Most of us have a vague idea about what fasting is. We think it’s a religious thing to do, and that we probably should be doing it. But exactly why and how to fast is something we don’t have a firm handle on. Fasting, in the religious sense, is not merely abstaining from food. People can choose not to eat for a variety of reasons, such as dieting, but this is not fasting. “Fasting is abstaining from anything (in terms of the influence on the body) so that your spirit man can dominate and therefore make you more sensitive to God.”
Fasting involves prayer, repentance, and searching one’s heart for God’s will. Fasting is used to draw closer to God and to focus on Him. It brings us into a close mental and physical relationship with God. It is about seeking His direction.
Fasting “does NOT change God; fasting changes YOU!”
A Proclaimed Fast
40 Days for Life is a proclaimed fast rather than a personal fast. “A proclaimed fast is for the purpose of bringing believers into a place of hearing from God. The main reason a proclaimed fast brings results is that it causes people’s minds to go in one direction - toward God. Once their attention is focused on Him, His presence is manifested (2 Chron 20:3-5). A proclaimed fast is valuable and effective because it causes unity and singleness of purpose.”
Biblical Examples of Fasting
The only command found in the Bible to fast is on the Day of Atonement (Lev 23:26-32); however, there are many examples of fasting recorded in the Bible, which demonstrate to us that God’s people should fast. The most familiar fast may be the time Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness and, afterward, was tempted by Satan (Matt 4:1-3; Luke 4:2). There are only two other times in the Bible where there was a 40 day fast. Moses fasted 40 days on Mount Horeb before he was given the Ten Commandments (Exo. 34:28-29). Elijah fasted for 40 days during a trip from the wilderness to Mount Horeb (1 Kings 19:8).
Christ spoke about fasting to His disciples (Luke 5:33-35), but He did not specify why, when, how often, or how long we should fast. Jesus states that fasting is between us and God (Matthew 6:16-18). Our outward appearance should not make people aware that we are fasting.
If we study examples of fasting, we can learn why people in the Bible fasted. After the Israelites were defeated by the men of Ai (Josh 7:6), at a time of serious illness, when David sought forgiveness for his sins (2 Sam 12:13-22), and when desperately seeking God’s help, as Jehoshaphat and the nation of Israel did (2 Chronicles 20:3-4).
Usually we fast because we have a problem and are seeking a solution from God. Fasting puts us in a position to hear from God. “But those who wait for the Lord (who expect and hope in Him) shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift wings and mount up (close to God) as eagles (mount up to the sun); they shall run and not be weary, they walk and not faint or become tired” (Isa 40:31).
When you wait on God, you are positioning yourself to hear Him; you get His strength.
Fasting is something you prepare for physically, mentally and spiritually. It is solemn and shows reverence toward God. "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” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
If we humble ourselves through fasting, prayer, and repentance, God will hear us.
During the 40 Days for Life campaign, we collectively set all matters aside and turn our focus toward God, who can change the hearts and minds of the abortionists and their staff, the political leaders and Supreme Court justices of our land, and put an end to abortion.
Excerpts taken from:
"Biblical Principles for Effective Fasting" by Andrew Wafula Wapakala
How to Fast
-- Length of Fast (one meal, one day, one day a week ...)
-- Type of Fast (water only, water and juice, water and bread, smaller meals ...)
-- Restrict Activities (watching television, limiting a favorite sport or hobby ...)
It is important to make these commitments in advance because it will help you maintain your fast. Satan also knows of your commitment, and he wants you to break it (Gal 5:16-17).
Preparing to Fast
We need to prepare ourselves both spiritually and physically for a fast. In Scripture, God has always had His people repent of their sins before He heard their prayers. To spiritually prepare to fast:
-- Ask God to reveal your sins.
-- Confess your sins, repent, and accept forgiveness. (1 John 1:8-9, Ps 69:10)
-- Claim victory over sin. (1 Cor 10:13, 1 John 5:4-6)
-- Ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit. (Eph 5:18, 1 John 5:14-15)
-- Surrender your life to Christ. Refuse to obey your worldly nature. (Rom 12:1-2)
Fasting does require some precautions. It is important to consult your physician before undergoing a fast, especially if you are taking prescription medications. If you fast more than one day, ready your mind and body to more easily focus on prayer rather than the absence of food. To physically prepare to fast:
-- Eat smaller meals before starting a fast. Avoid high-fat, high-sugar foods.
-- Eat raw fruit and vegetables for two days before starting a fast.
-- Expect some physical discomforts, such as headaches from caffeine withdrawal.
-- Expect some mental discomforts, such as crankiness.
Pray when Fasting
“Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). During the time of fasting, set aside several times during the day to pray. Since you are not eating, meal times may be a particularly good time to choose to pray. It is a set time, and it will keep you from thinking about food.
Pray in faith because God will answer our prayers. “Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering” (James 1:6, Matt 7:7).
When fasting, put yourself on a schedule:
-- Begin your day in praise and worship.
-- Read and meditate on God’s Word.
-- Invite the Holy Spirit to work in you. (Phil 2:13)
Excerpts taken from:
“7 Basic Steps to Successful Fasting & Prayer” by Bill Bright