Holman Christian standard version. (2009). (Joe 1:14). Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers.