What is fasting?

  • It is the voluntary act of refraining from eating or drinking for a pre-set period of time.
  • It is a way by which we can say to God that we are deeply upset or concerned about a specific situation.  (Esther 4:16).
  • It spiritually mimics the act of mourning by giving expression to grief; in that, when we are faced with situations of great gravity we tend to lose our appetites.
  • It is a God-given way for men to humble themselves. (Psalm 35:13)
  • It is a means by which we can to God that we are repentant over our sin. (1 Samuel 7:6)
  • Fasting can also be appropriate when seeking guidance from God. (Ex 34:28 and Acts 13:2-3)
  • It is a sacrifice, putting God before your most basic human need.

What fasting isn’t!

  • Fasting is not a way of making sure that God listens to you. (Isaiah 58:5-12)
  • Fasting is not an opportunity to show how “spiritual” you are. (Matt 6:16-18)
  • Fasting is not a good way to lose weight!

Some practical tips on fasting

  • You could miss one meal and spend the time praying.
  • You could abstain from food and/or drink for 24hrs, e.g. from 5pm on one day until 5pm the next day.
  • You could abstain from food and/or drink for the day – i.e. from the time you get up until you go to bed.
  • You could fast for a number of days.  Paul Yongi Cho suggests that fasting for less than 3 days has no physical effect at all.  In his church in Korea, he starts people off on three days and works up to ten days.  Remember that we do not twist God’s arm by fasting for longer periods and so this is not necessarily a model to try to emulate immediately – however, Yongi Cho’s church is the largest in the world, with 750,000 members (starting from nothing at all!) and 50% of the population of South Korea are born-again, and so one would, perhaps, want to take note!
  • Remember. it is about grace!  If you get hungry and eat, God still loves you!

What should i do about fasting?

There really is power in fasting.  We need to respond to God in this.  Jesus assumed that His disciples would fast as a part of their normal life.  If we would consider ourselves to be disciples, then perhaps we should be seeing fasting as a necessary part of Christian life. Let it be a normal part of your lifestyle. John Wesley had all of his Methodist ministers fasting twice a week!  When we need guidance, when we need to repent, when we need to commit something to God when we need to see a breakthrough in some area of our lives we need to fast and pray.