February 20, 2010

Fasting: What is it? Who should do it? Why do it? How do I do it?

Posted in Christianity, Fasting tagged , at 9:59 pm by Lisa Ritchey


I want to give you enough information to get you started, but am not going to go into a lot of detail here. I will later refer you to a site with more detail if you want or need it.

Now for The Basics:

  • What is fasting?

By definition, the word fasting means lack of food.* We use the word to refer to the discipline of not eating. This is the most common type of fast.  Most of the time when someone talks about fasting, they are talking about a “water only” fast.

There is good news, though!  There are several fasts where you do get to eat.

The daily length of the fast will usually be from sun up to sun down or 6am to 6pm, or from the time you go to bed on, for example, Tuesday night until you get up on Thursday morning for a one day, although it can be to just skip one meal, or just eat one meal.The duration will usually be 1, 3, 7, 14, 21, or 40 days. When you are going to fast, if it is not a called fast (someone asks you to join them in one) pray and seek the will of God about how long you need to go.

If you are truly serious about getting closer to God, and hearing Him more clearly, the time you would have spent eating, usually thirty minutes per meal, should be spent in prayer. You will be truly amazed at the results. It may take a fast or two for it to happen, so persevere!

  • Who should fast, and why?

There is such a long list, I will sum it up by saying this:  Anyone that needs for God to move on something, needs answers or directions, or wants to truly walk in the spirit.  Let me detail this last one. We are made up of three basic parts. In numerous scriptures, the Bible talks about our flesh. This is comprised of two parts: our body (with its five senses -taste, touch, sight, smell, hearing as well as it’s cravings, lusts and desires) and our soul (our mind, our will, and our emotions).  These two are not born again, and when they  are followed it can really mess up our lives and destinies.

There is then the real us, our spirit (Matthew 26:41). (Our spirit is spelled with a small “s”. The Holy Spirit is spelled with a capital “S”.) One who walks in the spirit bears the fruit of the Spirit. ”

The fruit (the result of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling and being in control of us as we yield to Him and His promptings, allowing Him to use and change us as He wills)

of the of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance  (self-control). Galatians 5:22. Basically, fasting is “afflicting the soul” (Isaiah 16:11): denying the flesh (body, mind and will) what it wants.

THIS is the only way that one can truly walk in the spirit.

The following is an excerpt from my article, WHERE IS THE POWER IN THE CHURCH TODAY? Part 2**:
“Fasting accomplishes two things:

  • Offers a sacrifice to G-d. There are still times when it is a situation of us saying “I am willing to do this. My request is so much more important than food.” and G-d may say, “If you are willing to suffer for it, then I certainly will …” But also,
  • Fasting gets the carnal mind pushed down so that the spirit can be in control.

Romans 8:6 tells us that to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Fasting makes that still small voice in which the Lord speaks to us easer to hear. This also makes it easier for us to obey, with the fleshly desires crucified. The Bible clearly states, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they, are the sons of God.” THAT is a really scary thought! That is what He said, though! And these are the steps to be able to do it. Kenneth E. Hagin wrote an excellent book titled “How to Be Led by the Spirit of God”. My husband and I have given out about twenty copies of it to those that were seeking to know G-d more intimately. It has made a tremendous difference in the lives of those that have read it.

When you ask someone what time it is, you do not have to go into a special room and go through any rituals to get an answer. You ask, and you hear the person speak. You also understand what they say. The same should be true with the Holy Spirit. We should be so sensitive to His voice that we are able to hear him anytime he speaks to us, wherever we are, and no matter what we are doing. This is being led by His Spirit!

During a fast is a good time to sanctify oneself. If you want the ultimate in spiritual power you must truly have given Him total control over your life and everything in your life; family, money, job, friends, clothes, movies and TV shows you watch, books you read, food you eat, places you go, EVERYTHING. Here is a test: Is there anything in your life that you could not let go of if He says it must go, even if your friends get to keep it, or watch it, or go there, or do it? If you really want to know if there is, ask Him. He will let you know, and let you know just exactly what it is!

The result of this type of fasting is revival. I don’t mean evangelism, where a guest speaker comes in and a bunch of people get saved, which we need, but when those that are already Christians are re (again) vived (made alive). This is a really good thing to have happen, too. When groups of individuals are revived, whole cities are changed. And it starts with “I will”.”

  • Who should not fast from food?
    • Anyone who has a medical condition which would make it harmful for them to skip meals, or are on very specific diets such as diabetics or hypoglycemics.
    • People that take medications that have to be taken with food.
      • These people can fast from something else they really enjoy though: the TV, telephone, i-pod, computer, etc. I think you see where I am going with this
  • Now for some of the types of food fasts:
  1. Water Only Fast: Nothing to eat, and nothing to drink except water. It’s duration can be up to forty days.
  2. Juices Only Fast: Nothing to eat, and only pure fruit or vegetable juices to drink.  Same duration.
  3. Omitting certain foods or substances (sugar, bread, or meat for example) This can be done until it becomes a lifestyle change.
  4. Skipping the same meal every day. The duration for this one is variable.
  5. Eating only once a day.  This one’s duration is variable.
  6. Daniel Fast: Probably the best known fast.  On the Daniel Fast, one can eat anytime they desire, just not everything they desire.  The Daniel Fast is usually forty days, but can be used for other lengths of fasts. The requirements for it to be a true Daniel Fast are:
    • A total absence of any type of meat product.  If someone cooks a hamburger on the grill, you have to wash the grill before you put your Portobello Burger on.  No broth, sidemeat, fish, no anything that comes from any kind of animal.
    • No sugar or sweeteners of any type, nor anything that contains them:  No mayo, ketchup, honey, nada.  This includes artificial sweeteners!
    • No chemicals are to be used in the food.  This pretty much means eating only fresh or frozen produce.
    • No dairy products of any type, or anything with dairy in it.
    • Nothing Fried. No solid fats (margarine, shortening, and so forth) are allowed.
    • All caffeine is to be avoided.
    • No leavening (bread that rises) is to be consumed.
    • Google “Daniel Fast” for recipes and lists of specific foods appropriate for this fast.
  • Breaking your fast

When coming off a food free fast that has lasted longer than a day or so, do so gently. Start off with clear liquids such as broth or egg drop soup type things. I would advise you to stick with this for one meal at least. Next, go with toast, dry and plain. After this, progress on to regular food. Within a day or so you will be back to normal foods. After my first real three-day fast, I decided to break it at Shoney’s lunch bar. Believe me when I tell you that I know how not to break a fast, too!

Like I said, I have only touched on some of the very basics of the discipline. Here is a website which gives more detail than I am giving you here, including all the Scriptural references: The Fasting Movement. Jentezen Franklin calls his whole church to a 21 day fast every January. Thousands and thousands of others around the world join them each and every year. Numerous miracles happen as a result of this. He has written several books on the subject, and I have no qualms in referring you to this site.

We would love to hear how your fasting goes, and what God does for you because of it.  Please, come back and leave a comment telling us.

Be blessed!

Lisa

* * Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, Greek dictionary, entry 3521.
**See Archives. WHERE IS THE POWER IN THE CHURCH TODAY? Part 2 was posted on February 12, 2010 and contains more information on fasting.

©Copyright 2010 Lisa Ritchey and Bare Bones Gospel

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