What is the purpose of fasting?
Whilst fasting can be physically good for us this is not the reason we fast.
It is not to lose weight
It is not to go hungry for as long as we can in order to discipline our self
It is not to impress God
It is not to prove I am a “good Christian”
It is to devote our self to a time of dedication to the Lord desiring to draw closer to Him as we spend quality time in prayer. Going without food is an outward sign of this devotion with expectancy for God to speak to us and reveal His will.
Who can fast?
As long as there are no medical reasons for you not to fast it is something anyone can participate in. It is advisable to take great care when considering children fasting. Our advice would be to encourage them to fast perhaps desserts, candy, treats or just one meal a day.
What do I fast?
Fasting means to go without food – this is the fasting the Bible talks about.
If a person feels convicted to fast other things (non essentials) such as movies, TV, Facebook, the Internet, hobbies or pastimes it is probably a good idea for them to assess if those things are taking a place in their life that is too prominent and consider permanently refraining from them or drastically reducing their time spent doing them.
For people for whom going without food is not advisable due to medical reasons they can consider going without special or “treat” type foods.
How much do I fast?
This must be determined only between you and God – do what He asks you to. Don’t feel forced or obliged to do more or less than you honestly know God gives you the faith for.
Some people will fast one meal a day. Some will fast two and others will fast all food.
We strongly advise you to keep your fluid intake up and if you are fasting meals think about the types of fluids you are drinking. Definitely do not consume alcohol while fasting!
How to prepare for a time of fasting
The worse thing you could do just before starting a fast is to ‘stockpile’! This means you eat more than you normally would to compensate for the food your body will be missing during the fast. All this does is stretch your stomach which will demand you keep it that full – you will feel even more hungry!
About 3-5 days before you start you fasting begin to reduce the amount of food you are eating at each meal. This way your stomach gradually shrinks and gets used to having less food.
If you intend to fast right through the 7 days, whether it is one meal or all food, prepare your schedule in advance. Think about appointments that may involve food.
How to come off the fast
Don’t plan to go out for a huge celebration meal on the last night of the fast to mark the end of your fast! You may suffer! Gradually introduce the meals you have been fasting to give your body time to re-adjust.
It is always a good time to assess your diet and determine if there are any foods you could actually benefit from not eating. This is a good time to make these adjustments.
What if I start fasting but can’t carry on?
Fasting is not about discipline or endurance – it’s about deepening the relationship with God and really focusing in on Him. God will never think you have failed if you have to stop fasting. If you have never fasted before, seriously consider starting at a level that you can sustain – like cutting out one meal a day.
Is it just about going without food?
Definitely not! If all you experience during fasting is hunger then nothing of any value has been achieved. Take at least the normal time you would spend preparing food and eating to get in God’s presence to pray and read the Bible. We recommend that you do all you can to get together with others (i.e. family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc) and join together to pray – it will really encourage you. Also, try to get to the Praise & Prayer Evenings at GSIS on Saturdays too (7:00 – 9:00 pm).
How to enjoy fasting!
Consider fasting to be an opportunity for you to draw closer to God and deepen your relationship with Him. Schedule to spend more quality time with Him and expect Him to talk to you – listen for Him.
Perhaps there are specific topics you feel you need answers on; maybe there are lifestyle habits you have not been able to previously break; you may be aware of things God has asked you to do but you have not done them; are there people in your life who need to know Jesus as Savior and Lord; do you have things in your life that haunt you form your past; what are God’s plans for you? As well as using the Daily Prayer Notes (online) and joining with the whole Church, these are excellent things to communicate with God during these days of prayer.
And, of course, join with us all to seek God’s will for The Nations. We believe this will be a powerful and significant time as we put God and His will first in our lives.
Be sure to bathe/shower every day, especially when you fast all food. Your body will remove toxins through the skin, which need to be washed away. You will notice that it affects your breath so be sure to clean your teeth regularly and perhaps use mouthwash too – you don’t need to lose your friends!
If you fast tea or coffee you may experience headaches as your body comes of caffeine. Don’t take painkillers if you are fasting food – this can damage your stomach. Choose if you want to detox from caffeine or reintroduce it into your diet.
As you get hungry you may also feel short tempered, easily upset, angry etc. This is a great opportunity to take these feelings to God and ask Him to help you know how to deal with them.
If you are fasting all food for 7 days you may well start to feel tired and weak. Your body will look for “food” from around your body and your muscles may well be affected. Be wise about physical activities, don’t exert yourself unnecessarily and be sure to get enough sleep. In cold weather take care to wear warm clothes when you go outside – your body will have less food to turn into heat energy. Be sure to drink plenty of water.
There is no reason for fasting to negatively affect your work or your appearance (apart from losing a few pounds). Jesus said we are to not draw attention to our self when fasting. Actually you will find that your mind becomes clearer and more alert, especially if your diet normally includes various “junk foods”.
For anyone fasting all food for a long time you will find the first 3-4 days are the most difficult. If you fast for an extended time you may actually find that you have to make yourself start eating again!
Fasting is not a competition or a way of proving your self-discipline to God or people. Be wise about fasting affecting your health and never feel you cannot stop fasting at any time