How to Fast

[If you have a serious medical condition, you should consult a doctor before fasting.]

For those new to fasting, please read through these few ideas I’ve learned over the years to make it an easier and better experience.

Make Your Peace With Hunger

First things first, prepare yourself mentally and make your peace with the fact that fasting means you will be hungry. Hunger pains are uncomfortable, but remember it is temporary and for a worthy purpose. Consider it your sacrifice of pleasure, in order to seek the Lord about something vitally important. Hunger is a necessary part of the process.

Know that the benefits of fasting are not just spiritual. The medical and health community has begun recognizing the physical benefits of fasting in recent decades. Among other things, it is actually very good for your brain!

Sunset to Sunset, a Simple Schedule

If you are fasting 24 hours, I suggest you fast from sunset one day to sunset the next. After the sun sets on the second day, have a light meal. This is a wonderful schedule and you never go to bed completely hungry.

Note, if you instead choose to fast one calendar day (i.e., skipping breakfast, lunch and dinner, and not eating until the next morning at breakfast), you are actually fasting something like 36 hours, not just 24. The sunset to sunset fast is shorter and less stressful on the body.

Pray During Mealtime

Whatever the length of your fast, spend the time you would normally spend at mealtimes in prayer and fellowship with the Lord. Read His Word. Talk to Him about the issue for which you are fasting, as well as for your needs. Pour out your heart to Him. Give Him praise for His blessings. Love on Him and in turn receive His love for you.

Be Charitable

Share the food you would normally eat with someone hungry. This is a principle right out of Isaiah 58. God wanted the Israelites to be charitable during the fast, to share their food with the hungry, to meet the needs of the poor. If it is not possible to immediately find someone in need, then give something extra to charity during your fast. You are saving money and food by not eating, so share what you are saving with others. This is what God intended, and the blessings are immeasurable.

Live Normally

While fasting, dress normally, act normally, go to work or school. In a private fast, don’t announce to those outside your home you are fasting. The fast is between you and the Lord, a humble thing, not something to boast about for personal glory.

If you have a family, especially children, feed your family. Provide food for them as normal. Don’t ignore the needs of your house because you are fasting. This is also an instruction right out of Isaiah 58.

Bottom line, go about your life as normal during a fast. Do your chores, work or homework. Just spend meal times in prayer and give something extra, whether food or resources, to an individual in need or charity.

Types of Fast

Not every fast has to be where you take no food and no water. Certainly, that is one way, but there are other ways and I’ve seen God bless mightily through them also.

Solid food fast

In this fast, you avoid solid food, but still take liquids such as juice or tea. In my novice days of fasting, this was my most common method. It is a good beginning and still trains your body, preparing you for more rigorous fasting down the road.

For coffee drinkers, have your cup of tea or coffee in the morning to avoid a disruptive caffeine headache, but skip the sugar and cream. Remember, the point of fasting is to set aside your own pleasure to seek the mind and heart of God.

If you have physical issues where you become weak or ill without some nutrition, then adjust accordingly. If you feel you are going to faint, then take some juice or milk to sustain you through the fast. God is gracious and will still use your sacrifice of pleasure for His purposes. Baby steps.

Water only fast

This is the next step for those whose physical needs don’t prevent it. During this fast, you take nothing except water.

Conclusion

Prepare yourself mentally and choose the best schedule for you. Remember, the point of fasting is to set aside your comfort and pleasure to seek the Lord with your full focus. In my experience, it is amazing how not thinking of what food or beverages you are going to consume next changes your ability to focus on Him.

Make your fast fit your personal needs and the needs of others in your life. Meet your obligations at home and elsewhere, give what you are saving during the fast to someone in need or to charity.

The Lord will bless your efforts, and remember, He is gracious. Do what you can, but don’t push beyond what is reasonable. If you are becoming faint or ill, then stop the fast. If you are brand new to fasting, start slow and increase your fast the next time. Your body will adjust to it and you will find it easier when you know what to expect.

Above all, God bless you for daring to take this most precious and powerful step in your spiritual life! Enjoy your time with Him, and watch Him work in mighty ways in you as a result!

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Isaiah 58: God’s Manual For Fasting

Want to see the power of God in your life, in your home? Need to break old habits, sin you cannot overcome, gain understanding in a situation that has eluded you, and much more? Fast. Start with one meal a week, and work your way up as the Spirit leads.

