Table of Contents – Fasting
- Nuts and Bolts of a Fast
- Fast Duration
- Fast Goal
- Begin the Fast
- During the Fast
- End your Fast
- After the Fast
- Christian Fast & the World
Nuts & Bolts of Fasting
Christian fasting is different from all other forms of fasting. It differs in perspective, activities, purpose and result. Therefore, when I talk about fasting, I’m referring to the Christian fast or the biblical fast.
The name itself is somewhat of a misnomer. Its practices and procedures actually have their origin in Judaism. No surprise here, for Jews started Christianity. Moreover, it revolves around a Jewish leader—Jesus Christ.
Nevertheless, the execution of our contemporary Christian fast borrows from our Jewish predecessors, like Moses, David, Daniel and so many more before.
Consequently, I will employ seven steps to describe the activities we execute as we undertake a fast.
1). Before the Fast – Fasting Preparations
Today, there is much noise about prior physical preparation of fasting. To reduce the onset and the intensity of hunger pains and being able to deal with them, we are oftentimes, encouraged to perform various tasks before fasting. These include but are not limiting to:
- Drink lots of fluids, including water and fruit juices.
- Gradually reduce the portion of each meal as the fast day approaches.
- Consume less bulky food and focus more on fresh fruits, vegetables, and juices.
- Eat softer foods.
- And the this list goes on…..
On the one hand, this is great advice. And as you fast, if you feel so inclined to adopt any of those fasting tips feel free. There is no harm in following them.
On the other hand, is prior physical preparation required for fasting? I’m no nutritionist nor am I a MD, but speaking from personal experience it does nothing for you during a Christian fast.
After the first twenty-four hours of your, say, three days and three nights fast, all your efforts to prepare for the fast is consumed by your body already. Mentally, however, you need to prepare yourself for the task of fasting.
There is no doubts that a fast, which is twenty-four hours or less, requires no physical preparations before-hand.
Which Bible-character prepared before fasting? Did Moses, Daniel, Job, David, Esther, Jesus or Paul made any prior physical preparations for fasting? No! None of them did.
2). Fasting Duration
Seeing that the Bible is silent on how long to fast, you must decide on the duration of your fast. Even when it does not explicitly inform us of a fast-duration it does so implicitly.
It provides a spectrum of fast durations. This ranges from an evening, overnight, twelve hours, a day, three-day and three nights, seven days and seven nights, fourteen days, twenty-one days, to forty days and forty nights.
These are our examples: choose one. Adopt the one that best suits your physical and spiritual needs.
If you are “newbie” to fasting, start with the shortest time segment. Do twelve hours then gradually increase it as your confidence, knowledge, and fasting skills improve.
3). Fasting Goal
You should never engage in a fast unless the fasting-goal or goals are clear. It’s not unheard of to have goals for a fast, but most should have a single well-defined objective for the fast duration (Nehemiah 1:2-3, 11; Esther 4:16 & 1 Samuel 1:20).
An effective fast is focused. This is when you approach God and heaven to realize the fasting objective. Direct all your efforts towards that one goal. Focus you prayers towards it. Read scriptures relating to it. Meditate on it.
Fasting goals evolve. When I was about seventeen, one of my fasting goals: stop chasing girls. Say, thirty years later, if I were still fasting about that I certainly wouldn’t be writing about how to do a Christian fast now. Over time, all that I have fasted for I have attained. Fasting works! However, for Believers it must be biblical.
4). Begin your Fast
Having decided on the fast-duration and on the fasting goal, begin your fast. The constituents of every Christian fast must by definition include at least the seven features listed below.
5). While Fasting:-
c). A time to mourn
6). End Your Fast
End your fasting at the time you decided before you began your fast. Not before. Exercise great care and sound judgment in breaking your fast.
Many Believers do more damage to themselves breaking the fasting than at any other time. If your fasting was for twelve hours your body may not have been through any significant changes.
However, for fasts longer that twenty-four hours approach them with wisdom and caution. Your body has changed. No eating or drinking after that time takes a toll on your body. Your stomach has started to shrink. And it has become more sensitive to spicy and acidic foods.
Many Caribbean people, I know, this writer included, utilize warm tea to break our fast. A small cup of natural peppermint sweetened with a teaspoonful or two of honey works wonders.
How to break your fast
I have also discovered, through my love for this plant that it is very helpful in breaking a fast. The sugar-cane. Eat one or two “joints” of it and they will work magic.
Similarly, the water from the green coconut, or “Jelly-water” as it’s locally know in my home country, Jamaica, West Indies, is equally as effective in breaking your fast. Drink a glass of it and it will re-energize your body. This will break your fasting.
Avoid orange juice, ripe bananas (yellow bananas) and pineapple juice. The orange juice that you make a home is OK, but the OJ that you purchase in the supermarkets are not. Avoid them. These are harsh on the stomach and too acidic.
However, if you are unable to source any of those foods, make us of what you have. Any soft fruit is good. Pawpaw or papaya are wonderful. So too are naseberries or sapodillas and most ripe mangoes.
Any tea, porridge, soup, broth, fruit juice, or drink, or plain old-water is ok, as long as, it’s not hard on the sensitive stomach.
Despite the foods or fluids you use to break your fast, consume small portions.
As soon as you eat or drink any food or fluid respectively, you break the fast.
7). After the Fast
After you have broken your fast, utilize the following rule-of-thumb to return to eating your natural and regular diet: the duration of your fast is the time you should take to return to your natural diet.
Therefore, if you fasted for three days gradually return to your regular diet in three days. If it’s for two days, then in two and similarly for one, in one.
Christian Fasting and the World
The world doesn’t understand how to do a Christian fast and it never will. Jesus gave no direct commandment to the church to fast. The Bible, on a whole, provides no direct instruction to the Church to fast either.
But they are not silent on the topic. This doesn’t mean that the Lord left this most important Christian discipline in the dark. Far from it! But even if you are searching for something and you are ignorant of what you looking for, it could be right in front of your eyes and you would be no wiser of it.
The Christians are the only religious group confused about fasting. The Muslims don’t entertain any doubts about what to do or not to do during fasting and the Jews are very clear about their similar rituals.
As it is in the natural so is it in the spiritual. Jesus explained a similar situation to his disciples. When they questioned him concerning his motivation for teaching the people using parables, his reply is stunning but informative. He told them he taught the people with parables for the disciples’ sake.
“And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?” (Matthew 13:10).
“He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given,” (Matthew 13:11).
The similar principle applies to fasting. Seeing that Jesus’ disciples had to search the scriptures to know and to understand the “mysteries of the kingdom of heaven”, we must do a similar thing to learn of the power and reward fasting furnishes the Believer.
Conclusion – Fasting
A Christian fast is not for everyone. It’s only for Believers. Consequently, we cannot fast as we desire, for the Lord God, through His Words, the Bible, instructs us how to fast.
Conversely, the world could fast however it chooses. It is accountable only to itself. On the other hand, the Church must obey the Lord, to be effective even in fasting.
The ultimate benefit of a Christian fast is not physical but spiritual. However, we do benefit naturally from it. The world is just realizing this but fasting has always positively impacts the Christian’s life.
Anybody could do their research and write about fasting. And there are many writers who have never done a fast and they are writing about it.
Similarly, many neither fast nor are they Christians and should they teach you how to fast as Believers?
The world is constantly changing. How it conducts its fasting is also evolving, but our fasting is according to the Word of God. It never change.
It is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Our fasting should reflect the Word of God.
Share, with us, how you fast in the comments below. Have a successful and result-filled fast.