“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting… But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” ~ Matthew 6:16-18
“Like all the Spiritual Disciplines, fasting hoists the sails of the soul in hopes of experiencing the gracious wind of God’s Spirit.” ~ Donald S. Whitney
The spiritual discipline of fasting is often misunderstood, causing avoidance altogether. If we do hear teaching on it, it’s usually in relationship to food. But there are many ways to fast that can be as effective, if not more effective, than fasting from food. Personally, I have trouble fasting from meals because of blood sugar issues. So I look for other ways that I can deprive myself in order to deepen my relationship with God.
TYPES OF FASTING:
- Abstain from food, drink, shopping, desserts, etc… to intentionally spend time with God.
- Abstain from media: television, music, computers and games to hear God’s voice.
- Abstain from comfort habits: reading, sports, elevators to give God your undivided attention.
- Pray to be certain of God’s direction for your fast.
- Don’t fast when you are sick, pregnant or nursing.
- If you have any health issues, consult your doctor before fasting.
- Start small. Begin by fasting for one meal. Then work up to longer fasts.
- Always drink plenty of liquids.
- Don’t break your fast with a large meal. The longer the fast the gentler you should break it.
When we fast we lay down an appetite, placing that time and energy on spiritual things. Through our self-denial we begin to recognize areas of our life that control us. When we are willing to set aside something we enjoy and be attentive to God’s voice we will receive grace and nourishment we can’t get on our own.
Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster
The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard
Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun
Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald S. Whitney