FASTING

I’ve been reading Jim Martin’s blog about “Journaling As a Spiritual Discipline” (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4). I like his thoughts on journaling and on spiritual disciplines.

We don’t do a lot of talking on “spiritual disciplines.” And one spiritual discipline that doesn’t get much attention is fasting.

The purpose of a dedicated period of prayer and fasting is to humble ourselves before God, seek His will, and ask Him to empower us to do His will. Jesus expected his disciples to fast. In Matthew 6:16 Jesus said, “when you fast” indicating an expectation that his followers would fast. So, as requested by a reader, here are a few of my thought on fasting.

BIBLICAL REASONS FOR FASTING

  • To bring the body under control (1 Corinthians 9:27).
  • To receive understanding and insight (Daniel 9; 10:2-3; Luke 2:37).
  • To sorrow over sin. (Daniel 9; Acts 9:9; 1 Samuel 7:6).
  • To begin a new work for God (Matthew 4:2ff; Exodus 34:27-28; Acts 12:2-3).
  • To empower us (Esther 4:15-16; Matthew 9:15-17).
  • To seek the will of God (Acts 13:2).
  • To humble ourselves before God (Deuteronomy 8:2-3).
  • To be heard by God (Esra 8:53; Jonah 3).
  • To change God’s mind (Jonah 3:5,10; 1 Kings 21:27-29).

HOW TO FAST (Warnings: Do not fast if you are….)

  • Diabetic
  • Hypoglycemic
  • Taking certain medications with food.
  • Receiving treatment for an eating disorder.
  • Fasting for the praise of men (Matthew 6:16-18).

EXAMPLES OF HOW LONG TO FAST

  • One day (Leviticus23:27, 1 Samuel 14:24; Nehemiah 9:1).
  • Three days (1 Samuel 30:12, Acts 9:9).
  • Seven days (1 Samuel 31:11-13).
  • Fourteen days (Daniel 10:2-3).
  • Three weeks (Daniel 10:2-3).
  • Forty days (Exodus 34:28; Matthew 4:1-2).

FASTING ALTERNATIVES

  • Fast from television or other entertainment (Daniel 6:18).
  • Fast from certain food groups, including bread, sweets, fast foods, cokes or meat (Daniel 1).
  • Abstain from sex with your spouse, by agreement only (1 Corinthians 7).

PRACTICAL FASTING TIPS

  • Usual meal time should be replaced by Bible study and prayer.
  • If you have never fasted before, begin with a short fast.
  • Fasts longer than one day should include water and/or unsweetened fruit juices.
  • Avoid vigorous exercise during your fast.
  • Longer fasts are best accomplished with an accountability partner.
  • Expects some light-headedness, bad breath, and irritability, particularly with longer fasts.
  • When fasting longer than three days, seek medical advice.

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Article by Trey Morgan

I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast. Read 1182 articles by
12 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Neva says:

    Trey,
    Fasting was new to me until I married Mr. Neva. It is a part of his spiritual discipline and he has encouraged me to do so, also. We fast whenever there are big things happening spiritually–like recently the selection of new elders here in Spearman.
    The congregation where my mom worships in Redmond, OR, fast as a congregation several times a year. They have a great turnout–they meet at the building and pray together and meditate together. Water is offered but for eight hours, none of them eat. She cannot say enough about what a powerful experience it is.
    Fasting is a great discipline and a wonderful mind cleansing time.
    peace
    neva

  2. Anonymous says:

    Neva,

    Glad to hear this. It makes me feel good to know many still practice this spiritual discipline.

    Trey

  3. Chris says:

    This is definitely one of the most neglected topics in our fellowship today and probably one of the most needed.

    I will visit the blog you mentioned, thanks for always challenging me.

  4. The Preacher's Household: says:

    http://www.ihop.org/Group/Group.aspx?ID=1000015986
    A couple of months ago, I was introduced to this site while I was visiting a church in Lubbock. This is a program that they are about to conclude. I thought it was interesting.
    Kathy

  5. Anonymous says:

    I have tried fasting three times, all as a congregational activity along with prayer, for special events or troubles. My most difficult part was not thinking about food. I can go for long periods without food at other times. So I guess Satan had found a way to keep me from fully focusing on the things for which I was fasting. I really need to work on that.

    One thing you didn’t mention giving up for awhile was blogging when you know you could do it, not when you are somewhere without connections. 😉 Jeanne M.

  6. Liz Moore says:

    I agree, it’s a spiritual discipline we don’t exercise nearly enough. Part of the problem may be that for us C of C’ers, everything seems to be centered around food!

    We also have attempted fasting during big decision times, but it is something I need to practice more often. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Anonymous says:

    kathy, I didn’t get a chance to view the link, but is the International House of Pancakes (IHOP) really involved with/promoting fasting?!?!!?!?!?!

    brian

  8. The Preacher's Household: says:

    That would not be good for their business. :)
    It is the International House of Prayer. I don’t know much about the organization – I just thought their 40 days of fasting for 40 years was thought provoking.
    Kathy

  9. Tim Archer says:

    Actually, fasting is only for people who believe in following the teachings of our Lord and the example of the early church. That’s why it’s not one of the five acts of worship.

    Really good post. I appreciate the work you put in. I have a feeling this isn’t the first time you’ve thought about this subject.

    Grace and peace,
    Tim

  10. Anonymous says:

    piper’s book “A Hunger for God” and teh chapter in Foster’s “Celebration of Discipline” are great resources

  11. David of Frogtown says:

    Your blog makes me hungry! Let’s eat!

  12. TREY MORGAN says:

    Love the comments today … thanks for taking the time to leave a thought.

    Blessings

About Me

Trey Morgan Here are my thoughts about marriage, family, raising children, humor, faith and the life God intended for us all. I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast.

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