So far in this 4-part series on fasting, we have learned that fasting is a very personal part of our life as a Christian. God doesn’t demand it of us. He gives fasting to us as a gift that we have to determine in our hearts and minds to step forward and accept.
It doesn’t matter if you have been fasting for years or if you just decided to begin fasting. I can promise you fasting is not easy. It’s a struggle to push down the flesh because it goes against our nature. But we don’t have to make fasting harder on ourselves than it is either. We have the Holy Spirit who, when asked, won’t hesitate to step in to help us. If we want to do more than diet, we need to trust God and turn to him every baby step of every fast.
In part 1, we learned the basics of fasting. If you have not read that post, you can read it by clicking here. In part 2, we learned about many of the Biblical fasts God has given us as our examples. You can read about those Biblical examples here. In part 3, I shared tips to help you with your fast. If you have not read that post, you can do so here.
It Was Time To Learn & Grow
For me, the concept of fasting was new and very odd. The only thing I knew about fasting as a child was that we fasted something, usually, meat and chocolate, for lent every year. For some reason I will never understand, we took the lack of meat way more serious than the lack of chocolate.
After giving my life to Christ, God brought a badly needed friend into my life. We were both baby Christians and eager to learn how to make “it” work to be good Christian momma’s. During one of our conversations, we decided to try fasting while our husbands were at work. It’s been over 25 years and I still remember that first fast was torture.
We didn’t prepare in any way. Instead of spending time with God during our fasts, we would be on the phone complaining and giggle about how hungry we were while planning our post-fast meal in detail. When the fast ended, we met to celebrate with hot fudge sundaes and lots of patting each other on the back for making it through. Because we didn’t know any better, our focus was completely on the food and not on God.
As we went along, we really did try to find out more about fasting. We weren’t super Christians or in the ministry, just ordinary people wanting to do the right thing. Fasting was HARD and took a lot of effort away from our “real” duties as wives and mommas. Surely God intended fasting to be for those who did something terrible that they needed to do some serious repenting for. Not us, right?
Oddly enough, it seemed like fasting was this big secret nobody wanted to talk about. It bothered me that the church spoke more about giving than they did fasting. Both were things God expected of his children. One was mentioned in every service while the other barely managed a passing comment. If I asked someone about fasting they would clam up. What was the deal? These were folks we considered super-Christians. They had to know more than we did!
I was pretty confused. Keep in mind this was before the popularity of the internet where anything and everything can be instantly researched. I finally reached a point that I wanted to know what God (not the church or man) thought of fasting. If it didn’t matter to God, I was not doing it. God had given me all I needed to learn about fasting; a brain, a notebook, a Bible, and the Holy Spirit who promised to teach me.
I decided if fasting really was important God would have something to say about it. To my surprise, he did; fasting and prayer are very prevalent in the entire Bible. Some things I learned felt like they finally made sense. However, some of the things I heard (like fasting should start at this time and end at that time, you can only eat this and not that, or a fast that is not a complete fast is just a waste of time), I could not find a basis for in the Bible no matter how much I searched so those ideas got tossed out of the window.
What Works For Me
Please keep in mind what you read below is what works for me. As you pray and fast, you will develop your own tips that work for you. Although Biblical fasting has become a lifestyle for me, please remember, I am certainly no expert. I take it day by day and trust the Holy Spirit to teach me just as I encourage you to do.
Before My Fasts
1. I make a list in my fasting and prayer journal about what I feel led to fast for. Then I meditate on it asking God what (if anything) on my list I should fast for.
2. I shop for anything I might need for my fast. I know myself well enough to know I can’t step a foot into a grocery store (or the gas station, or a carry-out, or anywhere that has my trigger foods) while fasting so I have to take care of shopping beforehand or I go without.
3. It helps if all food is put away and nothing is left in eyesight during my fast. If I can’t put it away, I throw a towel over it. That helps me tremendously.
4. I am unable to think about food while fasting so I either preplan dinner so that everything can be quickly thrown together after ending my fast or my husband might cook or grab us take-out. The point is I either pre-plan dinner or we eat instant Chinese noodles. 😉
During My Fasts
1. I spend a good part of my fast with my prayer and fasting journal recording what I am praying about. It helps me to have a prayer focus so that my mind wanders less. If I get sidetracked, the journal isn’t far from my sight and it reminds me to get back on track.
