My prayer and fasting journey has been a long time in the making. I could see how God was blessing my Christian friends when they fasted and I wanted that blessing too. Everything I found on biblical fasting referenced giving up food during a fast but I struggled with it because of my chronic illnesses. Each attempt left me feeling defeated.
In my twisted thinking, I thought it was a lie of Satan that fasting was for everyone. I figured it was a way the enemy manipulated us and made us feel guilty, unworthy, etc. when we couldn’t fast “properly”. Maybe if I was a super Christian I could fast. But I wasn’t. I was just…me.
Searching For Answers
One day during my Bible reading time, I came across a verse that I had not seen before. If you’d like to read more about that, you can click here: The Bible Study That Changed My Life. God used this verse to open my eyes about fasting, my health issues, his desire for us, and the many lies of Satan I was believing.
I began to accept that biblical fasting was for everyone, even me. But there were times I had to take my medication with food and on a certain schedule. There were times I could eat certain foods and not others. So what would a godly fast look like for someone like me?
I turned to Google and Pinterest for testimonies and information on biblical fasting with chronic illness. Sadly, there was very little biblical information out there. I couldn’t understand it. Surely I wasn’t the only Christian with a chronic illness! So why wasn’t anyone talking about it? Had the Devil really buried all of us in the shame and guilt of not being whole and healthy?
God Meets You Where You Are At
I thought maybe I just didn’t understand praying and fasting. Deciding to dig deeper, I turned to books by famous people, listening to sermons, and going to Bible studies all with the focus of biblical fasting. Again, there was very little information out there for fasting with chronic illness and the need for alternative methods of biblical fasting.
Still, at a loss as to what to do, I began my own in-depth study on fasting and prayer. God blessed me with a revelation that broke the chains holding me back. His revelation showed me that my chronic illnesses were not because I was being punished and found unworthy. Everyone has something they deal with and my health issues were my reality. With God’s help, I could learn to deal with them biblically. However, my reality would not change God’s principles.
And then the biggie: the condition of my heart (not the state of my health) is what allows me to set aside something I desire and replace it with God. Nowhere in the Holy Bible does it say this must be food! Talk about a revelation!! Hallelujah!!
The Spirit Is Willing
You remember how Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:41). He took the time he needed to be alone with Father God. Although Jesus desired to do his Father’s will instead of his own (a key to fasting!!), he admitted that his spirit was willing but his body was weak. That was how I felt every time I tried to fast in the past…my spirit was willing but my body was weak. I don’t mean it was unpleasant. I mean I would get sick (think one step forward, 2 steps back).
In my spirit, I believed I needed to try fasting again and this time I trusted that it would be different. After prayer, I started my fasting journey with something a little off-beat; I gave up my Kindle for a period of time and instead spent my “Kindle time” with God. I thought a fast like this would be easy-peasy. Sweet sister, it was hard but I did it! I was so overjoyed to finally be able to fast without my body betraying me. It felt like I had scaled the highest mountain!
A “Proper” Fast
I shared my fasting victory with a close friend who promptly informed me that what I was doing was nice and all but it wasn’t a “proper” fast (meaning God wouldn’t honor it) because the type of fast I was doing was not recorded in the Bible.
Crushed and instantly defeated again, I wanted to give up. Would God really hold me back from one of his amazing gifts (fasting) when I had so little control over the way my body reacted?
Why Are You Fasting?
That question kept circling in my mind and wouldn’t leave me alone. It seemed so important to know not just how I could fast but why I wanted to fast in the first place. Was it to lose weight while I prayed…to get to know God better…to look like a good Christian girl…to be able to check off another check-box on my to-do lists?
Knowing my “why” enabled me to keep marching forward. It helped keep my focus where it needed to be and tune out the condemning voices around me (even those in my own head).
My Alternative Fasting Methods
Below are a few of the alternative fasting methods God has given me over the years. Each one was for a time and a purpose. As my body needs changed God met me where I was at and showed me a different fasting alternative.
The No Snacks Fast
Sounds easy enough, right? It wasn’t for me. It was actually a struggle and might have been harder for me than if I had gone without food. I had a bad habit of eating like a bird; small portions all throughout the day.
For this type of fast, I forced myself to eat a “normal” meal with my family. I picked a period of time to fast; 24 hours, 3 days, 7 days and stuck with it. I didn’t overthink it, just went with whatever felt right at the time I needed to fast.
When I felt the urge to graze outside of mealtimes, I grabbed my Bible and spent time with God instead.
Fasting From The Hours of 9 am to 3 pm
This type of fast was what I followed for years. I have heard this called a Jewish fast but I am not sure if that is an accurate name or not. I’ve also heard variations of this such as fasting sun up to sun down or from after breakfast until dinner time (which can be a different time for everyone depending on your schedule).
During this fast, I had breakfast well before 9 am and drank water all day long. At noon I had juice and broth. Between the hours of 9-3, I spent much of my time and focus on God. I would eat a light snack at 3 pm and have a normal dinner with my family that evening.
No Preaching or Teaching Other Than Bible (And My Pastor)
Although this could be for any period of time, typically, I chose this type of fast for 40 days at a time. Like the others, it wasn’t easy. I would have friends send me messages like, “Hey, I found this great teaching on such and such. You should check it out!!” and I couldn’t. I wouldn’t explain myself (Matthew 6:18) but would tell them that I have made a note of it and as soon as I could I would check it out. I was careful to follow through (Matthew 5:37).
I still attended church so I did hear my Pastor’s teaching. Mike and I still had our regular Bible discussions about what we were reading and learning. But those were the only “outside” influences I would allow.
