Many Christians don’t even know what fasting is. Even for the ones who do, they haven’t studied it much or been taught how to apply it in their lives. It is something that rarely, or never, comes up in church and so Christians are left without proper education on the subject. Consequently, it has ceased to be a practice almost at all.
This is terrible! Fasting and prayer are, coupled together, one of the most powerful things a Christian can practice in their lives. It is the only way we can ever win some spiritual battles. It is a way of showing that we are serious in our walk with God, and it is something that God honors and rewards.
So because I know it is such an important subject, and because I want to encourage others to not be afraid and to start doing it in their own lives, here are some Things Christians Should Know About Fasting.
1) What Fasting is.
Fasting is simply not eating. Google defines it as: [to] abstain from all or some kinds of food or drink, especially as a religious observance.
However, there are different types of fasts. First, there is fasting for health reasons, and fasting for spiritual reasons (which is what I am mainly discussing here).
Also, there are variations of fasting such as:
- Dry fasting: eating no food and drinking no water. This one can only go for a period of several days (depending on activity level and among other things) before you will need to begin to replenish the fluids in your body.
- Water fasting: eating no food and drinking only water. This one can be done for periods of over 40 days.
- Juice fasting: eating no food and drinking only juice and water.
- The Daniel fast: drinking only water and eating only fruits and vegetables.
And many other kinds….
2) Who can Fast?
Anybody. Anyone can fast. However, for pregnant women and people with certain medical problems, it’s better to keep fasts shorter, no more than 3 or 4 days. Also, people who struggle with eating disorders and are significantly underweight should try to eliminate these issues before attempting a fast.
I would not advise anyone to fast without doing some research first and learning how fasting works in the human body as well. One should be fully aware of what they are doing.
3) (Briefly) How Fasting Works in Our Bodies.
Digestion and absorption of food takes up a lot of energy and effort in our bodies. When you fast, the body doesn’t need to use that energy on food, and can concentrate it on healing & repairing your body.
When you fast, your body begins using its stores of glycogen and also releases lots of fluids it has retained. As a result, you will probably lose several pounds in just the first couple days. I usually have lost 5-7 lbs by day 3. If you are small like me, that’s kind of a big deal, but you will gain that weight back. After exhausting glycogen stores, your body begins to use fat for energy. This goes on down the line, with your body burning the least essential things and only breaking down essential organs, etc., when it reaches starving point.
During this process, amazing things happen. Toxins are dissolved and/or excreted from the body, vitamin and mineral deficiencies and imbalances are corrected, and your body begins to work more and more efficiently. Fasting has been known to dissolve tumors, cancer, clear up all kinds of skin troubles, greatly improve mental and emotional health, and numerous other things.
4) Fasting in the Bible.
So why and when should we fast?
The first thing that I want to establish is that fasting is not a command of God for us. There is no mandatory guidelines on how, when, how long, etc. to fast. But let us examine the life and words of Jesus.
First of all, most of us know that Jesus fasted and prayed for 40 days. He went off into the wilderness, away from the distractions of life, and didn’t eat for almost six weeks. Now a lot of us simply cannot do that…we have jobs, families, and are furthermore unable to leave electronics and wi-fi or survive in a wilderness *wink*. But Jesus is our example, and we are to follow His steps, so if He fasted, I believe we should too.
Then came to him [Jesus] the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not? And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.
Every passage in the Bible is there for a reason. When it comes to this passage, we have Jesus saying that when he goes away again, his disciples will fast. Jesus has gone away, so now is the time to fast.
Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.
Here we find that we are not to make a show of fasting. It is not something to put in peoples’ faces to show them how spiritual we are. Rather, we should go about our days as usual.
And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.
Lastly, we see there are things spiritually that we cannot obtain without fasting (and prayer). That’s a pretty powerful truth right there.
I hope to do a second post detailing fasting in the Bible, so this has simply been an overview, but I hope it has been enough to give each reader a general idea.
Fasting is such an amazing thing, that it should be the go-to way to recover from almost any sickness, disease and disorder. Unfortunately, it is used as a last resort at best, and in most cases, not at all. The truth is, doctors either don’t know about the wonders that fasting can work in the human body, or they do not want you to know because they want to sell you expensive medication or make you go through some (usually painful) treatment.
When it comes to the spiritual side, there are many religions around the world that still use fasting today, and yet most Christians here in the U.S. do not! We should be the most fervent, the most disciplined, the strongest, and yet sadly we are the lukewarm, sloppy, and frail. It is time to change that.
So turn off your phone, your computer, your TV, close your cupboards and your refrigerator, and open your Bible, fall down on your knees. THAT is where we all need to be.