Fasting: A Few Words on Why and How

Fasting is the spiritual discipline that forces us to face the reality that there is something more important and essential to our life than even food. It’s God and his kingdom, and when we fast, we grow into the realization that, though the physical world is pertinent, God’s spiritual kingdom is preeminent.
Here are a few yet focused thoughts on fasting that have helped me in recent years.
Why Fast?
Consider these three reasons at the least.
1. It is a principle taught by Jesus and modeled by the early church.
Jesus said in Matthew 6:16, “When you fast…” He did not say “if” you fast. Additionally, we see examples of fasting for direction in the early church, such as in Acts 13 and the sending of Saul and Barnabas. (13:2–3).
2. We want to draw closer to Jesus and his power over sin.
Jesus intriguingly said one time that there was a type of enemy only battled through prayer and fasting (Mark 9:29). This text seems to indicate that fasting brings us into a closer relationship with Jesus and his power in certain types of spiritual warfare than perhaps is normally experienced.
3. We want to stir ourselves and the body of Christ towards repentance.
Nehemiah fasted and prayed after he heard of the demise of the city of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1:3–4).
How Do We Fast? 
Consider these four types that can be used, depending on one’s preferences and physical ability.
1. Fasting from a meal.
This can be done daily or weekly, and in this fast you forego a specific meal in order to focus on God and his work in your life through prayer.
2. Fasting for a day.
This, too, can be done weekly or monthly, and, as in #1, is usually accompanied by undistracted time with God focusing on his work in your life through prayer.
3. Fasting for multiple days.
Please make sure you do this only after making sure you are physically able and spiritually ready. Check with your doctor regarding any medication you are taking or medical situations you have going on to ensure that abstaining from food and/or liquid will not adversely affect your health.
4. Fasting from aspects of our normal diet.
Sometimes referred to as the Daniel fast, this fast is centered around abstaining from specific types of food or ingredients, such as caffeine, bread, etc. Some people take this concept and apply it to other non-food elements of life as well, like electronics, recreation, or even hobbies. While Scripture doesn’t condemn this, neither does it actually give us any textual evidence for a fast that doesn’t involve some type of food or drink.
Two Simple Reminders
Remember—fasting isn’t just abstaining from food for physical reasons, but rather for spiritual reasons. It’s designed to help us focus on God more intensely by, for example, using the time we normally eat to instead seek God in prayer. So as you decide how you will fast and pray, be alert to the need to focus on God and his work in your life.
Finally, fasting isn’t something done to gain attention from others (Matthew 6), but rather to focus our attention on God. So while you are fasting, try and carry on as you normally do except during the times you are getting away to focus on God in an undistracted manner.

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