When we fast, we turn His spiritual strength in our lives to full power. 

Jesus told the disciples some evil cannot be conquered apart from fasting (Mark 9:29). And, Isaiah 58 very specifically reveals the meaning and rewards of fasting:

The time without eating (fasting) is a time to take off the chains of wickedness, and to take the heavy load of sin off the neck. It is a time to let those who suffer under a sinful power go free, and to break off what restrains them.

It is a time to share your food with the hungry, to meet the needs of the poor and don’t remove yourself from the needs of your own household.

Then your light will break out like the early morning, and you will soon be healed. Your right and good works will go before you. And the shining-greatness of the Lord will keep watch behind you.

Then you will call, and the Lord will answer. You will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take the weight of sin away, and stop putting the blame on others and stop speaking idol words, 

10 and if you give what you have to the hungry, and fill the needs of those who suffer, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your darkness will be like the brightest time of day. 

11 The Lord will always lead you. He will meet the needs of your soul in the dry times and give strength to your body. You will be like a garden that has enough water, like a well of water that never dries up.

Isaiah 58:6-8 (New Life Version) – some parts paraphrased

Victory Over A Demon Through Fasting

Some time ago, we had a young girl come stay with us. Her family sent her in hopes a trip away would help her, for she had been ‘visited’ many months by an unwelcome spirit posing as a scary woman out of a childhood fairytale, or nightmare. Not surprisingly, accompanying the spiritual oppression were real, vivid nightmares.

Before she arrived, I tried to prepare for the spiritual challenge, for I knew she would not come alone. I dreaded her tagalong guest spending even one minute in my home. However, I also had confidence the entity would not be able to stay long, for our home is one surrendered to Jesus Christ and filled with the life-giving presence of the Holy Spirit. Still, I fought anxiety.

I spent some time praying War Room style (if you have not seen the movie, I urge you to do so) for our home to be protected and for the enemy to be defeated quickly. Hours after her arrival, we were already in meaningful conversation about spiritual matters. She knew the creature visiting her was demonic and expressed how badly she wanted freedom from it.

The spirit had a powerful attachment to her. Before she left the airport on the plane that would bring her to us, the spirit had appeared and asked her not to go, saying, “I want you to stay with me.”

Our first step was to encourage this dear one to reaffirm her relationship with the Lord. It was answered prayer that she enthusiastically agreed. We prayed with her the very first night to receive or reaffirm her relationship with Christ. I believe she knew Him prior, but we wanted to cover all bases. For, if a person is not a Christian, inviting Christ in your life is the first line of defense against a demonic foe.

The second thing we did was to talk to her about surrender and filling of the Holy Spirit. If your life is not surrendered, if you are holding back any area of your life or harboring ungodly items in your home, then you are laying out a welcome mat for Satan and his minions. We know this personally. There was a time several years ago we went through our house to find and destroy everything that might give the enemy an invitation.

The simple rule is, don’t keep impure movies, books or magazines in your home. Cleanse your internet surfing and tv watching. Never bring home or harbor items from pagan religions. For heaven’s sake, don’t consult with mediums, fortune tellers or worse, witch doctors. They are forbidden very clearly in Scripture (Lev. 19:31; Deut. 18:10-13; 1 Chron. 10:13-14…)

You get the idea. Purity is a big deal to God, both morally and spiritually, and there is a reason. The lack of purity allows a powerful enemy to hang around and cause all kinds of trouble. Don’t mess with it.

Our guest willingly prayed with us again. She vocalized her surrender to the Lord, and asked the Holy Spirit to fill her. Together we commanded the enemy to leave her. We hoped and believed afterward that we would be home free.

To our dismay, however, the nightmares continued. And worse, within a day or two, our friend was again seeing her demonic visitor – in our home! She would see its shadow, or be startled by it appearing suddenly in front of her. I would hear her gasp in another room and knew we still had a big, scary problem. I fought against fear we would not win and begged God for answers.

Meanwhile, I was getting advice from other friends, prayer warriors whom I had reached out to for prayer support. Some were telling me to find an expert who knew how to deal with demonic oppression. I didn’t know where to begin. I’d never even heard our local Pastor talk about direct spiritual warfare.

However, the Spirit seemed to whisper peace to me and to hint that this would not be necessary. For one thing, I thought, do we have so little of the Holy Spirit’s power in our own lives that we must remain in oppression lest we reach out to a professional?

