A regular question I get is, “Am I fasting properly? How do I know I’m doing it right?”
Personally, I’ve wondered, “Why fast in the first place? Is it going to help my situation?”
In biblical times, fasting was associated with tearing clothes, putting on sackcloth and sitting in ashes. I’m not sure I want to engage in such activities! (wink!)
Thankfully, today we have Matthew 6:16-18 to tell us that we don’t have make a show of our fasting, so sackcloth and ashes is optional. (yay!)
We are instructed to keep the knowledge of our fast between our self and God as an act of worship, creating intimacy and relationship between His heart and ours.
Traditionally, fasting means removing all food for a period of time. While this is still the recommended way of fasting, far too often removing food is viewed as “going on a diet”.
If losing weight is our reason for fasting… we’re fasting with the wrong intent.
The ultimate goal with any fast is to create a margin in our day where we diligently seek the Lord.
Instead of reaching for the food or activity to fill our minds and stomachs we use those prompts to create an awareness for pursuing the Lord about a situation we desire His healing or guidance in.
Instead of reaching for an activity – social media, games, reading material, etc. – we use those urges to turn our attention to God’s Word and into prayer. We choose to keen our minds toward heaven based thoughts, and set our hearts upon heaven’s culture.
Ways to fast other than removing all food:
- internet fasting – this includes social media, email and all other online engagements
- one meal fast – skip one meal and dedicate that time to prayer and Bible reading.
- Sugar fast – no sugary drinks or food – work through those cravings by mentally filling them with Scripture
- Meat fast – no meat for a period of time – choose to eat a few chapters of Scripture each time you crave meat
- Juice fast – drinking only 100% juice, broth and water – reach for the God’s Word, the Living Bread when you crave solid foods
Whichever fast you choose, the ultimate goal is to create a continual and conscience reminder to call on God and trust Him to fill in that space.
God is more concerned about our heart attitudes and intentions than He is about what we sacrifice during a fast.
He desires that we seek Him above all else. He wants to know that we love Him enough to sacrifice a little in order to seek Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Deuteronomy 13:3 says, “The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
Fasting helps us express that.
Three Benefits of Fasting
1. Fasting helps us gain a clear mind and eternal perspective.
When we remove something we regularly depend on in favor of seeking God regarding a situation in our lives, our dependency on God is magnified.
Our eyes become opened to how big God really is and how great His love is for us. We become better focused on the bigger picture.
Our cleared mind and starts functioning on the fact that God really is in control of our life’s concerns, our health, marriage, children’s lives… all of it.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1
2. Fasting helps us to extend grace and forgiveness more freely.
Frankly, I appreciate being forgiven. Bringing myself before the Lord through fasting reminds me how willingly God forgives me. This knowledge of His great mercy and love for me, has helped me develop a more gracious and understanding attitude toward the people in my life.
Placing ourselves in the illumination of God’s love helps us develop greater compassion for others. It’s the process of being filled to overflowing by our perfect Lover, so we may pour out His love to others.
Forgiving is not always easy. In fact, usually hurts beyond what we feel capable of enduring.
However, seeking God through fasting can help cultivate the soil of our hearts so we can be more receptive to the freedom He desires we live in.
3. Fasting helps us put our life, heart, mind, attitude, and strength in God’s hands… not the hands of our situations.
Essentially, fasting is seeking a deeper relationship with the Lord.
When Jesus becomes our Supreme Romance we become liberated to become everything God designed us to be. He becomes the One we desire to know and be known by; the One we desire to love and be loved by.
We are His masterpiece, His beloved children, His bride, His treasured ones.
And He desires that we we dwell in that reality today.
Let’s come before Him in prayer, bringing to Him all our praise, concerns and desires.
And let’s bring ourselves before Him through fasting, placing the holes in our hearts in the wholeness of His hands.
May we come to know His great love for us. May we see evidence of His healing in us. And may we live to show others His love in us.