During the month of January, I usually do a corporate fast with my church to clarify my mind and get in tuned with the direction and focus I need to have to promote a successful year. Ever since I understood the benefits of fasting, I started to fast regularly and consistently to stay in tune for spiritual direction, healing, guidance and intercession. Even though I’ve been fasting for years, it was a process to get to the level I am now. Honestly, since I’m such a foodie, it’s hard to deny myself a mouth-watering steak at times. But when you are going through life struggles….you do what you have to do.
1. Fasting Is For You Not For God
I recently got the revelation that fasting isn’t a tool to persuade God to answer my prayers. Instead, fasting is a spiritual and physical exercise that helps me to clear life’s clutter, so I can hear more clearly from God. God doesn’t need to be provoked before He answers our prayers. His love and grace for us is enough provocation.
“And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.” Romans 11:6 (NKJV)
If our purpose for doing something is so God can bless us more, than that’s not considered grace. Grace can only function in an atmosphere of unworthiness. However, that doesn’t give us a right to be lawless and ratched. We demonstrate certain works to care for our neighbors and ourselves. It’s much easier for us to live harmoniously together in a state free from perpetual bondage when we don’t steal, kill, lie, lust, envy, etc.
2. Define the Purpose of Your Fast
Before you start fasting, it’s imperative that you figure out why you’re fasting in the first place.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish” Proverbs 29:18 (KJV)
Do you need clarification on which major to choose? Or which job offer to accept? Or whether this particular guy is the one you should court? Knowing why you want to fast will help you stay focused when your stomach starts talking to you in all kind of ways during the fast. Lol.
3. Choose the Right Type of Fast For You
Not all fast are created equal, but they are designed to capture the same result, spiritual connectedness. There are different types of fast at different durations. There is the popular Daniel’s fast which generally lasts 21 days where only fruits, vegetables and legumes are consumed. There is a liquid fast where only water and limited juices are consumed. There are periodic fasts where only one or two meals are skipped during the day and the person breaks in the evening for dinner. Some fasts last 3 days and some 40 days. It depends on your level of spiritual endurance. Therefore, if you are a beginner, I would suggest starting off gradually with a 1 or 3 day fast to build up your endurance. Fasting for 40 days can be overwhelming for someone who has never fasted before.
When I was studying for the Bar, I couldn’t do my regular liquid fast, because I kept falling asleep in the library. Studying volumes of case law was mentally draining! Instead, I fasted from sugar, because I usually indulged in sweets. I knew that type of fast would give me the necessary foundation of self-denial I needed to stay focused. To be honest, that was one of the most challenging fast I undertook, because so many foods had some form of processed sugar. My diet was restricted. Don’t deny the effects of the different types of fast.
4. Don’t Forget to Pray and Read the Bible
Believe it or not, I sometimes forget pray and read my Bible during the day when I’m at work. It’s easy to forget if you have a busy schedule. While you’re fasting, try to limit your activities to create more time to focus on connecting with God. The prayers don’t have to be super long and they don’t have to be spoken out loud. I often pray at my work desk without my colleagues knowing. As long as God hears my heart, that’s all that matters.
5. Keep Up With Your Appearance
For some reason, some Christians believe it’s more pious to look homely while you’re fasting. I don’t get that and Jesus doesn’t either.
“And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. V. 17 But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. V. 18 Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” (Matthew 6: 16-18)
If our life is a reflection of God’s goodness and glory, how would we inspire someone to get to know Jesus if we look homeless (true talk), because we trying to connect more with Him? Please wash your face and put on some perfume, the kingdom of God needs you to still look fabulous!
6. Be Aware of the Physical Changes
Fasting has twofold benefits. It is great physical practice, as much as, it is spiritual. Because your digestive system is on hiatus from over working itself to process a lot of the junk we put in our bodies, it has a chance to detox. Those impurities will now try to escape our bodies in various ways, increased acne, bad breathe, more sweat, weight loss, etc. Make sure to drink plenty of water to continue to flush out your system properly. You’ll be surprised how much energy you have after fasting, because your body was able to repair itself.
7. Remember to Sleep Early
I think I’m speaking to myself on this one. If you’re used to sleeping late most nights, please do yourself a favor and practice going to bed early while you’re fasting. It will prevent you from falling asleep at your desk with drool and all. True story.