Fasting and Prayer

The goal of fasting is to draw nearer to God. Biblical fasting always has to do with eliminating distractions for a spiritual purpose; it renews us from the inside out. Finally, fasting is a theology of priorities sacrifice and devotion. It prepares our hearts for all the good things God desires to bring into our lives.

The Word of God does not specifically command believers to spend time in prayer and fasting but really prayer and fasting is definitely something we all should be doing. Prayer and fasting should not be a burden or a duty, but rather a celebration of God’s goodness. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “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.” 

1The Bible has much to say about prayer and fasting. In the Old Testament law specifically required prayer and fasting for only some events like the Day of Atonement (Jeremiah 36:6) or “the Fast” (Acts 27:9). Moses fasted during the 40 days and 40 nights he was on Mount Sinai receiving the law from God (Exodus 34:28). David fasted when he learned that Saul and Jonathan had been killed (2 Samuel 1:12). We also see prayer and fasting in the New Testament. John the Baptist taught his disciples to fast (Mark 2:18). Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights before His temptation by Satan (Matthew 4:2). In the “new church” of Antioch fasted (Acts 13:2) and sent Paul and Barnabas off on their first missionary journey. Paul and Barnabas spent time in prayer and fasting for the appointment of elders in the churches (Acts 14:23).

2Types

Complete Fast

In this type of fast, you drink only liquids, typically water with light juices as an option.

Selective Fast

This type of fast involves removing certain elements from your diet. One example of a selective fast is the Daniel Fast, during which you remove meat, sweets, and bread from your diet and consume water and juice for fluids and fruits and vegetables for food.

Partial Fast

This fast is sometimes called the “Jewish Fast” and involves abstaining from eating any type of food in the morning and afternoon. This can either correlate to specific times of the day, such as 6:00 am to 3:00 pm, or from sunup to sundown.

Soul Fast

This fast is a great option if you do not have much experience fasting food, have health issues that prevent you from fasting food, or if you wish to refocus certain areas of your life that are out of balance. For example, you might choose to stop using social media or watching television for the duration of the fast and then carefully bring that element back into your life in healthy doses at the conclusion of the fast.

Tips

Start small don’t go from no fasting to attempting a 3 week fast. Start with one meal; maybe fast one meal a week for several weeks. Then try two meals, and work your way up to a daylong fast. Perhaps eventually try a two-day juice fast.

Plan what you’ll do instead of eating because fasting is a spiritual discipline for seeking more of God’s fullness. You should have a plan for something positive to do instead of eating. We eat a lot which means we should now pray a lot. Make a simple plan and connect it to your spiritual purpose for the fast. Think about how fasting affect you and your relationship with other people. Eating is a social event and not eating is going to change your social life. You should plan for it and be ready to make social adjustments and activities that revolve around food.

Remember, your personal fast should present a level of challenge, but it is very important to know your body, your options, and, most importantly, to seek God in prayer and follow what the Holy Spirit leads you to do.