The Importance of Fasting
Today you may be asking yourself, “Does it take all of this? Why am I doing this? Surely, God is not requiring this of me.”
These are reasonable questions to ask yourself as you are coming to the end of your first day of the 21-Day Fast. The answer to your questions is, “no.” Fasting is not required for salvation. The finished work of Jesus has more than adequately covered our sins. It is by grace alone, through faith and not works that we are saved.
So, why then do we fast?
Fasting is one of several spiritual disciplines (meditation, prayer, study, worship, service, etc.) that we engage in as believers for the purpose of spiritual development. In other words, as seen in scripture, we are challenged to grow in Christ. As we develop physically and as we age from infancy into adulthood, likewise, we also develop spiritually as we grow and are strengthened in our Christian walk. We have no greater example of the importance of fasting than in the life of Christ himself (see Matthew 4:2).
Jesus fasted before He began his public ministry (see Luke 4:1-2). How can we do less when we are called to be the light of the world and salt of the earth? Surely, we too need the benefits of
fasting to carry out our God-given purpose.
Jesus also made clear the importance of fasting to His disciples once He, the bridegroom, was gone (see Mark 2: 19-20). As long as Christ was present with the disciples, He did not require them to fast, but like those disciples of John the Baptist, they were expected to fast once he was no longer with them in the flesh.
Still, on another occasion, he pointed out that some difficult things could only be accomplished through prayer and fasting (see Mark 9:29). While some translations omit the word “fasting” in this text, scripture shows us in both the Old and New Testaments the power of fasting for both spiritual and physical breakthroughs.
So, as we begin our journey, remember you are in good company! Jesus modeled fasting for us. It is not required but is well worth the sacrifice!
Expect greater anointing for your ministry, healing in your body, movement in things that have been tied up or held back and clarity in decisions you have to make. These are but a few examples of fasting outcomes in scripture. Remember, EXPECT GREAT THINGS!!!
Consecration During Fasting
As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God. (Psalm 42:1)
Fasting is more than doing without food or changing your diet!
The Bible teaches us that fasting should not be a religious activity void of real meaning or a true connection to God. It is a spiritual discipline, like others (i.e. prayer, meditation, scripture reading, etc.), which requires more than the act of abstaining from food. It is a beautiful opportunity to get closer to God and nurture your spiritual growth.
In order to get the most of your 21-day journey of fasting and praying, you should plan to consecrate during the fast.
Consecration simply implies that during our fast we are not enthralled in our usual distractions – those things that fill our lives with noise – noise that keeps us from hearing God.
The challenge is to avoid or greatly reduce our
social activities such as, watching television, going to the movies, engaging on social media, talking on the telephone and attending events for social purposes, and other non-essential activities that will take us away from our time of prayer and meditation while fasting.
My favorite illustration of how fasting connects us to God requires envisioning the old antenna on TVs and radios. The purpose was to adjust the antenna just right so that you could get the right frequency for the best reception. Consecration during fasting is adjusting your spiritual antenna so that you hear God more clearly and connect with Him for direction, clarity, a greater sense of peace, and a better understanding of what the Holy Spirit is doing in your life. Basically, we just want to spend time in His presence.
During the 21 days of fasting and praying, we should make a real attempt to quiet our lives as much as possible.
You owe it to yourself to make the most of your sacrifice. You’ll be glad you did!
Overcoming the Physical Challenges of Fasting
The benefits of fasting far outweigh its challenges. Not only will we benefit physically by taking a break from processed foods and our traditional rich diets during the holidays, but the physical benefits of fasting are just the beginning. We fast primarily because of spiritual benefits, which are priceless! The sacrifice is well worth the results because God is faithful to hear our cry!
The fewer the number of calories you take in, the more you will experience physical challenges while fasting. For example, if you are on the Daniel Fast, you are eating fruits and vegetables, lentils, grains etc. and you are getting calories. However, because of the abstinence from meat, sugar, bread, and other items, you will experience some withdrawal discomfort.
This is also true for those on the one-meal fasts (with soup or a meal) but may be more of a challenge because caloric intake has been drastically reduced.
The first three days of the fast are probably the most difficult. You will probably experience headaches, hunger, and perhaps even dry mouth. While these symptoms usually subside after the first few days, there are a few things I can suggest you do to limit their severity:
Take a mild laxative at the beginning of your fast
Take an enema or mild laxative every 5-7 days
Abstain from eating sugar and simple carbohydrates
Plan to drink plenty (about 3 quarts) of water daily
Don’t engage in strenuous exercise or physical activity
Get plenty of rest.
Let me explain... One way to limit headaches during your fast is to take a mild laxative or enema before you begin. Once you begin the fast, I would suggest an enema every 5-7 days, if needed. This will reduce the toxins and help in the physiological changes or adjustments we experience with fasting. Another thing you will experience is withdrawal from sugar and carbohydrates. These effects usually consist of strong cravings, strong hunger pains and even some sluggishness. The best way to reduce these symptoms is to abstain from eating sugar and simple carbohydrates on your fast. However, drinking lots of water will help consider- ably. Again, plan to drink plenty of water daily; about 3 quarts. As the fast progresses, remember prolonged fasts have a greater physical impact on your energy level. So, don’t plan to workout at the gym or engage in other strenuous physical exercise until after the fast. You will also need to get plenty of rest to maintain your strength as the fast progresses. This is particularly true if you are on the soup or one meal fast because of the drastic reduction of caloric intake. Lastly, the physical benefits of fasting are numerous, such as heart health and diabetes prevention, weight loss, detoxification and cleansing, mental health, freedom from addictions and many more (http://www.nbcnews.com, How Does Fasting Affect the Human Body?). If you are under medical care and/or are taking medications, you should consult your physician before fasting. While the physical challenges of fasting are real, remember, you are not alone! The Lord is with you!!! Also, there are hundreds of thousands of Christians fasting at the beginning of the year! And, I am with you! Just take it one day at a time! You will make it! You can do this! You will be glad you did!!!
Setting A Time and Place for Prayer
“My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” (Psalm 5:3)
Fasting is a powerful spiritual discipline! When coupled with prayer, it is even more powerful! Without prayer, fasting can be reduced to simply going without food. It is, therefore, imperative to not only pray when you can throughout the day, but also to set a time and place to pray daily!
Early in the morning is preferable to many since it is at the beginning of the day and will set the tone for the rest of the day. Also, morning prayer is preferable because of its significance in scripture. There are many awesome encounters with God and his people that took place “early in the morning.” Nonetheless, for some, setting a time to pray in the evening is best because of their schedules. Whichever time you choose, be sure to set a time and place to pray!
To help with focusing during your prayer time, you can use a recording of your favorite gospel song
or hymn. You can focus on a scripture text and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you from a Bible verse, or, you can simply sit in a quiet place of praise and worship while keeping your ears keen to hear God’s voice.
You may include a daily scripture, meditation and song during your prayer and devotion time. Also, during your time in prayer and meditation, you should have your fasting journal with you so that you can refer to your prayer list. You can call out your requests to God or even wave them before the Lord during your prayer time.
Remember, prayer is communication with God, which means you expect that God will speak with you during your time of prayer and meditation. So, no matter the amount of time you set aside for prayer, be sure to allow some of that time to just rest in the presence of the Lord. Fasting heightens your sensitivity to spiritual things, so expect to experience God in very meaningful ways.
Lastly, approach your prayer time with a spirit of expectancy. EXPECT GREAT THINGS!!!
Before starting your fast, you should speak to your doctor. You must not rely on the information in this manual as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter, you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.