Gary Linton Updated January 21st, Fasting is the act of willingly abstaining from food, drink, or other things. Fasting should not be ritualistic and should be directed toward a specific purpose. An absolute fast is normally defined as abstinence from all food and liquid for a defined period, usually 24 hours or several days. Other fasts may be only partially restrictive, limiting particular foods or substances. The fast may also be intermittent in nature.
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Fasting in this age of the absent Bridegroom is in expectation of His return. Come out to meet him. The time is now. We must prepare ourselves adequately so that the fast can honor God and fulfill its purpose.
The following is a general overview of biblical precedent and guidelines for wise fasting to help and encourage you. The practice of fasting in Scripture usually includes, but is not limited to, abstinence from food Dan. Abstaining from all food for extended periods of time is biblical, but was rare and unusual in Scripture Ex. The same standard applies to an absolute fast Esther fast—no food or water for three days of any duration Est. The maximum length of an adult fast that is biblically supported is forty days without food for a male adult in good health, and three days without water.
The Bible does not speak of children engaging in fasting food. Fasting Is Always Voluntary Though spiritual leaders may invite others to join in corporate fasting with a specific goal in mind and for a specific time, fasting can never be forced or made compulsory. The level at which a person engages in fasting particularly food should be determined according to age and with regard to any physical limitations. Those with a known or suspected physical disability or illness, or those with any history of an eating disorder, should never fast, except in consultation with, and under the supervision of, a qualified doctor.
Pregnant or nursing mothers should not fast food or drink as it could negatively affect the health and development of their baby and their own personal health. Minors who desire to fast are encouraged to consider non-food abstentions, such as TV, movies, Internet surfing, video games, and other entertainment. Fasting Regularly Participation in regular fasting as a lifestyle necessitates a healthy lifestyle on days when food is not being fasted, and should include exercise and a proper diet.
When undertaken with this type of commitment, a fasted lifestyle is sustainable on a long-term basis, just as it was for Daniel and his friends Dan. The Benefits of Fasting While the physical impact of fasting is real, the spiritual benefits of fasting are undeniable.
Any fast undertaken must be done with spiritual wholeheartedness and wisdom when dealing with our physical body; we must count the cost honestly and honor the temple of the Holy Spirit. Whether we are partaking or abstaining, everything should be for the glory of God.
Physically Preparing for a Fast That Extends More Than Two Days Prepare your body for the fast and prevent constipation during and after the fast by eating certain preventative foods at least two days beforehand even longer before an extended fast , such as: fresh fruit and raw vegetables, fruit or vegetable juices, oatmeal, etc. Eat smaller meals a few days prior to the fast.
Avoid high-fat and sugary foods before the fast. Make your commitment and determine the length. You can fast in many different ways. Pray, and ask God what He will give you faith for in terms of the duration of the fast. A Daniel fast, with vegetables and water, is good for those carrying a heavy workload.
A fruit or vegetable juice fast allows you to enter into fasting but still gives enough energy to function. Many people have done a day juice fast.
If you have sugar sensitivities or problems e. A water-only fast has been undertaken by many people. We would not encourage this without strong medical supervision, particularly in the case of young people. Depending on your weight and metabolism, you can go forty days on water alone. A total fast is without food or water all liquids. Never go beyond three days without water. Discuss your plans with your doctor, church leaders, and spouse or parents.
Drinking at least half of your body weight in ounces of water per day is a good rule of thumb whether you are fasting or not. It is wise to abstain from strong stimulants such as caffeinated and sugary drinks during a fast, including the artificial sweeteners found in diet drinks.
Also, avoid soy protein drinks, which have been known to cause health problems during a fast. If you are on a juice fast, drink raw fruit juices such as apple, grape, and pineapple, which are excellent sources of necessary natural sugar to stabilize blood sugar and keep energy levels up. Orange and grapefruit juice are also good, but they are not recommended for arthritis or allergy sufferers.
Monitor juice acidity carefully as it can cause canker sores mouth ulcers. Raw vegetable juices such as carrot, celery, beet, or green vegetable combinations are excellent as well. Fresh fruit and vegetable juices can be made in a juice extractor or purchased ready-made be sure to buy juices without any added sugars. Some of the benefits of drinking raw juice versus bottled are that it does not stimulate digestion hunger and it maintains all of its enzymes and nutritional value.
Expect some physical discomforts because of the detoxification process, especially on the second day. You may have fleeting hunger pains or dizziness. Withdrawal from caffeine and sugar may cause headaches, but it is a part of the detoxification process.
Physical annoyances may also include weariness, tiredness, nausea, and sleepiness. During a fast, four major areas of the body are going through a detoxification process. This should be done early during the fast and then intermittently throughout the rest of the fast. The body begins detoxifying during a fast, depositing the toxins into the intestines. If you do not take a laxative or an enema, the toxins can hurt your intestines or reabsorb into your bloodstream, making you feel nauseous.
The kidneys: Drinking fruit juices, vegetable juices, broth, or just plenty of water will remove many toxins via the kidneys. The lungs: If strength permits, walk half an hour during the day to help cleanse the lungs. Also do some deep breathing throughout the day by inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth. The skin: Since one-third of the waste products eliminated during a fast are removed via the skin, adequate bathing is essential.
Use a natural bristle body brush or loofah sponge on your skin prior to bathing, to help cleanse the skin. Seek medical advice before the fast, especially if you have any existing medical concerns or conditions. If you are under 18 years of age, discuss your desire to fast with your parents. Spiritual covering, submission, and unity are important factors when fasting. Discuss your plans with your church leaders. Remember, fasting is an attitude of the heart!
Ask them if they would consider fasting with you. Fast and pray in order to humble yourself and purify your worship.
Do the fast with someone else. Two are better than one! We encourage parents and kids to consider fasting together. Several generations fasting together has a powerful impact. Have a clear target as your prayer focus.
Without a vision a clear, prophetic prayer goal , the people perish. Write down your vision, so you can run with it Hab. Take time to pray and read the Word. This may seem obvious, but busyness and distractions can keep you from devotions.
Reading books with testimonies of victories gained through fasting will encourage you, too. Daniel prepared himself to receive revelation through fasting Dan. There is a fasting reward Mt. Prepare for opposition. On the day of your fast you can bet that donuts will be at the office or in class. Your spouse or your mom will suddenly be inspired to cook your favorite meals. Press through. Many times you may feel more tension build at home. Satan tempted Jesus on the fast, and we must expect the same.
Discouragement may come in like a flood, but recognize the source and take your stand on the victory of Christ. Even though you may fail several times, God always extends grace. Feel free to rest a lot and continue to exercise with supervision.
Breakthroughs often come after a fast, not during it. Do not listen to the lie that nothing is happening. It is our conviction that every fast done in faith will be rewarded.
At this point you will need to exercise watchful self-control. Break your fast on a meal that is light and easy to digest i. When breaking a fast of ten days or more, the break-in period should be extended one day for every four days of fasting. A fast of three days or more should never be broken by eating a normal meal including animal proteins, bread, sugar, dairy, and processed foods because these heavy foods put a severe strain and shock on the digestive organs which have been resting throughout the fast.
Eating too heavily after a fast can produce serious discomfort stomach cramps, nausea, and weakness and can nullify the physical benefits of fasting; it can also cause serious irreversible complications or even death. After breaking an extended fast, continue drinking fruit or vegetable juices because the stomach is continuing to detoxify.
During any fast exceeding two days, your stomach will shrink. Do not over-expand it again by overeating. If you have been prone to eating too heavily, guard against going back to this habit.
If you train yourself to eat more lightly, your stomach will adjust itself accordingly.
The Why and How of Fasting
Why would the Bible tell us to go without food for a time? What is the benefit? And is it optional for Christians, or should it be a normal part of our walk? Join in as you are led! Dieting or Fasting? So how do we fast in our food-obsessed culture?
Straight Talk about Fasting
This list is very brief. For more information you can get my e-book by clicking on Prayer A to Z. Most importantly, your fast must be a fast that God chooses. If it is a fast that God chooses then He will lead you and give you the right motives. You will be fasting for Him and not for any selfish reason Is. Pray about your fast and set objectives.