The purpose of this type of fast was because I was being bombarded with voices from every side. Many of them were good, godly voices. However, a fair number of them were contradicting each other and confusion took root. Although not exclusively, I read or listened to something Christian (radio, blogs, TV, YouTube, friends) every moment of every day. I was finding that I was having trouble hearing my Lord’s voice through all the noise. This type of fasting cleaned out the clutter.
Fasting From All Electronic Entertainment
I was a bit shocked to realize that I have read my Kindle every single night for over 10 years. I am pretty sure my body forgot how to go to sleep without that Kindle in my hands. When my health issues first prevented me from fasting food, this was the direction I chose to take.
It wasn’t that big of a hardship for me to give up the TV, radio, social media, phone or laptop. But to give up my Kindle was a true sacrifice of love. And isn’t that what pleases God? I don’t think He would have thought much of my giving up the TV when it wasn’t something that drew my time or attention.
I had to relearn how to spend time with God in the quiet and darkness of the night without falling asleep on him. After a while, I noticed that the nights fasting my Kindle were the best nights sleep!
No Processed Foods
This type of fast was my physicians favorite. In fact, she began to implement this into her own life as she also had health issues but desired to biblically fast.
This wasn’t a Daniel-type of fast. I had dietary restrictions I had to be conscious of so the Daniel fast didn’t work for me.
I allowed myself to eat 3 meals a day but the food was food God created, not man. We didn’t get knit-picky about it and examine every ingredient we used. It meant things like not running through the drive-thru for a quick breakfast sandwich but putting one together with homemade bread, eggs, and a meat of some sort. Or an egg salad sandwich on the run. Lunch was usually a salad and dinner was a salad and some type of meat.
In between meal times, I cleared my schedule and spent as much time reading, studying, and praying as I was able.
No Extra Sugar
Sugar is my drug of choice and my worst enemy. For me to give up sugar for a period of time was truly another fast from my heart. This is very similar to the “no snacks” fast but during this fast, I could snack on carrots, celery, fruit, etc. If I made something that had sugar in it (like homemade bread), that was fine but no muffins drizzled in icing or sweet tea.
As the sugar cravings kicked in, I took it as an opportunity to spend time with God.
It’s About Obedience Not Sacrifice
God wants your obedience, not your sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22). It doesn’t matter to him what you fast. What matters to him is that you are willing to make the effort to set aside something you desire in the flesh for something only he can give you.
Not All Fasting Is Created Equal
There are a few things I think are important to note.
1. Because it is God’s way, fasting, in general, has many health benefits. Like I did, you will probably lose weight and feel better when you begin to put God before your pleasures. But that isn’t the purpose for a biblical fast. If your goal isn’t to draw closer to God but to lose weight and feel better, you might want to look into intermittent fasting instead.
2. Biblical fasting opens up the doors of heaven and you will be blessed. But don’t let your focus be on what you get. Instead, stay focused on how you can bless God during your fast. How you can spend time with him, learning about him, learning from him…those things bless God greatly! Let your blessings, even your healing, be a by-product of your obedience and time spent with your Savior.
3. When we seek God about something specific during a fast, sometimes our answers are a bit delayed (Daniel 10:12). Don’t let yourself always jump to the conclusion that God doesn’t love you as much as he does someone else, or his answer is no, or…you all know where your mind goes. Accept that delayed answers happen but keep your focus on God where it needs to be.
What I have found in my own fasting journey is that if I am praying about something specific, it doesn’t usually happen immediately but over time (maybe as my faith grows or maybe like Daniel it is a result of Satanic activity).
4. During a biblical fast be mindful of what you say and how you say it because it will make a difference.
My Recent Fast Brought About A Healing
Keeping the above four things in mind, I’d like to share with you about the healing I received recently.
Last year I stubbed my foot. A few days into this injury I realized it was more than a sore toe. The pain was nasty and I suspected I broke something. I didn’t go to the doctor because I figured there was nothing they could do except tape it, which I could do myself. Some days the pain was so bad I could hardly walk.
I would pray and fast for the pain to decrease. And it did almost every time. However, the pain always came back. One day during prayer, it dawned on me that I had been getting exactly what I prayed for…not that God would heal my foot but that the pain would decrease so I could get things done!
Changing my thinking, I began to fast and pray for healing. During this fast, I felt in my spirit that my foot had been healed. I just knew that I knew. The pain didn’t go away immediately but became bearable for longer periods of time.
Not long after this, I found I was in pain again but in a different part of the same foot. I didn’t understand it because I had been praying “correctly” this time. And I just knew that I had received God’s healing!
Boy was the Enemy working hard to convince me that God healing my broken foot was all in my head and not real!
Finally, I went to a podiatrist. I found out that I had indeed broken a few toes and tore some ligaments…but they were healed! It turned out that the new pain was a separate issue that had nothing to do with breaking my toes or tearing the ligaments! Satan was a liar trying to trick me out of my healing!
I fully believe that if I would have given in and spoken about how I didn’t receive my healing the findings at the doctor would have been different. Yes, I believe that the power of the spoken word is that strong.
Your Weakness, His Strength
God says fasting is for all who desire to draw closer to him. A “proper” biblical fast is anything that allows you to replace what you want for a chance to draw closer to God. It is that simple. God doesn’t expect our life to be perfect and that includes our bodies.
Why? Because our weakness allows his strength and power to shine in our lives (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). He wants us, weaknesses and all.
Let Holy Spirit Speak To Your Soul
If one of the fasting methods I used speaks to your soul, pray about it. Each of our bodies is different and so are our health issues. God might have you modify your fast to suit your individual situation. In the end, it might not look like mine (or anyone else’s). If so, I encourage you to go with it and believe that if you aren’t doing it in a way that is “right” for you, Holy Spirit will bring it to your attention and show you how to do it differently.
What About You?
What method of fasting has God given you? Is it similar or different from what he has given me? Comment below, I’d love to hear about it!