Fasting can be misunderstood to be a mystical or religious practice. Now while it’s true that in a time of fasting you may find yourself experiencing God in a unique way (or you may not), this does not mean the point of the fast is to have a mystical experience.
- Because eating is something we, as humans, need to do, by fasting we are demonstrating our need for God and His words and His instruction. This is part of Jesus’ meaning in Matthew 4:4 – “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”
- We demonstrate how we rely on God to answer prayer and not any system of our own or this world’s.
- Fasting is a tool that we use to train ourselves to seek God first and rely on Him above all. This is not a diet – it’s a time to seek God’s face.
- When you fast, you devote the time you would usually use for eating to prayer. Every time you get hungry, you’re reminded about what it is you’re praying about and how you rely on God more than even bread. You can use those hunger-pains as moments of prayer to God.
- Our corporate fasting times such as this Prayer and Fasting weekend are typically used to receive direction from God as a church. Use the time to hear what God is saying to us and share any prophetic words you receive with the church and the leaders.
Here are a couple of tips for fasting:
- We generally fast from all kinds of food (liquid-only fast) but you don’t have to do this if for any reason you can’t.
- If you can’t, you can fast anything else that seems appropriate to you – preferably something that you find you rely on every day or something important to you. Think about fasting TV or music or coffee or chocolate, for example. Yes, the last one is especially difficult!
- Liquidised steaks, thick soups, double thick milkshakes and the like are generally not considered ‘liquid-only’. If you have to chew, you’re probably eating! But you’re free to make up your own mind about such things and let God guide you.
- If you’re going to do a liquid-only fast, start eating smaller portions than you usually would a few days ahead to help get your body ready.
- Whenever you get hungry, use those hunger-pains as a reminder to pray. Offer up some prayer in response. Come through to a session at Bedfordview and join your prayers with the rest of us.
- The purpose of the weekend is not to be a hero or to lay guilt on anyone. Use discretion! If you’re feeling very ill, nibble on something light.
- After you break the fast, don’t go overboard! Have a light meal and keep it light for a while to get your body back into how it usually functions.
- Fast several times in a year so you can grow in this. John Wesley, one of history’s great evangelists, used to fast twice a week. He clearly used fasting very effectively!
Scriptures on fasting
- In Matthew 4 we see Jesus fasted for forty days and nights in the desert.
- Acts 14:23 says, “And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.” They fasted together, committing the newly appointed elders to the Lord.
- Acts 13:2 – “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” As you can see, it was out of a time of corporate prayer and fasting that God told the church to send Paul and Barnabas out to fulfil their Apostolic ministry.
Want more? Here’s 105 verses on fasting.
You might enjoy John Piper’s book, A Hunger for God, which you can download here for free.