A Biblical Explanation of Fasting
From the beginning, people have pursued God. They wrongly built the tower of Babel to reach Him (see Gen. 11:1-9). They rebelliously carved images to please God. They arrogantly conceived and lived by legalistic laws to impress God. They constructed monasteries and isolated themselves to please God. They even fasted wrongly in an attempt to divert His attention from other things they should have been doing, but were neglecting.
Fasting is best described as “the deliberate abstinence from food (and sometimes drink) for an extended period of time. While the motivation for fasting varies the focus is consistent: it is a means by which we can worship the Lord and submit ourselves in humility to Him. We don’t make God love us any more than He already does if we fast, or if we fast longer. As Galatians states, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage” (5:1). The goal of any discipline is freedom. If the result is not greater freedom, something is wrong.
One of the greatest spiritual benefits of fasting is becoming more attentive to God-becoming more aware of our own inadequacies and His adequacy, our own contingencies and His self-sufficiency-and listening to what He wants us to be and do. Christian fasting focuses on God. The results are spiritual results that glorify God-both in the person who fasts and others for whom we fast and pray.
In Isaiah 58, God says He has chosen fasts that (1) loosen the bonds of wickedness, (2) undo heavy burdens, (3) let the oppressed go free, (4) break every yoke, (5) give bread to the hungry and provide the poor with housing, (6) allow the people’s light to break forth like the morning, (7) cause their health to spring forth speedily, (8) cause their righteousness to go before them and (9) cause the glory of the Lord to be their reward (or “rear guard”).
The Daniel Fast
The Daniel Fast is a biblically based partial fast. There are two anchoring scriptures for the Daniel Fast. In Daniel 1 the Prophet ate only vegetables (that would have included fruits) and drank only water. In Daniel 10 we read that the Prophet ate no meat nor any breads or foods and he drank no wine for 21 days.
So from these scriptures we get three guidelines for the fast:
- Only fruits and vegetables
- Only water for a beverage
- No sweeteners and no breads
How to Prepare for the Daniel Fast
Quiet Time: Starting your day with God is a habit that will support your faith and growing intimacy with the Lord. During your Daniel Fast, be sure to set a daily time to come before the Lord, to study His Word and His ways.
Start with a clear personal goal in addition to our corporate goals. Be specific. Why are you fasting? Do you need direction, healing, restoration of marriage or family issues? Are you facing financial difficulties? Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance. Pray daily and read the Bible.
Prepare spiritually by confessing your sins to God. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal areas of weakness. Forgive all who have offended you and ask forgiveness from those you may have offended (Mark 11:25; Luke 11:4; 17:3-4). Surrender your life fully to Jesus Christ and reject the worldly desires that try to hinder you (Romans 12:1-2)
What to Expect during the Fast:
When you fast your body detoxifies, eliminating toxins from your system. This can cause mild discomfort such as headaches and irritability during withdrawal from caffeine and sugars. And naturally, you will have hunger pains. Limit your activity and exercise moderately. Take time to rest. Fasting brings about miraculous results. You are following Jesus’ example when you fast. Spend time listening to praise and worship. Pray as often as you can throughout the day. Get away from the normal distractions as much as possible and keep your heart and mind set on seeking God’s face.
When You Fast:
- Expect to get to know God better
- Fasting is waiting (Lamentations 3:25-27)
- Fasting is drawing near (Jeremiah 29:11-13
- As you demonstrate sincerity to God, you can expect to:
- Develop strength in your inner character
- Discover power to leave sinful habits (2 Corinthians 7:1)
- Find power to stay focused in prayers
- Experience a greater desire for God’s presence
- Expect the hand of God to move to answer prayer
- Expect resistance for the devil
- Expect your prayers to go to a higher level
How to succeed in fasting:
- Fast with friends (Matthew 18:19)
- Fast with a purpose
- Set a start and end date
- Determine you will follow through
- Fast unselfishly (Isaiah 58:1-11)
- Spend time with God
FASTING DOESN’T WORK IF YOU DON’T PRAY!
Scripture References For Fasting:
- Matthew 6:16-18
- Matthew 9:14-15
- Luke 18:9-14
- Isaiah 58:3-12
- Daniel 1:8-16
- Daniel 10:1-2