helpful thoughts on fasting

Hello friend,

My hope is to share with you some thoughts related to fasting as you consider doing a fast. I understand the amount of content in this list could be intimidating, but I want to encourage you to read though it very carefully. The steps outlined below will significantly help you prepare, participate in, and come out of a fast. The thoughts are most specifically aimed at a food fast, but at times I’ve included ideas in regard to other forms of fasting.

how to begin your fast

Step One: Set Your Target

Your must start by answering the question, “Why am I fasting?” Is it for guidance, for seeking out a deeper relationship with God, for Christ's return, for healing, for a spiritual breakthrough, for unity within the church? Ask the Lord to reveal to you specifically why and for what you are fasting. The greater your understanding of this, the greater the focus of your fast.

Some say that we do not fast to get something, but the Bible says differently. Fasting is not a formula saying fast + ask = receive. However, Jesus said you do not have because you do not ask. He encourages his kids to seek Him above all else (including food). The reward of fasting is growing closer to Jesus!

In setting your targets, consider partnering with The Bridge in praying and fasting for our mission as a church. We long for people to:

1. Know God
2. Find Freedom
3. Discover Purpose
4. Make A Difference

Through fasting and prayer, we humble ourselves before God so the Holy Spirit will stir our souls, activate our church, and heal our land according to 2 Chronicles 7:14.

Step Two: Make Your Plan

Use discernment in deciding what kind of fast you should take. Pray about it and ask God to reveal the answer. It may be helpful to ask your spouse, a trusted friend, or someone from church to help you decide. Remember, the question isn’t “if” but “when” you should fast. Jesus made it clear that His followers will fast (Matthew 6:16-18, 9:14,15). Before you fast be sure to decide on the following:

  • How long will I fast? One meal for one day, the same meal for a week or 12 days? If you are new to fasting start slowly and build up to a longer fast.
  • What kind of fast is God calling you to? (Water only, water and juices, television, technology, etc.) Consult your doctor prior to any food fast if you have specific health issues such as diabetes, thyroid issues, eating disorders, or are on any medication.
  • Are there any physical or social activities that will be affected or restricted due to your fasting?
  • How much time each day will you devote to prayer and God’s Word?
  • How are you going to spend the time you gain by fasting?
  • Would it be wise to share your commitment with someone else to help hold you accountable?

Step Three: Get Prepared Spiritually

One of the core foundations of fasting and prayer is confession of sin. Unconfessed sin hinders your prayers. Here are some suggestions as to how you might be able to prepare your heart:

  • Ask the Lord to fill you with His Spirit and surround you with His presence.
  • Make a list of your sins. Be specific. Ask the Lord to reveal things to you.
  • Confess each sin to the Lord and embrace forgiveness. Examine any unforgiveness in your life. (1 John 1:9)
  • Spend some time pondering who God is. Meditate on His love, power, compassion, and faithfulness.
  • Be expectant. Trust that God will show up. Be excited about this opportunity to pursue Him.
  • Do not minimize the enemy. Satan is real and is looking to distract, disappoint, and destroy you. Be aware that nothing can separate you from the Love of God. It’s common for some people to feel depressed during a fast from food or technology. Don’t be surprised if fasting impacts your mood. If and when this happens, bring it to the Lord and share with someone so they can be praying for you.

Step Four: Get Prepared Physically

Fasting is both spiritual and physical. As I have already suggested, it might be wise to consult a physician first, especially if you are on medication or have a chronic health issue. Some people should never fast from food. Because you are making drastic changes, it is proper for you to consider a few things physically. It might be wise to make small changes prior to your fast to ease your transition into a food fast.

  • Eat smaller meals leading up to your fast.
  • Avoid high fat and sugary foods.
  • Cut back on caffeine.
  • Eat raw fruit and vegetables for a few days prior to your fast.

Step Five: Tips and Thoughts While You Fast

Once you have entered your fast and are seeking the Lord consider the following:

If you are doing a prolonged food fast the first 2-3 days are usually the hardest. However, as you continue the fast, you will likely gain more energy both physically and spiritually. If you notice hunger pains increasing, be sure to increase your liquid intake.

Step Six: Get a Schedule

To maximize the spiritual benefit of fasting, it is important to set side time to be alone with the Lord. Listen for His leading. The more you pursue Him in your fast, the more powerful your fast will be. Here are some various ideas to implement into your schedule.

The following are some juice and drink suggestions from Dr. Julio C. Ruibal - a nutritionist, pastor, and specialist in fasting a prayer.

Additional Thoughts on Juice Fasting:

Step Seven: Breaking Your Fast

Take it slow! Return to eating gradually. Do not eat solid foods immediately after your fast. Suddenly reintroducing food to your stomach and digestive tract will likely have negative, even dangerous, consequences. Try eating multiple small meals and snacks each day. A salad, baked potato, or steamed vegetables are a good starting place prior to jumping into your normal diet.

Step Eight: Breaking Your Fast

Prior to breaking your fast be sure to reflect in what God has shown you and done in you. Keep a record of those things that God revealed to you.

What if you fail your fast commitment?

First, bring it to the Lord. Confess that this was beyond your reach and that you are longing for more of Him. Second, do not beat yourself up. The enemy would love to guilt and shame you and make you feel like a failure. Resist believing these lies. The Lord is celebrating the steps made during the fast. He is excited that you are wanting more of Him. Finally, try again. In trying again, it might be wise to share with someone that you are fasting. They can encourage you along the way.

Appendix A

Additional Fasting and Prayer Resources

A Hunger for God: Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer
by John Piper
Circle Maker
by Mark Batterson
Fasting: Opening the door to a deeper, more intimate, more powerful relationship with God
by Jentezen Franklin
Fasting: The Ancient Practices
by Scot McKnight and Phyllis Tickle
The Daniel Fast: Feed Your Soul, Strengthen Your Spirit, and Renew Your Body
by Susan Gregory
Fasting: Spiritual Freedom Beyond Our Appetites
by Lynne M. Baab
BodyPrayer: The Posture of Intimacy with God
by Doug Pagitt
Praying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God
by Sybil Macbeth
Too Busy Not To Pray
by Bill Hybels
Celebration of Discipline
by Richard Foster
Fasting For Spiritual Breakthrough
by Elmer Towns

Appendix B

There are several types of fasting. The one you choose is between you and God. He will honor whatever you choose. Below are various options for fasting.

Appendix C

Scripture References on Fasting:

Isaiah 58:3-8
Matthew 6:16-18
Matthew 9:14-15
Luke 18:9-141
Samuel 1:6-8, 17-18
Nehemiah 1:4
Daniel 9:3,20
Joel 2:12
Luke 2:37
Acts 10:30
Acts 13:2

Scripture References on Corporate Fasting:

1 Samuel 7:5-6
Ezra 8:21-23
Nehemiah 9:1-3
Joel 2:15-16
Jonah 3:5-10
Acts 27:33-37

Scripture References on the Heart of Fasting:

Isaiah 58
Jeremiah 14:1
1 Corinthians 8:8