Step #1 – Why Do You Fast?
To a Christian, a fast is as important as prayer. Fasting is effective because it is accompanied by prayer. We pray by faith, so both fasting and prayer are by faith in God. The details stated here are for a traditional short fast, one to three days, total abstinence fast i.e., no food or drinks. The details for long fast will be covered separately. Please do not chewing gum during your fast.
Identify the reason or purpose for your fast. The objective of your Christian fast needs to be very clear to concentrate your prayers towards it. It is good to fast for good health but better if your prayers are directed to a specific object. For example, your fast would be more effective if you identify a body part, say a swollen ankle and fast about that. A fast about any medical problem – in my view – does not prevent anyone from seeking and obtaining professional medical advice. Be sensible about life folks. When one of the King’s Captains wanted to destroy all Jews in the land Queen Esther declared a three days, three nights fast for God to prevent their destruction, (Esther 4:16). They fasted about it. Fast about one main thing but pray about everything. So all the Jews were fasting for this one thing. They fasted and prayed and God helped them. They were focused. Every Christian fast should be like wise, focused and purposeful.
Step #2 – Decide on Length of Fast
“Fast – True Meaning of Fasting“, explains what a fast is all about. A fast is any duration within which someone abstains from food, drinks, and gets closer to God by seeking Him in prayer and studying His Word. If you are going on a personal fast, you decide when to start and stop your fast. On one occasion, King David fasted “all night” for God to keep his son alive, 2 Samuel 12:16-23. Similarly, the entire Jewish nation (Israel) fasted “until evening” to observe the death of King Saul and his son Jonathan and many others, 2 Samuel 1:12.
Institutional fast, like that of a local congregation, usually has an established commencement and termination time for regular fasts. For some, it is from sunrise to sun set; for others fasting maybe morning to evening; still, for others it maybe morning to morning, say, from Monday morning to Tuesday morning. I tend to practice this last one. However you go about it, establish how long you are going to fast before starting the fast and stick to it.
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Step #3 – Start Fast With Prayer and Reading Scriptures
How you start, your fast is an important consideration to bear in mind. Start your fast with prayer and Bible reading. Seeing, your desire is for God to find your fast acceptable (Isaiah 58:5)to Him spend time with Him. Spending time with God does not necessarily mean you isolate yourself from others. This is ideal but not required. If your situations and circumstances allow you to separate yourself while fasting, go right ahead. On the other hand, if you cannot, make the most of what you have.
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Step #4 – Pray Pray Pray During Fast
God is a Spirit (John 4:24); in communing with God use your spirit, use your thoughts. One does not need to make audible sounds to pray. If you do not know how to pray there is hope. Read, “How to Pray: The Seven Steps of a Christian Prayer” here on this site.
You do not even need to open your mouth. Pray with your spirit while sitting and working at your desk. If you work outside pray as you work. As you walk, pray. Pray as you travel to get something: a report, newspaper, a file, or a tool – pray. Are you going to the rest room? As you walk, pray! Associate different tasks with prayer and as you perform those tasks, pray.
Use every opportunity to pray with your spirit or audibly. Not aloud, but so you can hear yourself pray. Hearing yourself pray the Word of God gives you faith in Him, Romans 10:17. If not, continue to pray internally until you can pray audibly, and then do so. However, by then you would have prayed many, many times.
Your external state should not determine your internal condition. Therefore, you can even pray in a crowd or a noisy place. You maybe busy outside but quite and still on the inside. Alternatively, you maybe quite and still on the outside but busy praying on the inside. A Christian fast is not even considered a fast without prayer. Every single incident of fasting in the Scriptures is done with prayers. Daniel wanted to understand the Scriptures he did so with “prayer and supplication with fasting”, (Daniel 9:3).
Focus your prayers towards your fast objective from step one; however, pray about everything. Pray for the success of your fast, and for new and divine insight concerning your fast objective. Pray about the thing you are fasting about.
