We are on the home stretch - the last five days of our 21-day fasting journey! Praise the Lord! As we prepare to end this year’s glorious time of fasting, it is a good time to think about how to maintain a habit of fasting and prayer throughout the year. Truth is, for all of the magnificent examples of fasting and their wondrous results, there is no scripture on fasting on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis. However, many church fathers and mothers have found and chronicled the benefits of regular weekly or monthly fasting. Those of us who have been exposed to, or are presently a part of, ministries that teach and support regular fasting are familiar with fasting one day a week or 3-day Esther fasts once a month. Yet, others participate in corporate fasts during Easter or other times specified by the church leadership throughout the year. If you do not have that support, planning a regular fast can be quite a challenge. So, you should pray about what God is impressing upon you.
One example of those who engage in weekly fasts is that they usually abstain from all food until a specific time of the day, 3pm, 4pm, or 6pm. Those who engage in monthly fasts, as mentioned, abstain from all food and sometimes water, for three days, which begins 6am on the first day and ends around 3pm on the third day. These regular fasts are another way to engage in a powerful spiritual discipline throughout the year. There is however, one thing that is important to consider.
It is so easy to use your regular fasting as a pillar of religiosity. This is not beneficial; in fact it can be very harmful. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for their religious perspectives on fasting and declared that they had no reward from God but had already had their reward in their boasting and pride in their religiosity. It is also easy to make the habit of fasting an empty exercise done in rote and without meaning. Regular fasting must be accompanied with the same passion as periodic prolonged fasting.
There must be a giving of self in an increased activity of prayer, devotion and time in the presence of the Lord during the fast. For example, on your lunch hour the day you fast, you can take that time to read scripture, pray or meditate; weekly or monthly fasts, abstaining from your regular social activities to focus on spiritual activities will keep your regular fasting from getting stale and lacking meaning in any real way.
Whatever you decide just know that fasting is a way to keep you above the fray of the demanding pressures and worries of life. It illumines the power of God an diminishes the weight of the cares of this world. Fasting gives fresh perspective and fresh enabling of the Holy Spirit.
I will commit to a habit of fasting and prayer this year. I want something that I have never had, so I must do something I have never done. My fasting and prayer will not be for others to see and give me praise, but to my God, who is faithful. I will live a life of consistent spiritual disciplines that will give me a closer walk with God and truly live life to its fullest.
Reduce physical activity if you are feeling a little weaker - this is dependent on the severity of the fast you have chosen. Just rest more and pace yourself.
Plan your habit of prayer and fasting for the year. Don’t worry about failing. Just don’t give up. Fasting and prayer is worth the fight.
Drink plenty of water and if you are one-meal or one-bowl of soup daily, you should probably taken an enema or light laxative if you have not had a bowel movement in more than 4 days.