Fasting is the best way to get clarity of mind, hear God, weaken the flesh and strengthen one’s connection to God. Fasting doesn’t move God, it just puts us in a better position to receive from him.
Fasting is the best way to get clarity of mind, hear God, weaken the sinful nature and strengthen our connection to God. Fasting doesn’t move God, it just puts us in a better position to receive from him.
It’s clear in scripture that fasting wasn’t an option for the saints. Jesus said, “when you fast…” not “if” (Matthew 6:16-18). So it was a normal practice of the Hebrews and the saints of old.
Psalm 35:13-14 shows us the main reason why we fast: to humble our souls and this also weakens the flesh. Actually, fasting aside from spiritual reasons, has so many physical health benefits as well, but that’s not the focus of this teaching.
An admonition about fasting
I want to be clear: Fasting doesn’t move God, it just puts us in a better position to hear and receive from him. David fasted and laid on the ground all night for his sick son who he bore in an adulterous relationship with Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba, but God still killed the child as he promised (2 Samuel 12:15-18).
You can’t move God just because you missed a meal for him. Fasting isn’t for God, it’s for us. Much like bible study and prayer is for us. We need to do these things to stay in connection with God, but God doesn’t bless us simply because we read our bibles, prayed and fasted.
The arrogant Pharisees thought they were righteous simply because they fasted twice a week (Luke 18:12), but Jesus exposed how that meant nothing to God. Also, Jesus said to never fast to be seen of men, or you’ll get nothing from God (Matthew 6:16-18).
I know most people reading this are here to overcome some sin and aren’t concerned with what others think, but there are people who broadcast their fasting as a way to appear more holy. These people will get nothing but a few praises from men who think they’re righteous, and yet God is far from them. Certainly they won’t gain humility because they’re using the very practice to puff themselves up! What a waste of a fast.
Also, if there’s a corporate fast and someone from your fellowship doesn’t participate, it’s sinful to look down on that person as if they’re not being “spiritual.” No believer should disdain another for not fasting with the group. However, group fasting is powerful.
Most importantly, be led by the Spirit of God in a fast. If you feel like fasting, ask the Holy Spirit if you should and for how long. A Spirit led fast is the most empowering. Jesus was led to fast 40 days and nights and was only able to do so because of the Holy Spirit. After that, he was able to resist the great temptations of Satan (Matthew 4:1-11).
On the other hand, I’ve known people who’ve fasted weekly apart from the council of God and got nothing out of it but weight loss. If weight lost is your goal, fasting will definitely help, but if you want spiritual empowerment, be led by the Spirit. In this article the primary reasons for fasting are for:
- hearing God better
- casting out demons
- weakening the flesh
Now that we’ve got that understood, let’s talk about how to fast.
Go into your fast with the intent to hear God, and to be humbled. Know what your purpose for fasting is and have scriptures and teachings on your issue prepared. Remove distractions and try to get somewhere peaceful.
There are basically two kinds of fasts 1) no food, no water, and 2) no food, just water. We’re talking about doing the latter.
1. Ease into the fast
If this is the first time you’ve attempted to fast, or the first in a long time, to just abruptly stop eating one day will shock your body and make the fast more difficult. You may even break your fast suddenly and binge on something that isn’t healthy making you sick, and worse, you may be overcome with feelings of failure, so you need to ease into the fast.
If you’re eating meat and potatoes often (heavy foods), the next meal should be without the meat. The next meal can be without the potatoes, and just a salad (with no meat in it of course), after that, a piece of fruit. Then, just 100% vegetable or fruit juice and then water. This helps the body adjust to the fast. Do this at the pace you’re comfortable with. For some, this is a three day period, for some it could be longer.
2. Expect anger and pain for the first few days
Now that you’re only on water, the first few days will be difficult. Your flesh will be mad at you. You may feel physically angry. This is your flesh saying to you, “I hate you! Give me food so I can be strong again!” Keep that in mind and use that as encouragement to continue to reject its cries for empowerment.
You must hate your flesh. The whole reason why you sin is because of your flesh. Fasting is so effective at weakening the flesh because the flesh is empowered by the physical world. This means it needs a healthy dose of the world, its entertainment, pleasure and its base necessity, food, to thrive. When you cut it off, you cut off its source of strength. The flesh becomes weak and your connection with God can be strengthened.
You may hear other voices too, those are demons. They don’t like that you’re taking control of the only avenue they have to express themselves in the real world. Keep that in mind and resist their cries to eat because they too are responsible for tempting and compelling you into your compulsive behavior and sinful actions. Through your God given authority they will be casted out soon (Luke 10:19).
Ask the Holy Spirit for the strength to maintain your fast.
Hunger pains, headaches, and joint aches may occur as well. This is normal. Actually, the body uses most of its energy to digest food. Now that it doesn’t have to, it can spend time fixing other things wrong in your body. I had a knee joint that never fully healed from a decade ago that healed during a three day fast. I felt it.
During a fast, the body takes the time it would’ve spent digesting food to do some much needed spring cleaning and maintenance in your body. This is why everyone who knew better, before modern doctors came on the scene, practiced fasting. The body needs a Sabbath from food to do some much needed repairs. Expect to go to the bathroom too as your body will get rid of excess waste.
3. Clarity of mind, peace and weakness
Expect to get clarity of mind after the pains of hunger subside and you’re well into your three plus days of fasting. The flesh tends to give up crying for food after it knows it won’t get any. Certain demons will have left by then and the others will be evicted soon in Jesus’ name.
Now it’s time to hear the Lord speak. Confess all known sins, repent and ask God for his Spirit to strengthen you further. Acknowledge your weakness and need for him. Ask to understand the root of your sinful actions and proclaim your desire to be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29).
Open your Bible and begin to study with the expectancy of hearing him answer your prayer. Wait and listen to his voice as your study his word and meditate on the passages the Spirit guides you to. God speaks through the Bible, dreams, sermons, people, circumstances and articles too.
All the while you may be physically weak, so set aside some time to lie down. Some parts of your fast will require sleep. If you need to, take a nap, but afterward, resume your commitment to hearing God. Don’t be distracted, stay focused on the objective. You’ll be given instruction on how to overcome sin, power to do so, his will for your life, next direction and whatever you’re seeking him for.
4. Breaking your fast
Afterward, write down what you’ve learned as a reminder. As you hear God, ask how long you should stay on your fast and he’ll let you know when to break it. Coming off the fast is much like how you started it, but only in reverse.
Start with fruit or vegetable juice, then a salad, then some bread, then potatoes and then meat again. You’ll find that you may not want to eat so much because your stomach will have returned to its normal size and can no longer accommodate so much food, or certain kinds of food is no longer satisfying (because it was really junk). Fasting is physically and spiritually transforming. The more you fast the less struggle it will be.
Now, repeat this process whenever you need too. Fast when you feel the flesh getting strong or for the other needs you have. Regular fasting along with prayer and Bible study will keep your flesh weak and your connection with God strong.
May God bless you during your fast.