Fasting. What comes to mind when you think of it? It certainly isn’t an easy discipline but if we can change the way we look at fasting I believe we will hold a powerful tool for ultimately enjoying Jesus more. David Mathis calls this “sharpening your affections” for God. There are many forms of fasting, as well as multiple purposes of fasting found in scripture. However, the one we will focus on is that fasting captures our love and worship to God (Luke 2:37).
If you got it together and if you’re self-sufficient then this is not for you. Fasting is for those who are hungry and thirsty after righteousness and not satisfied with the status quo. Fasting is used for desperate measures, for desperate times, for those desperate for God. Fasting both reveals and remedies. Joh Piper states:
“She reveals the measure of food’s mastery over us – or television or computers or whatever we submit to again and again to conceal the weakness of our hunger for God. And she remedies by intensifying the earnestness of our prayer and saying with our whole body what prayer says with the heart: I long to be satisfied in God alone! Fasting is the exclamation point at the end of the sentence, ‘This much, O God, I want you!”
I know that fasting can be difficult. No one leaps for joy at the discomfort of fasting. But it is one of the most powerful ways to hear from God. As Christians, we know that Jesus assumes we will fast (Matthew 9:14-15). Thus, the question is not about whether to fast, but when. It’s not that we genuinely do not want to. Unfortunately, we never actually get around to doing it for reasons and distractions we must get rid of. David Mathis offers six suggestions of basic counsel on how to start fasting for new beginners. Be Blessed! Be Revealed!
- Start Small – Don’t go from no fasting to a weeklong. Start with one meal then work your way up to a daylong, etc. Juice fasts means abstaining from all food and beverage except water and juice. It’s not recommended that you abstain from water during any fast.
- Plan What You’ll Do Instead of Eating – Each fast should have a specific purpose. It’s not about self-deprivation. Without a purpose and plan, it’s not Christian fasting; it’s just going hungry. There should be a positive pursuit of God during the time it normally takes to eat or whichever activity you are fasting from.
- Consider How It Will Affect Others – If anything, others should even feel more loved and cared for when we’re fasting. Love for God and for neighbor go together. If you have regular fellowship meals with family, friends, etc. let them know ahead of time instead of not showing up, or even plan around their schedule.
- Try Different Kinds of Fasting – There are a variety of forms in the Bible on fasting: personal, communal, private, occasional, partial, etc. Have you thought about fasting together with your family, or church? Do you share together in some special need or God’s intervention for wisdom and guidance?
- Fast From Something Other Than Food – Some people cannot fast from food because of health conditions. Consider fasting from media, or some other form of enjoyment that would bend your heart back towards Jesus.
- Don’t Think of White Elephants – It isn’t fasting if you don’t turn your mind elsewhere when your stomach is growling “feed me!” Christian fasting seeks to take the pains of hunger and transpose them into attention towards Jesus or some great cause of His in the world.