As we begin this new year we want to hear God's voice, so we are calling for a corporate fast. You may have some questions about fasting before we get started. Below are some basic questions you may have and some basic answers. There are also some suggested resources you may use if you would like to read further. We hope this will help you as you consider joining us as we seek God through prayer and fasting.
What is fasting?
Fasting is a spiritual discipline in which one voluntarily goes without food or some other regularly enjoyed gift from God for a prescribed period of time in an effort to draw closer to God.
Is there a proper method to fasting?
Fasting can take many forms and last for varied lengths of time.
When undergoing an absolute fast, one would temporarily go without food and water or other liquids. In Acts 9:9, the apostle Paul gave us an example of an absolute fast when he went for three days and nights without food or water following his encounter with Jesus as he traveled on the road to Damascus. An absolute fast should not be undertaken for longer than 3 days unless one is being supernaturally sustained by God as was the case when Moses was alone with God on Mount Sinai for forty days and nights when he received the ten commandments (Exodus 34:28).
We typically think of a regular fast as refraining from eating all food. However, one would still drink water and possibly juice.
Jesus gave us an example of a regular fast when He fasted for forty days and nights and then was tempted by satan in the wilderness. We know that He fasted from food only because the bible tells us that at the end of His fast “He was hungry” (Luke 4:2). Had He also fasted from water, He would have been thirsty before hungry.
When we commit to a partial fast, we omit certain food(s) or meal(s) from our diets. For example, one may choose to skip breakfast, lunch, or dinner each day of their fasting period. Alternatively, one may choose to omit certain foods such as meat, sweets, sugary drinks, etc. This is commonly called a Daniel Fast, as it is modeled after Daniel and his friends who asked permission not to eat the king’s rich delicacies and chose instead to eat a diet of pulse (foods grown from the ground). The key here is that whatever you give up should truly be a sacrifice. If you give up spinach which you dislike and never eat anyway, this is not a sacrifice, nor is it a true spiritual fast.
Some of us have health issues which make fasting from meals or food unwise for us. Even in that case, you can participate in a fast. Perhaps a partial fast from specific foods will still work for you. You might give up sugary or salty treats. But, a fast does not have to be centered around food. You can fast from television, social media, video games or anything that you do regularly. Again, the key is sacrifice. Keep in mind that fasting is a time to pull away from something(s) from which you get regular enjoyment in order to devote more time to God and to your spiritual growth.
Fasting can also be personal or corporate. The length of time for a personal fast should be determined by praying and listening. God will reveal to you how long your fast should be. When participating in a corporate fast, as we are, there is typically a prescribed length of time for the fast and specific dates on which it begins and ends. There may be a prescribed fasting method or it may be up to each individual to fast as he or she is moved. Before she went to the king to ask for freedom for her people, Queen Esther called for all the Jews present in Shushan to neither eat nor drink for 3 days and nights (Esther 4:16).
What are some of the benefits of fasting?
Fasting is all about drawing closer to God. When we fast as God desires, in a way that truly glorifies Him, we will extend kindness, charity, justice and generosity to others. “Then your light shall break forth like the morning. Your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am’” (Isaiah 58:8-9). Through fasting, we learn self-discipline (1 Corinthians 9:27). Fasting also prepares us for ministry (Acts 9:1-19).
2 Samuel 1:12
2 Chrionicles 7:14
God’s Chosen Fast by Arthur Wallis
The Daniel Fast by Susan Gregory
The Daniel Fast Workbook also by Susan Gregory