Tag Archives: fasting

Spiritually Healthy Habits: Fasting

spirit health by Stuart Miles

image courtesy of Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net

“I just can’t fast from food!” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this—and before last year, it was all coming from my own mouth! So I tried to fast from other things: Internet, Facebook, television, hockey, gossip, judging others…you name it, when my church (or some other church) did a fast, I was all over it. However, I never felt spiritually better afterward…I always just felt like it was 21 days without television or hockey or whatever. And I couldn’t wait to get back to whatever I fasted from. Then last summer, I decided to do a real fast—from food. So I did a Daniel Fast, a modified fast that allows you to have certain foods but give up anything that is considered “choice food” (Daniel 10:2-3).  Quite honestly, it meant a lot of cooking and discipline on my part, but I completed it—and loved it.

Fasting is a great spiritually healthy habit to practice for those who are ready to try it. Everyone knows that fasting is about denying yourself, but here are three other things that fasting is about:

  • Fasting is about God. Because the definition of fasting talks about denying ourselves, we may think fasting is about us! But it’s not—fasting is about the Lord. We don’t fast so that we can say, “Hey, look at me! I’m so spiritual!” We fast so that God can say, “Hey, look at Me!” And for once, we can hear Him clearly without the distractions that crowd out His voice. Some pray every time they feel a hunger pang; others spend extra time in prayer. For me, it is a combination of both while really designating time to hear the Lord. I try to make my fast about God—how He can increase in my life, how to be more like Christ, how to decrease myself. I don’t focus on the lack of food—but instead on every Word that comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).
  • Fasting is about FOOD. The very definition of fasting means to abstain from food. That’s the real issue with why people don’t fast these days, isn’t it? Because food is everything to us—especially to those of us in first world countries. We fight about food, we watch TV shows about food, and 50% of commercials are about food. Food is an important commodity for all of us, which makes it extremely difficult to give up—even in small portions. And yet at the same time, it is one of the things we waste the most. But to follow God, He asks us to surrender those things that are most important to us—and that includes food. And while it is not wrong to fast from news or gossip or judging others, Jesus set the example for us with fasting: He went without all of those things AND food.
  • Fasting is about self-control. Another excuse I hear about fasting is people say they just don’t “have the discipline to fast.” This simply means they lack motivation to just do it! Once during a church-wide fast, a friend told me that he was fasting from breakfast until midnight every day, but noted he would just stay up until midnight every day so that he could eat. He admitted this was defeating the purpose of the fast, but he couldn’t exercise the self-control to go to bed hungry. I know how hard this is! But Galatians 5:23 lists one of the fruits of the Spirit as self-control, and the verses following that note that we are to crucify the desires of the flesh. These desires include more than just lust and envy, but greed for everything—including food. How much self-control do you have when it comes to food?

Fasting from food is an important spiritual discipline that allows us to decrease so that God can increase in our lives. To be spiritually healthy people, we should fast as an act of self-control and worship that allows God to speak into our lives and make us more like Christ. I challenge you to try fasting from food—and watch your spiritual health soar!

You can read my past series on fasting here, here, here, and here.

Fast Furiously: A Few Good Resources

I had such an incredible experience fasting that I want to provide some resources for anyone who is even remotely considering a fast. After the amazing intimacy I experienced with God during this fast, I plan to fast at least three times per year to bring my heart in line with God and to hear clearly from Him.  I cannot stress to you how much God will bless you for surrendering to Him (instead of King Stomach!).

  • The Ultimate Daniel Fast by Kristen Feola. In August when I was praying about starting my business, this book popped up in my Kindle feed and I purchased it on a God-nudge. It is probably the best resource I can recommend to anyone wanting to fast, especially those who are trying to fast for the first time (as I was). Kristen’s story behind writing this book is a great example of how God can change your life through fasting! This book is not only an excellent resource about the Biblical basis behind fasting, it provides you with devotions during your 21-day Daniel Fast and incredible recipes and food plans for your fast. Honestly, I am still making some of Kristen’s recipes because they really are that good—in fact, people have requested that I make date honey so much, I’m thinking about starting it as a side business! 🙂 Kristen also has a website with tons of great information—including a blog, recipes, and videos all about the Daniel Fast. So if you are thinking of trying a fast, I recommend you pick up this book and visit her website.
  • Fasting by Jentezen Franklin. This book is about unlocking the power of Biblical fasting and how it can transform your life. My mom started reading this book as we were on our Daniel Fast, and I borrowed it from her last weekend because she had raved so much about it. It is an easy read and a fabulous book for anyone who has not yet decided to fast. It will give you good insight about the Biblical foundations for fasting as well as what to expect physically, mentally, and spiritually. Jentezen’s church in Georgia participates in a 21-day fast each year, so his website has a section specifically dedicated to fasting. You can check it out (and download a free magazine specifically about fasting) here.
  • The Bible. Saving the best for last! The Bible is always going to be your go-to source for information about fasting. There are several passages about fasting in the Bible, the most often quoted being Isaiah 58, which talks about the heart behind fasting and what the Lord requires of us. Some other notable Biblical texts about fasting: 2 Chronicles 20:3—Jehoshaphat proclaims a fast throughout Judah to seek God for fear of the armies of Ammon and Moab; Ezra 8:21-23—Ezra calls a fast to seek God’s protection for those leaving Babylon for Israel; and Acts 14:23—Paul and Barnabas appoint elders in the churches, having prayed with fasting. There are many, many more, including Jesus’ own fasting experience recorded in two of the gospels. Read these and others in several translations and allow God to speak directly to you. You also can search the Internet for information about fasting in the Bible; lots of people have given helpful information about the spiritual and physical benefits of fasting.

I hope these resources help you as you are praying about when (not if) you fast!