Prayer and Fasting

Fasting is a discipline of abstaining from something good, like food, that helps us focus our lives and our satisfaction in Jesus. When talking about fasting, Jesus begins, “When you fast…” Notice that he doesn’t say, “If you fast…” (Matthew 6:16).

People who fasted in Scripture: 

Moses (Deuteronomy 9:9,18) , Daniel (Daniel 9:3-5), David (2 Samuel, 12:16, Psalm 35:13), Jesus (Matthew 4:2), Paul (Acts 9:9, 13:1-4), and many others. 

People fasted for different reasons: to mourn, to humble oneself before God, and to focus on praying to God for guidance or preparation.During Jesus’ fast, he quoted Deuteronomy and said, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4) 

Fasting can help us understand this truth with new meaning. We can better understand that Jesus is the true Bread of Life, who sustains us and supplies our greatest needs (John 6:26-35). You will be physically reminded of your spiritual need. God will show you that He is what we are truly desperate for.

Hungering for God's Leading in Antioch

Acts 13:1-4

The situation is that Saul (Paul) and Barnabas and some of the other leaders in the church in Antioch were worshiping—ministering to the Lord—and fasting (v. 2). Judging by what happened we may assume, I think, that the burden that drove them to fast was this: "Where do we go from here as a church?" They were fasting to seek the leading of the Holy Spirit in the direction of their mission.  They were hungry enough for God's leading that they wanted to say it with the hunger of their bodies and not just the hunger of their hearts. "We want your leading, O God! O Holy Spirit, what is your will for the mission of this church?"

How do I fast?

To make sure you are not simply giving up eating, set aside intentional time to focus on God. Read scripture and pray during the time you would normally be eating or preparing food.

Some people have medical issues that prohibit them from fasting from food. Ask the Lord if there is another way in which you can fast. Maybe fast from social media or television and use that time to pray and read the Bible.

Types of Fasts

Full Fast: Drink only liquids (you establish the number of days).

Daniel Fast: Eat no meat, no sweets, and no bread. Drink water and juice. Eat fruits and vegetables (21 Days).

Partial Fast: A partial fast is 6:00am-3:00pm, or from sunup to sundown. You can select from three types of fasting—a Full Fast, Daniel Fast or giving up at least one item of food (21 Days).

Media Fast: Eliminate any choice of media influence–television, movies, Internet, gaming systems, cell phones, etc. or some other regular enjoyment that would bend your heart toward greater enjoyment of Jesus (21 Days).

Here are some other practical tips for fasting:

1. Start slow. If you’ve never fasted before, begin with just one meal.

2. Continue to drink water to stay hydrated. While some individuals in the Bible fasted from both food and water, this choice can be dangerous if you’re not experienced with fasting or haven’t consulted a medical professional.

3. If you’re accustomed to drinking caffeine, don’t stop suddenly. Decrease your intake for a few days before you begin your fast or you may have headaches.

4. Don’t overeat before or after your fast. Eat smaller, healthier meals before and after.

5. Tell only people that you must, but try to be considerate of others in your schedule if you fast (Remember Matthew 6:16-18).

6. Make a firm, prayerful commitment before you begin that you can remember while you’re fasting. Your commitment to fast is between you and God, so be sure to make a sincere, wholehearted commitment. 

7. Consciously reflect on Scripture and your experience. Your physical response will often reveal spiritual truths. Write these down so you can reflect on how you heard from God and what He said.

Reading Plans:

21 Day Fast

One Year Bible Reading Plan

24 Day Plan - Prayer

30 Days to Greater Faith

30 Day - Praying God's Names

Related Articles

Northstar's 21 day fast begins on January 16 (Monday) 

and goes through February 5 (Sunday)

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