For a lot of Christians, the new year is a great time to begin a fast. If you are new to Christianity, fasting is going without food (or some other regularly enjoyed activity) for the sake of your spiritual growth and health. Basically, instead of something you do routinely or enjoy on a daily basis, substitute it with more prayer and more Bible reading.
But can we all agree that fasting has become a lost discipline within the Christian community? Fasting for us shouldn’t be something we do on rare occasion, rather it is something we should be doing constantly. The Bible says in Matthew 6:16, “WHEN you fast”, not “if you fast”. That’s a huge difference, especially because fasting is a theme found throughout the entire Bible.
Now, if you’re new to the discipline of fasting, I’ve laid out a few points that should be helpful:
- Go Easy. Don’t start a 7 or 21 day fast if you’ve never done it. I would begin with missing a meal here and there before you go full in to a major fast.
- Plan Your Fast in Advance. There are several types of fasts – The Daniel Fast, Juice Fasts, Intermittent Fasting, Water Only, Caffeine Fast, Sugar Fast, TV Fast, Social Media fasts, etc. Whatever you do, you have to plan accordingly. For example, I’m currently on the Daniel Fast – but I quickly realized that there was nothing in my kitchen that supported a veggie only fast for 21 days. Planning is a key for a successful fast. Side thought: if you’re going on a social media fast, do you have to tell everyone on social media? Just asking.
- Plan what you want to accomplish during the fast. Fasting isn’t just to shed some unwanted weight or detox your body, its intention is to draw you closer to Jesus. So, in the place of what you are giving up, what are going to do? Pray? Read the Bible? Do an act of kindness? Plan what you want to pray about. Again, planning is key!
- Stick with it! It may feel like you’re lost in a wilderness – but keep going. If your stomach begins to growl, grab a gallon of water. If it continues to growl, eat a giant cheeseburger. Just kidding…don’t do that. This is all a part of the process. I promise you that this will only result in a discipline that you will appreciate when you are done with your fast.
Anytime my wife and I fast together, we fast for something specific that we want to see God do in a situation or for someone else’s benefit. For example, in 2008 we decided to sale our home but the only problem was the housing market began to crash. So what did we begin to do? Fast. And do you know what happened? We sold that home for what we were asking for. The housing market crash was not a problem for God. And time after time we have seen God answer us during our times of fasting. I would also encourage you to fast if you are about to head into a new journey in your life. If you’re starting college, fast. If you are starting a new job, fast. If you are about to have children, fast. If you are about to get married, fast.
So does God owe us anything for fasting? Nope. But he loves it when we humbly submit ourselves to the discipline of fasting. I believe that your faith will strengthen and you will have a hunger for God like you’ve never experienced if you begin the discipline of fasting.