It is that time of the year when most people and even churches observe their fast.
Some people tends to fast at the beginning of every year, trying to commit the new year into God’s hands.
Fasting is the defined as abstinence or reduction of some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time.
Fasting is very good, it is biblical. Different categories of people in the Bible fasted. The likes of Moses, Ezra, Paul the Apostle, Paul and Barnabas, Daniel, Ahab, Esther, the kings and prophets, and most importantly, our Lord Jesus Christ.
In fact, the Holy Bible empathizes the benefits and need for fasting.
Jesus Christ told His disciples in Matthew 17:21 that “Howbeit this kind goeth not by prayer and fasting“. This statement alone shows the importance of fasting.
Fasting is a form of crucifying our appetite, humbling the soul and focusing one’s attention on God.
King David said in Psalm 35:13, – “I humble myself through fasting”
Fasting enables the Holy Spirit to reveal one’s true spiritual condition.
Fasting teaches discipline, self-sacrifice and reflection.
Fasting transforms one’s prayer life.
There are just innumerable benefits of fasting.
However, there are some things to note before/during:
1) Denying yourself of food and water in the name of fasting without taking time to pray and seeking God’s face is tantamount to you going on hunger strike.
My piece of advice for people is this: if you’ll fast and wouldn’t have time to observe a meaningful prayer, don’t fast.
Just eat your delicious food and pray in faith, God will still answer.
It’s just that prayers combined with fasting are more effective.
2) If you fast and pray without faith, it’s a waste of time.
Matthew 21:22 says “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, he shall receive.”
3) It is not legalistic to fast regularly nor it is wrong to join in corporate fasting.
4) While fasting can be healthy for many people, you should speak to your doctor first if you have certain medical conditions like anorexia, bulimia, or other behavioral disorders, tumors, bleeding ulcers, cancer, blood diseases, chronic problems with kidneys, liver, lungs, heart, or other important organs, diabetes, hyperglycemia OR pregnant or nursing women or those trying to conceive.
5) Fasting is not something you do for God. You fast for your own benefits. Your fasting doesn’t change affect God. Don’t feel you are doing God something good or you’re being a good child by fasting.
6) Tell only the people you must when fasting.
Your spouse will need to know you are fasting. Beyond that, you would be better off not telling people that you are fasting.
Telling your pastor can also be a help both to you and to him. It will be an encouragement for him to pray more specifically for you during this time. And you will know that someone is praying for your spiritual and physical well being.
7) Fasting is about the condition of the heart and not the number of days.
If you’ve not been used to fast in before, start slowly. You can start by fasting for one meal a day, or one day a week, or one week a month. Gradually build up your spiritual muscles so that you will be prepared in a period of several months to fast for an extended 40 day period.
8) When fasting, exercise 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.
9) Don’t break your fast with a feast. Eating small amounts on your fast days may be a safer option than doing a full-blown feast.
Breaking a fast with light foods, fruits and vegetables are the best. Stay away from starches like pastas, potatoes, rice, or bread and any fats or oils for a week or more. Introduce them very slowly and in small amounts. Afterwards, you can introduce solid foods gradually.
10) Fasting does not stop temptations and challenges from arising. Remember Jesus Christ? Immediately, after 40 days and nights fasting, the devil still had the audacity to come and tempt Him. But you know what happened?
Jesus was so loaded with the Word which made Him conquer.
Types of fast that can be embarked on:
1) Normal Fast – No food, water only.
2) Absolute Fast – Absolutely no food or water (Caution: Should not be undertaken
over 3 days and only then if you have a clear directive from the Lord and are in
good health). Esther with the Jews and Saul observed 3 days of absolute fast (Esther 4:16, Acts 9:9).
However, Moses and Elijah took part in forty-day absolute fasts. When Moses met God on the mountaintop to receive the tablets of stone, he ate no bread and drank no water (Deuteronomy 9:9). Also, after Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, Elijah fled for his life and spent forty days of fasting in the wilderness (1 Kings 19).
3) Partial Fast – This could mean fasting certain meals of the day or abstaining from
certain kinds of foods (i.e. No meat or sweets, soup only, fruit and vegetables
only, etc). For example, The prophet Daniel spent three weeks fasting from certain foods – Daniel 10:1,2
4) Juice Fast – Fruit and vegetable juices only.
For an extended fast, I recommend water and fruit and vegetable juices.
If you are observing juice fast, there are certain juices you must avoid and certain ones that are more healthy simply because of their acidic content. It is not advisable to take orange or tomato juice during the fast except when mixed with equal portions of water. The best juices are fresh carrot, grape, celery, apple, cabbage, or beet. Green drinks made from green leafy vegetables are also good.
Fruit juices are “cleansers” and are best taken in the morning while vegetable juices are “restorers”, they are best taken in the afternoon.
Note: Do not drink milk, any product containing protein or fat, such as milk or soy-based drinks, caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, or cola.
5) Jewish Fasting Period – The Jewish fast began at 6:00 P.M. in the evening and
ended the next day at 6:00 P.M. This ua also known as The 24 hour fast.
6) 36 hour fast
This is an extended version of the 24 hour fast. You eat dinner on day one, fast for the entirety of day two, and eat breakfast on day three. This type of fast can help jump start your transition into ketosis, or push you into a deeper state of ketosis. This can be done as little or as often as once a week, month or year.
Although the word “fasting” is used as abstaining from food and water, there are also some other kind of fasting that can be observed in order to have more time to humble oneself before God. These include:
1) Sexual fast: In Exodus 19:15, the people of Israel were to prepare for their encounter with the Lord at Mount Sinai and part of their preparation was to abstain from sexual relations for three days.
Also, 1 Corinthians 7:5 Paul says that a married couple can mutually agree to abstain from sex for a short period of time in order to devote themselves to prayer. But then they are to “come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
2) Sleep fast: If your regular sleeping time is from 10pm to 6am, you can decide to cut down the sleep or not sleep at all for some specific days so as to seek God’s face.
3) Social media fast: This is another important type of fast which I love to do so much. Going off social media will help prevents distractions that comes with them.
Conclusively, 2 Chronicles 7:14 says “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I
hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly – Matthew 6:16-18