What comes to mind when you think of Fasting and Prayer? Really, let’s do a gut check here… My first thoughts are ‘No Way, I can’t go all day without eating’. Can I be more honest? When I felt God prompting me to dig into How to Fast, I sort of freaked out. Anytime God walks me through something – I end up living it out in a hard way and I did not want to!
So imagine my shock when I began to search scripture for all the rules about How to Fast -and found none.
The Bible does not give us rules for how to fast
We started this series by looking at 5 of the Reasons God Calls His People in a Fast and how there is hope in it. Next, we saw that God has a lot to say about How Not To Fast, or how we can Ruin a time of Fasting. And honestly, I started there because God started there.
What I expected was a list of acceptable fasting practices – maybe in Leviticus – to study and try out. In fact, most of the internet is obsessed with the logistics of Fasting… while God is more concerned with our heart during a fast.
Jesus did tell us how our behavior should be during a fast – humble and indiscrete (See Matthew 6:16-18). But He doesn’t say Fast from meat, fast from all food, fast from doing such and such…
A Fast is about humbling our heart before God.
Fasting is about giving up the thing I seek for satisfaction in order to draw near to God… allowing God to satisfy us.
Do you struggle with Anxiety?
One area where I find myself calling out to God (over and over) is with my Anxiety. I just worry about so many things – things that are outside of my control.
I have pulled 40 of my go-to Verses about Overcoming Anxiety into this Free Reading and Journaling Plan.
Biblical Fasting does refer to food.
When you think about it, food gives us nourishment, energy to get through the day and can reach a place of satisfaction for most of us.
In the Biblical time, they would have spent a great deal of time preparing food. We don’t so much with our modern lifestyles. We can microwave a meal in 5 minutes that would have taken hours for them to make.
Anyway, their focus was giving that time back to God – in prayer and worship. That would have been a lot of time for all of their meal prep and eating. They also would have allowed the hunger pangs to remind us of our dependency on God and drive them deeper in prayer.
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There are many Types of fasting demonstrated in the Bible.
Where the Bible does not give us rules per say, it does give us examples. And please notice that God honored every type of fast (where the heart was in the right place) so I see Grace in God’s plan for a Fast. Also, when people were just following the “rules” they had set about a time of Fasting (and their heart was out of line) God did not honor it.
I love that about God’s desire – Heart before Rules.
- A 40 day Complete fast (NO food or water):
- The Complete fast which could last from part of a day to an entire day to several days or weeks.
- This was the most common in the scripture so I’ll just list a few. (Esther 4:16; Joel 2:12; Ezra 8:21-23; Jonah 3:5-9)
- A Partial Fast: In 1 example we see they ate fruit, veggies and drank water for 10 days.
- Daniel and the 3 used this fast to honor God while in captivity. (Daniel 1:12)
- The Daniel Fast: No meat, no tasty bread, no wine, no oils for his skin (For 21 days) (Daniel 10:3; Daniel 9:3)
- These would have been things that satisfied Daniel, good food and relief from dried skin (Daniel was older by then and living in a hot dry land).
- A Fast from Sex
- We are told husband and wife can decide together to give up sex for a time and reason (1 Corinthians 7:5)
Not all examples of a Biblical Fast are about Food
The last 2 examples give me an understanding that this is really about replacing things that satisfy us physically with God for a time and specific purpose.
In the past, I have fasted from food and found that to draw me nearer to God in deep ways.
The physical reminder of hunger is a prompt to pray, worship and draw nearer to God. The emotional connection to food (believe me there is an emotional connection) can actually drive me to my knees more intensely!
There have also been times I chose social media fast – that is eyes opening! Another time I set aside my phone for an entire day – wow was that humbling and revealing!
When we Add scripture to our Prayers they become strategic and powerful.
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A Fast is about a heart posture – not a diet
The reason I chose to give up my phone the last time – instead of a meal – is my habit of turning a fast into a diet… that is not a right heart posture. We’ll talk more about those things next week 😉
If your heart is in the right place – and you truly are drawing near to God with a purpose, Fasting in any form will quicken your soul for Him.
A Book that really helped me grasp this was Jen Hatmakers 7 Experiement.
Fasting is about giving up satisfying myself to let God fill me… Allowing God to feed my soul the way Jesus explains it.
John 4:32 “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”
Do you feel that deep need for spiritual food? Are there things in your life you need God to answer or act on quickly? Join me on this journey to draw nearer to our Savior.
comment below “I’m in” and I’ll pray for you as we Answer the Call to Fast together!