Fasting is the most powerful spiritual discipline of all the Christian disciplines. Through fasting and prayer, the Holy Spirit can transform your life. However, fasting is one of the most neglected spiritual commands.
What does it mean to fast?
Two ways we will define fasting:
- Biblical fasting is most commonly the sacrificial setting aside of physical food to focus on spiritual hunger, namely, deeper dependence on God.
- Not always food. Biblical fasting always has to do with eliminating distractions for a spiritual purpose. These distractions can be physical, mental, or emotional.
Fasting is removing from our lives things that will remind us of our dependence on God (hunger for food) or removing anything that keeps us from a deeper dependence on God (social distractions).
So when we talk about fasting it’s not only or always removing food. It can be removing anything your body needs or anything that is a distraction. We want you to understand that not everyone will fast from food. For medical, health, or other reasons some of us will participate by removing a meal from the day but others will participate by removing a distraction from their day.
What type of fasting can you do?
There is no “formula fast” that was the only “right” way. Fasting is about the condition of the heart. 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting is designed to hit the reset button of our soul and renews us from the inside out. It always involves sacrifice and removal but that looks different for everyone.
Four Types of Fasts -
Two that we are not necessarily expecting people to do.
- Complete Fast- In this type of fast, you drink only liquids, typically water with light juices as an option. We are not expecting people to do a complete fast for 21 days.
- Selective 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. This could be an option.
Two types of fasts that we are recommending:
- Partial Fast- This fast is simply removing one meal a day from your diet to focus on prayer and dependency on God. This might be the best option. You can do this in several ways but the most common way is to fast from dinner to lunch with 16-18 hours between meals. You skip breakfast and don’t eat lunch until 16-18 hours since you finished dinner. The idea is to skip breakfast and have an extended quiet time with God and as you hunger before lunch you are reminded of your dependence on God.
- There's an app that helps track your time: Zero- Fasting Tracker
- 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 during the 16-18 hour partial fast. Only you may choose to fast from lunch to breakfast, not using your phone in the afternoons or evenings.
- Maybe you fast from Netflix in the evenings and choose to read your Bible before going to bed or a devotional or Christian book.
What about students?
We encourage you to include the kids at an age-appropriate level. Most high school students can participate at an adult level. But some and especially Middle School students might need to adjust. Students can (and need to) practice the Soul Fast by fasting from their devices and phones, game consoles, Fortnite, social media, etc. If they were to fast from these for 16-18 hours a day it could not only change their life, attitude, sleep pattern, self-esteem among many other things, it also demonstrates for them the need to focus on God.
What about kids?
We have a Prayer Guide with ideas and helps especially for children. They too can do the Soul Fast and participate by fasting from their devices and phones, game consoles, Fortnite, social media, etc. Again, if they were to fast from these for 16-18 hours a day for 21 days it could change their whole attitude and behavior, and help them realize there need to focus on God.
Why you should fast?
- Fasting was an expected discipline in both the Old and New Testament eras. For example, Moses fasted at least two recorded forty-day periods. Jesus fasted 40 days and reminded His followers to fast, “when you fast,” not if you fast.
- Fasting and prayer can restore the loss of the “first love” for your Lord and result in a more intimate relationship with Christ.
- Fasting is a biblical way to truly humble yourself in the sight of God (Psalm 35:13; Ezra 8:21). King David said, “I humble myself through fasting.”
- Fasting enables the Holy Spirit to reveal you’re true spiritual condition, resulting in brokenness, repentance, and a transformed life.
- The Holy Spirit will quicken the Word of God in your heart and His truth will become more meaningful to you!
- Fasting can transform your prayer life into a richer and more personal experience.
- Fasting can result in a dynamic personal revival in your own life—and make you a channel of revival to others.
- Fasting and prayer are the only disciplines that fulfill the requirements of 2 Chronicles 7:14: “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.”
How should you prepare to pray and fast?
- Examine your heart and detect any unconfessed sin. Scripture records that God always requires His people to repent of their sins before He will hear and answer their prayers. King David said in Psalm 66:16-20: “Come and hear, all of you who reverence the Lord, and I will tell you what he did for me: For I cried to him for help, with praises ready on my tongue. He would not have listened if I had not confessed my sins. But he listened! He heard my prayer! He paid attention to it! Blessed be God who didn’t turn away when I was praying, and didn’t refuse me his kindness and love.”
- Meditate on the attributes of God, His love, sovereignty, power, wisdom, faithfulness, grace, compassion, and others (Psalm 48:9,10; 103:1-8, 11-13).
- Do not underestimate spiritual opposition. Satan sometimes intensifies the natural battle between body and spirit (Galatians 5:16,17).
- Determine now to stick to your commitment. It will be refining and pruning to shape us into the image of Christ, to make us more fruitful, and to prepare us for what God is doing in our world.
Timing of a Fast
At Valley View, we encourage you to fast with us for 21 days as part of our 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting, a season of focused prayer as a church family. You may also choose to fast at other times during the year for your own spiritual development. It’s very typical to fast a single meal, a whole day, or three days or more. The timing of your fast is not as important as the strength of your focus on God as you fast.