I also record what God speaks to me during the fast and his answered prayers. It’s not needed but I know that in many places in the Bible God tells his people to write down what he has done. I practice this. When I look back on the detailed accounts of God answering prayer it helps my faith tremendously. The bad days always get better when I can see his many blessings.
As much as I promise myself I won’t forget God’s miracles, I do. Getting the chance to read over God’s faithfulness is like getting blessed twice. I highly recommend it!
2. I find that if I don’t put myself on a schedule, I lose track of time and forget to read God’s Word. I choose not to use a devotional while fasting. I’m sure there is nothing wrong with it. But for me, I just want it to be me, God, his Word, and my journal.
3. When hunger hits, I do my best to turn to God for my comfort and help. I grab a big glass of water, hunker down and use that moment to dig in with my prayers and praise. I still do this while around others. I can sing praise and worship songs in my thoughts. Since God knows our every thought, there is no reason to think he would disregard that type of worship just because it isn’t out loud.
4. I normally drink water with flavor packets in it but when I fast I find I only want plain water. However, if I have been feeling poorly I might drink a Propel or a Gatorade but not usually.
5. I begin my fast with praise and worship music but that is the only “outside influence” I allow myself. Living in the country without close neighbors, I tend to listen to music fairly loud and usually on repeat. Yes, you might just find me walking around my house with arms raised praising God for all that he has blessed me with. I have my morning caffeine and a box of tissues at hand during this time. It is not unusual during my praise and worship time that God will impress something on me, more so than any other time during a fast. As mentioned, I always try to record this in my prayer and fasting journal.
6. Since my job is my blog ministry, I spend a good part of my time writing blog posts or working on the endless behind the scenes website details. Life doesn’t stop and this is my job just as if I worked outside of the home.
7. I deal with a few medical issues so I can’t go without food for long without getting sick. I typically start my fast one night after dinner and continue through to the next day ending my fast before dinner. If I do a multi-day fast, I stop for dinner then begin again right after.
Because I start most fasts after dinner, I don’t have anything but water when I begin. The next day for breakfast, I start with a glass of 50/50 juice and water plus a cup of broth; the same for lunch. I stick to this schedule and drink water between my “meal” times.
Ending My Fasts
I end my fasts with a time of praise and reading my Bible. Then I will eat anything I can grab quickly like a granola bar or a piece of fruit. Or a cookie if no one is around. 🙂 I then like to have a nice meal with my husband. Over the next few days after a fast, it’s not unusual for me to grab my prayer and fasting journal to record more blessings that result from my fast. God never fails me!
Testimonies of My Fasts
I thought I would return God’s blessings and share with you a few of my fasts. Remember that each fast is different and no two will ever be identical. Please take my examples below for what they are.
The German Chocolate Cake Incident
One day I was fasting and needed to prepare my husband’s lunch for work. Without thinking, I took a bite of the German chocolate cake as I was packing. Immediately, the Holy Spirit brought to mind the fact that I was fasting. Quick as that I turned to the trashcan and spit it out. Yes, I was tempted to just swallow it but I didn’t.
Did that make my fast a failure? Absolutely not. I apologized to God for acting on autopilot and asked for his renewed strength because now that I had a taste of that cake, I really wanted cake! Instead, I grabbed a towel to throw over the remaining cake, clutched my glass of water and scurried out of the kitchen and away from temptation.
How do I know it was God encouraging me to get back to my fast and get rid of the cake? Because spitting out that cake was not a thought that I would naturally have. In case you have not noticed, I love sweets, especially cake. But I knew that voice and I knew I was making a decision far beyond what was in the physical.
This fast was the first one that Holy Spirit used to show me that He is present, paying attention, and he will help and/or correct me as I need it. If you think God doesn’t speak to us today, read on my friend.
Egg On My Face
On this particular fast, I had determined I would fast my usual time. But I woke up really, really hungry. As I was fixing my husband’s breakfast, my hunger increased. Without giving it much thought, I put 2 more eggs in the pan and told myself I would fast from 9am-3pm instead. I remember thinking God wouldn’t care as long as I was still fasting.
Suddenly I heard a voice in my head very clearly tell me “no“. “But God, I haven’t even started my fast yet. What are you doing listening and watching already?” (yep, I said that. Not my proudest moment.) “Your fast has begun.” “But God, I’m really hungry.” “Hungry for me or for the food?” “But God, I’ve already got it cooked. I don’t want to waste it” (cause you know, an egg is like, what, 10 cents a piece? I’m the person who has been known to leave half a steak on her plate but I was “worried” about 20 cents in eggs?). God must have thought my argument was silly too because he didn’t respond but I could feel him smiling. So I tried again. “But God…” “Give the food to the dog.” “But…” “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.”
