Tips for Successful Fasting
Our Lord Jesus implied in several portions of Scripture that fasting is an exercise for each person in the church to participate in from time to time. Jesus didn’t say if you fast, but when you fast!
“When you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” Matthew 6:17-18 (NKJ)
Fasting is a spiritual discipline that causes one to disassociate him or herself from the natural desires of the flesh, and affords us an opportunity to focus our attention on seeking God’s direction for our lives, our loved ones, or our Church.
How to begin your fast
1. Set Your Objective
Why are you fasting? Ask the Holy Spirit to clarify His leading and objectives for your time of prayer and fasting. This will enable you to pray more specifically and strategically.
2. Make Your Commitment
Pray about the kind of fast you should undertake.
- How long will you fast: one meal, one day, five days, one week?
- The type of fast god wants you to undertake (water only, water and juices, “Daniel fast”- just vegetables, or fasting from some other fleshly desires such as, television, sports, chocolate, etc.)
- What physical or social activities you will restrict
- How much time each day you will devote to prayer and God’s Word
Making these commitments ahead of time will help you sustain your fast when physical temptations and life’s pressures tempt you to abandon it.
3. Prepare Yourself Spiritually
The very foundation of fasting and prayer is repentance. Unconfessed sin will hinder your prayers.
Psalm 66:18, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.” (NKJ)
Here are several things you can do to prepare your heart:
- Confess any sin that the Holy Spirit calls to your remembrance and accept God’s forgiveness (1 John 1:9)
- Seek forgiveness from all whom you have offended, and forgive all who have hurt you. (Matt. 11:25; Luke 1:4; 17:3-4)
- Surrender your life fully to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Master; refuse to obey your worldly nature (Romans 12:1-2)
- Begin your time of fasting and prayer with an expectant heart (Hebrews 11:6)
- Do not underestimate spiritual opposition. Satan sometimes intensifies the natural battle between body and spirit (Gal. 5:16-17)
4. If it is a Food Fast Prepare Yourself
Fasting requires reasonable precautions. Consult your physician first, especially if you take prescription medication or have a chronic ailment. Some persons should never fast without professional supervision.
- Prepare your body. Eat smaller meals before starting a fast. Avoid high-fat and sugary foods.
- Try tapering back on caffeine (coffee, cokes) prior to fasting to help alleviate caffeine withdrawal.
- Eat raw fruit and vegetables for two days before starting a fast.
While You Fast
- Limit your activity
- Exercise only moderately
- Rest as much as possible
- Prepare yourself for temporary mental discomforts, such as impatience, crankiness, and anxiety.
- Expect some physical discomforts, especially on the second day. You may have fleeting hunger pains and dizziness. Withdrawal from caffeine and sugar may cause headaches, Physical annoyances may also include weakness, tiredness, or sleeplessness.
5. End Your Fast Gradually
Begin eating gradually. Do not eat solid foods immediately after your fast. Suddenly reintroducing solid food to your stomach and digestive tract will likely have a negative effect. Try several smaller meals or snacks each day.
6. Put Yourself on a Schedule
For maximum spiritual benefit, set aside ample time to be alone with the Lord. Listen for His leading. The more time you spend with Him, the more meaningful your fast will be. Make scheduled times in the morning and evening that you will spend time with the Lord without any distractions. Try to make several “quiet times” in your daily schedule (these need not be long, maybe 2-3 minutes) to simply praise God and give thanks (Col. 3:15).