A HUNGER FOR GOD
What is Biblical fasting?
Fasting is not simply going without food - that’s dieting! Biblical fasting is refraining from food for a spiritual purpose and has always been part of a healthy relationship with God. Fasting is really about renouncing the natural (to eat) to invoke the supernatural.
Fasting humbles us, brings us closer to God, motivates us to pray and helps us to walk in the spirit. Fasting is rocket fuel to every believer!
Who should fast?
In Matthew 6 Jesus gave us a pattern for living a Godly life; give, pray and fast. Jesus said: “When you give….when you pray…when you fast…” He made it clear that fasting, like giving and praying was a normal part of the Christian life for every believer.
“When they were sick, I dressed in black;
instead of eating, I prayed.”
Psalm 35:13 (MSG)
Daniel ate no choice breads or meats and drank no wine for a period of time to set himself apart for God.
“But Daniel determined that he would not defile himself by eating the king’s food or drinking his wine, so he asked the head of the palace staff to exempt him from the royal diet. The head of the palace staff, by God’s grace, liked Daniel, but he warned him, “I’m afraid of what my master the king will do. He is the one who assigned this diet and if he sees that you are not as healthy as the rest, he’ll have my head! But Daniel appealed to a steward who had been assigned by the head of the palace staff to be in charge of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: “Try us out for ten days on a simple diet of vegetables and water. Then compare us with the young men who eat from the royal menu. Make your decision on the basis of what you see.”
Daniel 1:8-13 (MSG)
Before Jesus entered his public ministry there were two important things he went through. The first was when the Holy Spirit came upon him and empowered him supernaturally. The second was forty days of fasting in the desert. He abstained from food and focused on the spiritual.
“Now Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wild. For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by the Devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when the time was up he was hungry.”
Luke 4:1-2 (MSG)
The early church fasted
Fasting was not just a single occurrence - it was practiced regularly by the apostles, disciples and early church. The church often fasted before making important decisions and in times of great need.
“One day as they were worshiping God—they were also fasting as they waited for guidance—the Holy Spirit spoke: “Take Barnabas and Saul and commission them for the work I have called them to do.”
Acts 12:1-4 (MSG)
“Paul and Barnabas handpicked leaders in each church. After praying—their prayers intensified by fasting—they presented these new leaders to the Master to whom they had entrusted their lives.”
Acts 14:23 (MSG)
Types of Fasting
There are several types of fasting - the one you choose is between you and God. Here are some suggestions for you to consider;
Drink only liquids.
The Daniel Fast
The Daniel Fast is based upon the prophet Daniel’s experiences as recorded in the Bible. Scripture gives us some insight into what he ate and didn’t eat; however, we don’t know his complete menu. What we do know is this: In Daniel 1, Daniel chose not to eat the royal food that he was being served and ate only vegetables and drank water. Another time he deprived himself of choice food, meat, and wine as he sought the Lord in prayer. Most commentaries believe “choice food” would have been rich food such as bread and sweets.
“Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink.” Daniel 1:12
“I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.” Daniel 10:3
SUGGESTED FOOD LIST
All fruit – fresh, frozen, dried or juiced.
All vegetables – fresh, frozen, dried, juiced, or canned.
All whole grains – amaranth, barley, brown rice, oats, quinoa, millet, and whole wheat.
All nuts & seeds – almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds; unsweetened almond milk. Nut butters are also included.
All legumes – canned or dried; black beans, black eyed peas, cannellini beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), kidney beans, lentils, pinto beans, and split peas.
All quality oils – avocado, coconut, grapeseed, olive, peanut, sesame, and walnut.
Beverages– distilled water, filtered water, spring water, herbal teas (no caffeine)
Other – unsweetened almond milk, coconut milk, rice milk, or soy milk; herbs, spices, salt, pepper, unsweetened coconut flakes, seasonings, soy products, and tofu.
For some, fasting from food is not possible due to health conditions. If it is advisable for you to not to go without food, consider fasting from television, computer, social media, or some other regular enjoyment that would distract you from spending intentional time with Jesus.
How to Begin
Start with a clear goal. Be specific. Why are you fasting? Do you need direction, healing, restoration of marriage or family issues? Are you facing financial difficulties? Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance. Pray daily and read the Bible.
Confess your sins to God. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal areas of weakness. Forgive all who have offended you and ask forgiveness from those you may have offended (Mark 11:25; Luke 11:4; 17:3-4). Surrender your life fully to Jesus Christ and resist anything that would hinder your walk with him. (Romans 12:1-2).
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 abstained from sweets and meats, and the only liquid he drank was water. Remember to replace that time with prayer and Bible study.
Deciding How Long
You may fast as long as you like. Most can easily fast from one to three days, but you may feel the grace to go longer, even as much as 21 to 40 days. Use wisdom and pray for guidance. Beginners are advised to start slow.
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. 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.
How to End
Don’t overeat when the time comes to end your fast. Begin eating solid food gradually; eat small portions or snacks.
“When you fast, you serve notice on your body and your carnal nature: “You don’t control me. I’m not subject to you. You’re my servant. You’ll obey what the Spirit of God in me declares I have to do.”
“A diet changes the way you look, but a fast changes the way you see.”
“Fasting keeps you sensitive to His Spirit, enabling you to live holy.”
“Fasting is markedly counter-cultural in our consumerist society, like abstaining from sex until marriage.”
“Fasting should really be made to include abstinence from anything which is legitimate in and of itself for the sake of some special spiritual purpose.”