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wombat
Oct 24th 2008, 01:10 AM
Hello, everyone! I have a question for you about how to fast. I've never fasted before, have never really even thought about doing so, but for some reason I have had an intense feeling today that the Lord is putting on my heart to fast and pray. May I ask you all if there are any guidelines for doing such a thing? For example, how long does a person usually fast, or is it up to every individual to decide for themselves? Do you go completely without food or do you sustain yourself with something every so often? I am one who has a weak constitution for going without food--I get shaky when I am too long between meals--but I feel very strongly that God is asking me to fast and pray, and I want to do it the right way.

Thanks for your help!

Dani H
Oct 24th 2008, 02:01 AM
I copied this over from my response in another fasting thread in the Maturing in Christ section:

Fasting is a basic discipline in the Christian walk. It is a tool God gives us to pull us away from the constant cravings of our bodies, into a greater focus on Him. You don't have to be some sort of hyper-spiritual "super Christian" to fast, either. Any believer can, and should, do it. Jesus said "when you fast," not "if you fast." So it is understood that fasting is a normal thing for a disciple of Jesus.

The question is "Why do I want to fast?" The main reason is obviously not for physical benefits, even though it carries those with it. Fasting helps us deny the constant cries of our bodies for food and attention, and the time and energy we would otherwise devote to that, and set that time aside instead for God, to pray and study His Word. It's not the fasting itself that brings power, it's the extra focus that it affords us to seek God as we purposefully pull ourselves away from satisfying the demands of our bodies for a time.

My personal advice is to start slowly. Set aside a 24-hour period (perhaps sundown to sundown) and just take liquids (water and fruit juices and so forth), or water and bread or something along those lines. Don't completely deny yourself sustenance, or your body will rebel (and rightfully so) and will distract you from seeking God. Don't punish your body, which is God's creation; just don't allow it to squawk in your ear as to its extra cravings, and just give it the basics. If a full day seems daunting to you, then perhaps begin with fasting one meal and focus that time on God instead. Prayerfully approach it, start small, and let God lead you. When I started fasting, I started small; I can't remember if it was just a meal or if it was a day, it's been so long ago. I've done 2- and 3-day fasts, and I've done 21-day partial fasts as well. It all depends on the situation and God's will. There was a time for several months where I fasted for a 24-hour period every week.

Fasting is not a "diet" nor is it used as such. It's a spiritual discipline, and should be approached on that level. It is a great way to offer up your body unto God and allow Him to control its desires, because our bodies connect us to the physical world with all its temptations and trip-ups.

BroRog
Oct 24th 2008, 02:02 AM
Hello, everyone! I have a question for you about how to fast. I've never fasted before, have never really even thought about doing so, but for some reason I have had an intense feeling today that the Lord is putting on my heart to fast and pray. May I ask you all if there are any guidelines for doing such a thing? For example, how long does a person usually fast, or is it up to every individual to decide for themselves? Do you go completely without food or do you sustain yourself with something every so often? I am one who has a weak constitution for going without food--I get shaky when I am too long between meals--but I feel very strongly that God is asking me to fast and pray, and I want to do it the right way.

Thanks for your help!

How long?

The answer to how long is "why?" What is the purpose?

The practical answer is there are various fast intervals: 24 hour fast, 3 day fast, 7 day fast, two week fast. Jesus fasted for 40 days, but this is not recommended for anyone but the very strong.

Physically, a person can go without food much longer than he or she can go without water. You can die from not having any water for 3 days. Care must be taken to drink plenty of water during a fast. Remember that our food contains water and so if you go without food, you need to drink more water than normal to compensate for the lack of water you would normally get from food.

Getting shaky.

For me, it is relatively easy to miss a meal, and I can even go 24 hours without eating if needed. But after that, my body begins to crave food and the longer I go, the stronger the craving gets. However, after three days the cravings begin to go away. By the end of the week, I am feeling weak but the cravings have stopped. If it wasn't for the fact that eating is a habit, and a way to have family time, I would be able to go for a couple more weeks until the hunger would return. After about two or three weeks, the hunger returns and your body begins to feed off itself.

Since fasting has physical effects, it is a good idea to get a physical before doing it. The physical effects, including the weight loss, is only temporary unless the fast goes too long. After that, a person can do permanent damage to the body.

Also, since folks experience feelings of weakness and lack of energy during a fast, most people start a fast while on a scheduled vacation or a long, three-day weekend.

Water only?

Generally when we fast, we do without all food. But some folks aren't physically able to go that route. So as an alternative, the fast restricts the eating of solid food, but not the drinking of fruit or vegetable juice.

Why fast?

Essentially, the fast is an attempt to mimic our body's natural, physical reaction to intense feelings, like that experienced during mourning for instance. Just as a person experiences a loss of appetite during that time, those seeking God in prayer fast so that they might focus on the prayer time with uninterrupted devotion. In addition, going with out food has a tenancy to focus the mind as food has a calming affect on the body during digestion.

Some folks think of the fast as a form of "mortification of the flesh". That is, they think that to deny the flesh is to reach a higher level of spirituality.

Don't forget Thanksgiving.

It's funny that you should ask this question in October, because my own longing to fast seemed to come around the fall season. My problem was that I would end up fasting around Thanksgiving, since this was the only time I had off work other than Christmas. And wouldn't you know, I would end up breaking my fast with a big plate of turkey. I wouldn't recommend it though.

Best to plan your fast when you have time off, but not during major eating holidays. :)

Now, that is my practical advise for fasting. Others may have Biblical answers. I don't know. :hmm:

wombat
Oct 24th 2008, 02:52 AM
Thank you, DaniHansen and BroRog! I appreciate your help!

wombat
Oct 26th 2008, 05:04 PM
Hi, everyone! I thought I'd let you know how my fast went, as I ended up starting it the same day I started this thread and got your advice. I used the day for lots of prayer and Scripture study and limited myself to juice, water, and a few bland crackers and unsweetened cereal just to keep up my strength. I did start feeling a bit weak-kneed and shaky around 3:00 p.m., but nothing real bad. The interesting thing is that somewhere around that time, while I was praying, I asked God, "Is there some reason you wanted me to do this fast?" I spend a lot of time in prayer and reading His Word regularly, so I was feeling a bit like, "I do this all the time anyway--why the need to fast? Why did you put in on my heart to do this? Is there something in particular you want me to pray about?" About a minute or two later, I got a phone call from my father-in-law. He was calling from the hospital. He said my mother-in-law was having unexpected surgery--some bad complications from her surgery of a week ago. He asked me to pray. As soon as I heard this, I knew that this was the cause of God laying it on my heart to fast and pray. I was overwhelmed by this and I still am.

FaithfulSheep
Oct 26th 2008, 05:52 PM
A recommendation... after you end your fast, when you begin eating, eat light foods and take your time... your body will not be happy if you eat a Big Mac and fries after fasting a few days.;)

wombat
Oct 27th 2008, 01:38 PM
A recommendation... after you end your fast, when you begin eating, eat light foods and take your time... your body will not be happy if you eat a Big Mac and fries after fasting a few days.;)
Thanks, FaithfulSheep! Good advice!

Dani H
Oct 27th 2008, 02:59 PM
That is an amazing testimony, Wombat. God always knows what is needed, all we have to do is listen, and obey. Thank you for sharing! :hug: