Why Christians Fast & Biblical Context
Christians fast for the importance of living their lives only focusing on God. Like praying, fasting is another significant action followers of Christ participate in so they can connect with God without distractions.
The New Covenant
Fasting in the New Covenant is not about changing yourself, but more for in the book of Acts, when Paul and Barnabas ordained all elders in every church, God enabled them to build-up others in common faith; and prayed with fasting.
Paul was encouraging other converted believers to grow in their faith and in their teachings. By strengthening the souls of disciples, and by him telling them to enter the kingdom of God through their tribulations, Paul inspired many believers. Keep in mind though, that through Paul and Barnabas both fasting and praying, they ordained the elders of every church by only focusing on the Lord.
And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed. Acts 14:23
One conclusion of why this verse is one of the main examples of why Christians fast are because God commanded His disciples to spread His truth, the Gospel, to the all nations. This is also the reason why Christian Missions were created in the first place as well. Fasting is very important to Christian believers and also the Lord, for the connection between you and Him.
The Act of Worshipping
Fasting is not a replacement for faith in Jesus. It is a servant of faith in Jesus. Fasting is a way of saying with their stomachs and their whole bodies need, want, and trust Jesus. It is a way of saying that Christians are not going to be enslaved by food as the source of their satisfaction. This is one form of worshipping.
Food is a gift from God, and believers glorify God with it in two ways, not just one way. They feast on it with gratitude for God’s goodness, and they also forfeit food out of hunger for God himself. When feasting, Christians gladly taste the emblem of their heavenly food: the Bread of Life, Jesus Himself. Both feasting and fasting are worship for Christians. They both magnify Christ. Of course, both have their peculiar dangers. The danger of feasting is that we fall in love with the gift, and the danger of fasting is that we belittle the gift and boast in our willpower, our discipline.
At its best, Christian fasting is simply a heartfelt, body-felt exclamation point at the end of the sentence “I love you, God. I need you more than I need food and drink, more than I need my life.”
SCRIPTURES FOR FOOD & FASTING
How to Honor God with Fasting
When you take a look at our culture, fast food places on almost every corner and countless opportunities to eat whatever you wish, even a committed Christian may never consider Fasting. Yet, one of the classic, Christian aspects of growing deeper in the faith is Fasting. Our minds are cleared to seek Christ without distractions and interruptions. Even though believers may feel distractions with their stomach aching and growling, they can more easily pour themselves out to the Lord.
God informs that Fasting is important, but Jesus sternly warns of abusing it by using it for a show and tell the game to draw attention to oneself, thus missing the real purpose, that of drawing close to God, and seeking His Will for your life and church. This passage is in the context of pleasing God, where Jesus places Fasting in the ranks of prayer, spiritual commitment, and trusting Him, making it a vital, if not a paramount component of spirituality, of growing deeper in Christian formation/spiritual growth.
Fasting can be used to do wrong, so remember your motives are crucial to honor God and develop our spiritual growth. The Pharisees, as well as their disciples, Fasted twice a week to prove their status and devotion to God before the public (Luke 18:12). However, God seeks the heart, and deeds done through sincerity and honesty, not for the purpose of self-promotion. The Pharisees then added many more regulations on top of the Law. In so doing they were trying to earn God’s favor by being ostentatious with no heartfelt meaning behind them.
When you fast, Jesus is assuming Hid followers will be following the Mosaic Law that required the Jews to Fast at least once annually. This was done on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:29-31). This was a Fasting of repentance, which means coming before God, having remorse for one’s sins, seeking His forgiveness, and asking for forgiveness (following the requirements of the Law for atonement such as sacrifices of food or animal) and to not do them (sins) again. Today we are still called to fast, we do not have to celebrate the Jewish holidays, but Christians are to celebrate Christ as the only Lord and Saviour.
20 Tips- for Christian Fasting
Now since you have an idea of what fasting is and the significance of it, how do you begin? Provided below are twenty different tips to help you start fasting and remain motivated.
1. Identify The Purpose
The first step for any Christian to fast is discerning your reason/purpose for fasting. Are you fasting to empty yourself? To strengthen your relationship with God? Are you fasting to be in solidarity with the poor? Clarifying the purpose of your fast is critical. It creates a frame for your experience.
2. Commit to a Time Period
Deciding on a specific time period and committing yourself to that is the second step to fasting. When being a beginner faster, it is not recommended to immediately dive into not eating or drinking anything for a long time. Try to figure out what exactly is realistic and remain constantly awoke with your commitment.
3. Find Your Weaknesses
Try to anticipate before the fast starts what your weaknesses will be, or the times when you will feel the worst or feel most tempted to eat. Pray that God will give You the strength you need when you need it, and He will.
4. Tell only a Few People
Like what Acts 16 says, when a believer in Christ fasts in secrecy, that is when they will be rewarded. Only inform two to three people that you are fasting. Whether that be a spouse, sibling, or friend. They could also potentially be your accountability partner.
5. Fast from Something Else
Don’t just jump into not eating or drinking for a long period of time. Try fasting from technology or something that you spend a lot of your time doing. Media, reading non-religious books, watching secular movies, or a sports game are a few examples of what you can fast on.
Try to figure out what you love to do all of the time instead of reading the Bible and pray. Also, if you ask the Lord what you should fast from, He will give you an answer.
6. Eat Very Little Before Your Fast
Before fasting, try to eat very little for the previous week so that your body adjusts to not eating a lot. You don’t want to eat nonstop and then one day randomly stop eating or drinking anything for your fasts. There are many different symptoms that could be caused if you do not properly prepare yourself before fasting.
Here are just a few of the many symptoms that could happen if you do not properly prepare your body before fasting:
Low energy levels
7. Drink Lots of Water When Fasting
Make sure that you also drink a lot of water during your fast. The great thing about fasting is that you get all the water you can drink! Drinking plenty of water (you can also drink diluted juice or raw, organic apple cider vinegar if you’re a beginner or want to feel more comfortable) will significantly reduce your hunger pangs and discomfort. If you feel hungry while fasting, just guzzle a half-gallon of water, and that hunger will be gone instantly.
8. Pray During Your Fast
When you are supposed to be eating a meal, meditate on scripture and prayer. Food and drink will be a temptation, but persevere through this hard time and distract yourself with the Holy Word and your communication with the Lord. Your connection to Christ will feed you at a deeper level than you’ve ever imagined. You’ll find yourself more dependent upon and more connected to Him.
9. Read the Bible
There are many passages of Scripture that compare God’s word to food for a reason. It feeds our souls at the very deepest level. One example is in the book of Matthew.
Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. Matthew 4:4
Laziness is a problem that the Bible speaks against, but most of us today suffer from being too busy and not getting the rest we need. If you disconnect from the media and other people you will have extra time allowing you to get a full night’s sleep. During your fast, you will be forced to slow down since you won’t be needing long meal breaks. A fast will reveal to you that you have too many activities and busyness in your day-to-day routine.
11. Disconnect from People
Fasting is not necessarily a vacation, though dedicating time off and away from people during your fast can help you get the most benefit out of this precious time. Leave your email and cellphone behind. If possible, find someone who can cover your responsibilities at work and ministry. Many people fast and still carry on their normal daily activities. But if you can get away, it will give you more time in quietness and stillness with the Lord.
12. Politely Decline Dining Offers
What makes fasting extremely difficult in our culture is that everything revolves around food. We are a food-worshipping, food-obsessed culture, even in the church, and somehow we’re proud of it. As much as you live food, God is not your stomach. When you’re inevitably invited to lunch or dinner with someone, or have unwanted food placed in front of you, simply use these words with a polite smile: “No thanks, I’m not hungry.” By using that simple phrase, you excuse yourself from the social obligation to eat and also keep your fast a secret.
