As we call the FCA family to a fast, here are a few fasting tips for those who have and have not fasted.
What is a fast?
Fasting is the practice of abstaining from something. Most often, people fast by not consuming food and drink.
What types of fasts are there?
Fasting has become popular in medical and health communities. Intermittent fasts are focused on restoring health to the body or weight loss. Medical fasting is often prescribed to prepare the body for certain medical procedures.
Spiritual fasting may function in similar ways to these health and medical fasts, but it’s to be done with a different purpose. While spiritual fasts may also include abstaining from food and drink, they’re to be done out of a 100% surrender of the heart to God. Spiritual fasting is pleasing to God if it’s done in a spirit of repentance and humility.
In both the Old and New Testaments, we see biblical examples of fasting.
Esther called the Jewish people to a fast before she risked her life and appeared before the king (Esther 4).
David fasted as he asked God to spare his child after Nathan’s rebuke (2 Samuel 12).
The early church in Antioch fasted and prayed together, which was the setting for Paul and Barnabas to get sent out (Acts 13), and many of disciples are said to have fasted.
Not only that, but Jesus modeled a life of prayer and fasting when He walked the earth. When He went into the wilderness for 40 days, He was fasting. He practiced what He preached! During His Sermon of the Mount in Matthew 6:16-18, He gave instructions on what heart-level, fully surrendered fasting really looks like.
“And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you."
How do I fast?
There are several ways to engage in a fast. Ask God to show you what to give up. A fast typically occurs during a set amount of time (a day, a week, a season like lent, 21 days, 40 days). If there’s a timeframe you’d be enjoying or consuming what you’re giving up, spend that time in prayer.
Foods and Drinks
The most common and popular way to fast is to abstain from food and/or drink all together, or certain foods and drinks like meats and sugars.
Before you choose to abstain from food and/or drink, check with a medical professional to ensure it’s recommended for you. This especially applies to those with certain medical conditions or a previous history of eating disorders.
Some who cannot fast food or drink may be called to fast from television, streaming networks, movies, social media, and other modes of entertainment.
God may call some to fast from technology all together, which includes computers, cell phones, tablets and other devices.
What should I practically do during a fast?
While you’re fasting, spend time with God. And be creative! Fasting can include the obvious rhythms of Bible reading, journaling, listening to worship music and Christian podcasts. But it could also look like taking a prayer walk, incorporating Scripture into your workouts, connecting with someone else for discipleship and engaging your creative side.
When a surrendered heart heads into a fast, God will lead you to the ways to connect with Him.
Resources on fasting
There are a plethora of resources on fasting, here are a few to get you started: -FCA-