I looked around and sure enough, my dog had gotten out of bed early and was sitting at my feet waiting for eggs that he had never tasted before. He has happily eaten eggs ever since. The ironic thing is, I didn’t even like eggs!
So yes, Holy Spirit is near. He doesn’t miss anything and cares about every detail of our life. He wasn’t angry with me but he wasn’t going to let me get away with something either. He didn’t care about the food. He cared about me. He expected me to stick with my word and not alter what I had told God I would do. God takes fasting and our promises very seriously.
My Battle For Peace
For years I was in a battle with anger, depression, and hopelessness. As so many do, I felt absolutely worthless. No matter how much I prayed, those demons seemed to be winning. I had no problem praying for others. My own anger and depression didn’t feel like a big enough deal to bother God with.
I honestly felt I was using my faith when those demons would rear their ugly heads. Each time I would fall into this emotional pit, I would be so sure that this time would be the last time those demons would sneak up on me. It was a horrible, confusing cycle. I felt like a loser and a fraud because I could not get past the attacks. And trust me, they were sneak attacks.
This went on for years. I got to the point that I stopped fasting and praying for the negative emotions to stay away. I knew God couldn’t be to blame so it had to be something I was doing. Around this time, God had been dealing with me about the power of our spoken word. I decided to do my best to speak what God said about things; to focus on his positive instead of my negative. I began to fast and pray for something other than the healing of those emotions. I decided to trust God to help me deal with the attacks and not to be so focused on them.
He began to show me others who were hiding these same vicious attacks that left them feeling unworthy. As I prayed for them instead of for myself, things began to change. The Holy Spirit began to show me that it wasn’t my battle to fight but his. I had to do my part by talking with him about what was bothering me, trusting him and giving everything to him. He showed me that I was to focus on others and trust myself to his mighty power. Up to that point, I figured God already knew my issues. I couldn’t understand dragging something to him he already knew about. I figured if he wanted to help me he would. If not, better luck next time.
During one of these battles, God gave me a dream of badly needing a shower. I was hot and filthy. The shower area was dark with the only light coming from the shower head itself. The floor was filthy. It was covered in dirty clothes, mud, feces, you name it. It was a sess-pool.
The shower was already running when I got to the shower room. I really needed a shower but I had to make a choice. I could stand in the stream of fresh water in the midst of the all the filth and be partially cleaned. It would be quick and easy. No one but me would ever know. Or I could take the time to sweep clean the filth and be cleaned head to toe. I chose to clean the shower room of the filth and get completely cleaned.
God broke me free from those crippling strongholds. It didn’t happen overnight but he went to battle for me. God always wins. I might still get upset or sad but the level of anger, depression and sheer hopelessness I use to experience have been thrown as far as the east is from the west. I can go back at any time and stand in my own sess pool if I want. But those strongholds are gone.
Some Final Thoughts
I don’t enjoy fasting, but I love it! I dislike the uncomfortable physical and emotional symptoms that rise up during a fast. But I dislike the constant struggling in my carnal mind even more. God has given me a mighty key for release from strongholds controlling my life. In the flesh, I am powerless against the weapons formed against me. Yes, I could use my self-control and “clean up my act” for a while but God is the only lasting answer. It’s up to me if I choose to use this key to open the door to God’s almighty power. He won’t force me. In the examples above, I still had a choice to obey Holy Spirit or not. God always gives us a choice.
I’m not a physician or medical professional of any kind. This information is based on my research and personal experience. Take responsibility for your own life. If you feel you need to see a doctor before fasting, do it. You know your body and health needs. If you feel you should fast things other than food, that’s between you and God.
I will not be the one to tell you what to do with your life, spiritual or physical. God has given each of us a free will. If God respects our free-will, we need to respect it in each other.
Has God been calling you to fast for a situation, person, or simply to draw closer to him? Give God the chance to show you his love in a way you may not have experienced before. Just remember, no matter what you decide to do in your walk with Christ, you do not walk alone. God is always, always, always at your side.
If you would like to read this series in order, they are as follows:
- Part 1, The foundation of fasting.
- Part 2, Types and Lengths of biblical fasts.
- Part 3, Tips for before, during, and after a fast.
- Part 4, A testimony of God’s blessings during my fasting journey.