13. Avoid Television and Radio
Disconnecting from TV, radio, newspapers and the Internet can help you stay focused on your purpose for fasting. You will be less tempted by the constant bombardment of advertising as you become physically and emotionally challenged. Avoiding media will give you more time to focus on the Lord and His word.
14. Find Another Activity
People are often surprised by how much time they spend preparing food, eating, and cleaning up. During a fast, all that time becomes open. Before your fast, decide how you will fill some of that open time.
You may engage in prayer, meditation, or spiritual reading. For example, pray for the hungry. You may plan an act of services, such as volunteering at a homeless shelter or a local church.
15. Stay Physically Active
Make sure that you are exercising when you are fasting. Being physically active motivates not only your body but your mind as well. Again, fasting involves dependence on God; God will provide the energy and strength you need.
16. Record Your Fast
A good idea is having a notebook or journal to keep the progress of your fast. You can describe the emotions that you are having and what you did to overcome those negative ones.
Also, you can write down what the Lord has been sharing with you and one day when you’re done with your fast, you can pull out that notebook and see what all you have learned for the future from God, Himself.
17. Write to God
Writing letters to the Lord can help you vent through emotions and also give you a sense of thankfulness. Just like praying, it would be like writing to a friend. The Lord loves each and every individual human on this planet and loves that you are giving up your time of eating to spend time with Him.
18. Think Positive Thoughts
Think about the mastery your spirit is gaining over your flesh. Think about the positive effects occurring in your body as the toxins are being purged. Think about how God is purifying and sanctifying you for His purposes. Like Paul said in the book of Philippians, it will get you through the rough patches.
“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8
19. Have Spiritual Focus on Your Fast
whether it’s praying for someone specific or just seeking intimacy with God, having a spiritual focus for the fast will keep you divinely motivated and fed by your Source.
Make sure that you are remaining spiritually focused on God and remind yourself why you’re fasting in the first place, to rely on the Lord.
20. Try Other Different Fasts
After completing your first fast involving food and drink, consider partaking in your other fasts. Try and consider if there is another fast that you would like to participate in.
There are three different types of fasts: Regular Fast, Supernatural Fast and Complete Fast.
Regular Fast – Traditionally, a regular fast means refraining from eating all food. Most people still drink water or juice during a regular fast. When Jesus fasted in the desert, the Bible says, “After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.” This verse does not mention Jesus being thirsty.
This is where most people start. Whether denying yourself food or some other pleasure, an occasional fast that lasts six, twelve, or twenty-four hours is the most manageable. Nevertheless, you must treat it with the same sincerity as a longer fast. It is not insignificant just because it is short. But it does allow you to move gently into the discipline and to let the Lord instruct you. You are not necessarily making a commitment to do this type of fast again, as it is a one-time fast for a specific purpose.
Partial Fast – This type of fast generally refers to omitting a specific meal from your diet or refraining from certain types of foods. Daniel 10:2-3 says, “At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips, and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.” In Daniel chapter 1, they restricted their diet to vegetables and water.
Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Daniel 1:12
This is normally a regular act of abstinence, for example, one day a week. You may abstain from food, or make some other sacrifice. This type of fast is a way of integrating the spiritual discipline of fasting into your life on an ongoing basis. Partial fasts (denying yourself one or more specific foods) are useful because they help you establish a routine.
Complete Fast – These fasts are complete – no food and no drink. Acts 9:9 describes when Paul went on a full fast for three days following his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus: “For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.” Esther also called for this type of fast in chapter 4. It is recommended that this type of fast be done with extreme caution and not for extended periods of time.
Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: ‘Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will as fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.’ Esther 4:15-16
Giving up food and drink for a specific period of time is not easy. However, once you learn how to only be filled with the Holy Spirit, and not food or drink, you will be rewarded by the Lord. The last two Bible verses that I am going to provide for you is in Matthew chapter six. This scripture specifically references that when a believer fasts in secret that they will be rewarded by the Father.
But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:17-18