The Practices of Jesus:
The Practice of Fasting
Fasting is probably the most misunderstood and maligned of the practices, and so you may have lots of confusion and zero experience with this practice. That’s OK! That can begin to change today!
Fasting is a sacred practice with a specific purpose and it can be practised for any and all of the following reasons:
- Seeking answers to needs,
- Pursuing guidance in times of decision,
- asking for healing where there is sickness,
- asking for hope where there are threats
- seeking to strengthen our will
- learn dependence on God for all our needs.
A short survey of the scriptures shows people practising fasting for a number of purposes. God’s people fasted:
- to sharpen their prayer life or focus their intercession (Ezra 8:23)
- to seek clarity on God’s will (Judges 20)
- for protection and deliverance (Esther 4:16)
- as an expression of repentance and commitment to the Lord (Joel 2:12),
- to break our self-absorption to act for others (Isaiah 58:6-7)
- or simply to gain power over our flesh, demonstrating that seeking God (the bread of Heaven- John 6:51) is more important than earthly bread.
Christian fasting, is abstaining from a regular part of your life (normally food) for a spiritual purpose – fasting as a Jesus follower has a spiritual purpose.
So, what is your purpose for fasting?
Before you begin the practice with your family and support group, listen to this sermon to understand more about why this practice is so important and discover what it can do in your life.
- Know why you are fasting: what is the spiritual purpose behind the practice? (ie. to deny myself so I can better follow Christ, to stir up new appetites for God; to grow in gratitude and break my entitlement mentality; to hear and receive guidance from the Lord; to pray for a specific person or thing; for a breakthrough in my spiritual life or in spiritual warfare; to intensify a spiritual desire by linking it to a physical one, to learn greater dependence on God for my needs).
- Do not do a food fast if you are sick, pregnant, have diabetes, cancer, low blood pressure. Instead do a technology fast, or fast from shopping, sports watching or even coffee (for the bravest among us!)
- Remember – for most people without co-morbidities, fasting is actually healthy. Being hungry doesn’t mean you are harming yourself. Our bodies kick in other processes to draw energy from our reserves. This is a process with health benefits.
- Stay Hydrated. When we fast we tend drink less because we are not eating. Remember to drink lots!
- Start small, work up to a longer fast.
- Let your hunger pangs be physical cues to your spiritual purpose. (For example, intercede for the person every time you feel hunger, or let your thoughts of food fill you with thoughts of God, actively trust his promise to meet your needs even the needs you have for strength and energy this day).
- Remember Jesus promises our heavenly Father will reward those who fast with proper motive. “When you fast, do not make it obvious…your heavenly Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:18).
If you are new to fasting begin here:
- Once this week, fast from breakfast and lunch.
- Begin your fast after supper the night before and fast until supper the next day that way you miss two meals rather than one.
- When you feel hungry go to God with your spiritual purpose.
- Be extra attune to what God might be saying to you during this time.
- Some of our staff do this on Wednesdays, and we meet to pray over lunch. Consider joining in that fast.
If you are ready to take the next step:
- Once a month fast for an entire day, all three meals, and link the fast with another practice, such as prayer or service.
- Fasting has a supercharging effect on the other practices.
- Co-ordinate your fast with a spouse of spiritual companion, then break-fast together over a meal in celebration & fellowship (when COVID protocols allow)
During Lent (the 40 days before Easter Feb 17 – Apr 3) consider a prolonged non-food fast, such as from Social Media, or Television. Repurpose this time you save for to invest in the spiritual practices.