Fasting is abstinence from food and privileges for a defined period in order to seek God’s face.
The concept of fasting is not new; we see it across both the Old and New Testaments. God called the people of Israel to fast on several occasions. It can be done by a group of people, corporately, or as individuals privately. Jesus expected his disciples to fast. Jesus says “when you fast” not “if” you fast (Matt 6:16) so it is clearly something which He included as part of being His disciple and it is also something which He clearly engaged in Himself.
The early church fasted (Acts 13) and all Christians through the ages have found it a biblical and rewarding way to seek the Lord.
Purpose: The purpose of fasting is to seek the face of God in a more focused way. When we fast our physical hunger pangs lead to spiritual hunger pangs. This is why Christian fasting is accompanied by prayer.
The purpose of fasting is Not:
- To earn God’s love (futility)
- To impress God (legalism)
- To impress man (hypocrisy)
The purpose of fasting is to:
- Humble ourselves (Psalm 35:13; Ezra 8:21)
- Seek God’s heart (2Chronicles 20:2-4)
- Be empowered by the Holy Spirit … (Luke 4:1-2)
Advice and Information on Fasting
Why do we fast?
- We fast from food in order to feast on the Word of God. We are saying to God “Your Word is more important than physical food, and just as necessary.”
- We fast to keep our “flesh” in it’s right place – bringing our natural appetites under control. They do not run our lives, but rather we are to be led by the Holy Spirit.
- We fast to free up time – even a few moments. Remember we are to pray and fast. Use your lunch hour or time when you would have had breakfast
- We fast to express the fact that we are totally dependent on God.
- We fast, not to get something from God, but to align our hearts with God’s heart.
- When we fast we humble ourselves.
What happens when we fast?
- Just as fasting causes the impurities in the body to come to the surface, so also spiritually things in our lives will be revealed. As God highlights areas of your life that He wants to cleanse and heal, be humble and willing, to repent of sin, renounce the enemy’s work and to receive afresh the filling of the Holy Spirit.
- Be aware that the enemy will want to disrupt your focus. Be careful in speech and actions and guard your relationships in family and in church.
- Restricting the flesh in us, will release the Holy Spirit in us.
- We are to fast focusing our attention on God, not on ourselves.
How do we fast?
- As well as food, you might want to include television, computer games, newspapers, sport, emails, text messages! etc. God may draw to your attention something which is significant for you to engage in.
- You can miss a meal, or fast 24 hours. e.g. 4pm one day – 4pm the next, or go a few days.
- Whatever you do, it is better to be realistic and try to keep to it, rather than being unrealistic and end up being discouraged.
- Spend the time you have freed up, praying for the Church, the nation, those who are not yet believers – or other issues that God prompts you to. Use the daily Hope Church Prayer prompts
- Speaking in tongues will really help you as you pray.
- It may help you to join with someone else for some prayer times.
- Begin by focusing on God in worship and praise. Using the Lord’s Prayer can be a helpful framework.
- As you talk to God, leave space so He can talk to you – have an open page in your journal/piece of plain paper
- Expect God to speak. This may be through the Scripture, that still small voice, or even dreams & visions.
- Remember to drink plenty of water or fruit juice while you fast.
- You may feel colder as you fast so remember to keep warm.
- You may find that you do not need as much sleep.
- The longer you fast for, the more you need to prepare by switching to fruits and juices, and the more slowly you come off the fast.
- Never get into condemnation if you have to break off from fasting before you had planned to.
Who should fast?
All Christians who, as true disciples, want to grow and mature in the disciplines of the kingdom. Jesus expected it of disciples when He is gone (Matthew 6:7- 17).
Who should not fast?
People with particular medical conditions and also pregnant women should carefully consider their situation. In certain cases, they should not fast