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Step #5 – Read, Read the Word of God During Fast
The same principle for Step # 4 applies here. Find time to read the Word of God. I strongly recommend that you read Scriptures directly relating to your fast objective from step one. Therefore, pray about what you are fasting about, and read relevant Scriptures about what you are fasting about. For example, if your fast is about recovering from sickness and disease, find many Bible verses about this, and read, memorize, and meditate on them. The LORD God may choose to give the solution to your fast objective through Scriptures. You never know.
However, if you cannot follow this procedure for one reason or the other, here are some equivalent alternatives. Recite Scriptures to yourself from memory. I hope you have been memorizing Scriptures! This will only work if you have (2 Timothy 2:15; Colossians 3:16). In today’s world of high tech gadgets like smart phones, PDAs and IPads your choices are numerous. If you don’t have, a Bible read Scriptures from the web via your phone or computer or downloads it to your phone and read. Maybe you own an Amazon kindle, read it on your kindle. If you don’t own a kindle, yet buy one. They are very affordable, two main sizes, reliable and convenient. Here is a link, purchase your Kindle.
If you are unable to read then listen to the Bible. You may listen from your phone or computer as you work. If this is not prohibited by your job, do so but use earphones. Never sneak off from your job to pray or read the Word. Give to your employer what belongs to him and to God what’s God’s (Matthew 22:21). Nevertheless, throughout the duration of your fast use every legal (if you are on the job) opportunity to pray and listen or read the Word of God. Do optimize every chance for prayer and Bible reading. Learn how to fast according to Scriptures.
Step #6 – No One Should Know You Are on a Fast
No one should know you are on a fast. Not by physical appearance or by speech. Do not tell others who are not remotely connected to your fast about it. A group fast is different. But your fast is between you and God, Matthew 6:18. In the Old Testament Scriptures fast accompanied repentance (for us too) but it was a public affair. People had ashes, earth, and “sackcloth” on their person or they sat in it, in public so everyone would know. Jesus the greatest Master teacher changed that. It is not public anymore but private. See, “Jesus Teaches – Your Fast is Between You And Your God” for more details. Please perform all your work related tasks as usual. Don’t be watching the time. Do not be exact with your labour, (Isaiah 58:3).
Step #7 – Breaking The Fast
Break you fast with prayer and reading the Scriptures. Many Believers hurt themselves breaking the fast. Be careful. Although this is a one-day or twelve hour fast, your stomach has shrunken. It is much smaller than ordinary because you have not been eating or drinking. Many Believers break their fast with a cup of tea, or a glass of water or natural fruit juice. The decision is yours. However, avoid these types of food: anything with pepper, ripe bananas, food or drinks at extreme temperatures, (hot or cold) and dairy products. Drink room temperature or slightly warm fluids. Avoid very acidic drinks like orange juice (OJ). If you are going to have OJ dilute it with water. Avoid lemonade and tough and hard food. Eat food that will not be too hard on a sensitive stomach. The lining of your stomach is now very sensitive or raw form the work of gastric juices but no food.
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Step #8 – After The Fast
Finally, after the fast: Eat small servings and drink small amounts for your stomach is still smaller. However, eat and drink frequently. An important guide: the duration of the fast is the same length of time before you resume regular eating and drinking. Therefore, if your fast was for three days it should be three days before you start eating hard food. Have lots of broth, soups, porridge like cornmeal, oats, cream of wheat etc. Fruits juices, salads, fresh soft and sweet fruits like, grapes, strawberries, oranges and lots of water. For those in tropical countries sugar cane is very good for this. When was the last time you fast? The benefits are enormous think about it!! Repeat steps one to eight the next time you go on a fast. Happy fasting!!
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UPDATE:- I recently wrote “How to do a Long Fast.” You may have thought about doing a long fast. Read this Bible Study to learn more about a long fast.
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- A Fast “is the most powerful spiritual discipline of all the Christian disciplines.”