Further, I remembered Jesus telling the disciples He had given them power over demons. If they had that power, then so must we! However, I specifically remembered Him telling the disciples in one particular instance of defeat that, “this kind only comes out by prayer and fasting!” (Mark 9:29)

There it was, the answer we had been seeking. The next step we had to take was clear, the final step in kicking the demon out of our home and our guest’s life. We had to fast.

Fasting is the Christian’s ultimate spiritual weapon. The past couple of years, I have fasted somewhat regularly and know its power. Have an unconquerable situation in your life? Fast and pray. Those mountains Jesus promised we would move with just a tiny bit of faith will move as a result of fasting. Not hearing God’s voice on a subject? Fast. His voice will become so much clearer during the period of time you abstain from food.

When we proposed fasting to our friend, she welcomed the idea. I wasn’t sure the length we should fast, but we prayed for guidance. Within a few hours, it seemed clear. We would fast three days.

Later that same day, the Lord took us to a passage in Isaiah that specifically addressed fasting. It is the few verses in Isaiah 58:6-8 where he shared exactly what God wanted from His people during a fast.

The instruction in Isaiah was simple: during the fast, share the food you would normally be eating with the hungry, meet the needs of the poor, and don’t fail to meet the needs in your own house! He also said, remove impurity out of your life, stop blaming others and speaking idol words. In other words, stop whining and focusing on yourself, get clean and meet the needs of those around you!

His promise if His people would obey? The chains of wickedness will fall off, we will go free! And when we call, He will answer, He will lead us and bless us with everything we need.

This was exactly the word we needed! So, we came up with an action plan. As part of our fast, we would bake banana bread, package it up along with a message of the love of Christ, and give it away to those most in need. We live near a city and there are many homeless living on the streets.

We baked the delicious bread and cut it into thick slices. Next, we wrote “Jesus loves you” and John 3:16 on note paper and inserted it into a baggie. Finally, we slipped individually wrapped pieces of the fresh-baked banana bread inside the baggies armed with love, and we prepared to find our recipients.

I remember still feeling anxiety and thinking, what if this doesn’t work, what then? I asked the Lord privately, and timidly, “Lord, is it going to leave?” I heard His small, quiet voice in my spirit say, “It will be washed out.”

During this ministry of charity, I cannot tell you how meaningful it became to us. We walked around the city sharing a simple meal and message of love for those we found in need. I don’t remember how many slices we handed out, maybe 9 or 10. Every person received it gladly, and we prayed each would be changed by the love of Christ.

One final ‘hiss’ from the demon came through our pet cat, Bella. The morning of day 2 of the fast, out of nowhere this usually sweet and gentle cat attacked me. She bit my arm in several places and left marks. Thankfully, they were only surface scrapes, but I knew it was the influence of the enemy making one last desperate attempt to take a swipe at me.

However, that was the last we heard of it. That afternoon, not even 36 hours from starting the fast, the spiritual atmosphere in our home was clear. The demon had gone and our friend’s nightmares along with it. Good riddance!

The day after the fast ended, we had the privilege of baptizing our guest in the ocean. I couldn’t help but think of John the Baptist and the early Christians, baptizing those they led to the Lord in the Jordan River. It was a day of rejoicing. She was free of all that had oppressed her. As He had promised, it just washed away.

As soon as she returned home, our friend and her parents fasted for 24 hours, just in case, to ensure no re-infestation in their home! Praise the Lord, He is faithful to His promises! Fasting has been our greatest ally in winning spiritual victories over the enemy.

Isaiah 58:6-8 (New Life Version) – some parts paraphrased

The time without eating (fasting) is a time to take off the chains of wickedness, and to take the heavy load of sin off the neck. It is a time to let those who suffer under a sinful power go free, and to break off what restrains them.

It is a time to share your food with the hungry, to meet the needs of the poor and don’t remove yourself from the needs of your own household.

Then your light will break out like the early morning, and you will soon be healed. Your right and good works will go before you. And the shining-greatness of the Lord will keep watch behind you.

Then you will call, and the Lord will answer. You will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take the weight of sin away, and stop putting the blame on others and stop speaking idol words, 

10 and if you give what you have to the hungry, and fill the needs of those who suffer, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your darkness will be like the brightest time of day. 

11 The Lord will always lead you. He will meet the needs of your soul in the dry times and give strength to your body. You will be like a garden that has enough water, like a well of water that never dries up.