Advice & Help for Christians on fasting
What is Christian fasting? Christian Fasting explained
Biblically, fasting is abstaining from something that we would normally do to quieten the bodies natural needs such as food, drink, sleep, intimate relations with a spouse or it could even be a favourite activity to focus on a period of spiritual growth.
It is abstaining from attending to the bodies physical desires and needs. Doing this act by it’s very nature brings us closer to God because physically something happens to us when we do it. For instance, hunger makes us extremely alert mentally and it is the perfect way to focus – something that is very difficult in our normal fulfilled and what i call ‘sleepy’ state. Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to pray after a large meal!? It’s far easier to take a nap!
Christian Fasting – Focus Deeper on God
Specifically we humbly deny something of the flesh to glorify God, enhance our spirit, and go deeper in our prayer life by going on a fast. Often ‘fasting’ is described as ‘working’ towards God when really it is a kind of physical preparation that has a mental knock-on effect of making us more open to God. Christian fasting isn’t some kind of a “work” that’s commanded by Christ or required by Scripture. However, that doesn’t mean that fasting isn’t recommended as a part of our spiritual growth. In one place it even says that fasting is necessary to deliver some people from certain kinds of strong devils and demons. In other words such situation requires real communion with God’s spirit.
The Book of Acts records believers fasting before they made important decisions (Acts 13:4; 14:23). Fasting and prayer are often linked together (Luke 2:37; 5:33). Too often, the focus of fasting is on the lack of food. However, the purpose of fasting is to take our eyes off the things of this world and instead focus on God. Fasting is a way to demonstrate to God and to ourselves that we are serious about our relationship with Him.
Fasting in Scripture is almost always a fasting from food, however as said above there are other ways of fasting. Anything you can temporarily give up in order to better focus on God can be considered a fast (1 Corinthians 7:1-5). Fasting should be limited to a set time, especially when the fasting is from food. Extended periods of time without eating are harmful to the body. Fasting is not intended to punish our flesh, but to focus on God.
We shouldn’t fast to lose weight, but rather to gain deeper fellowship with God. Yes, anyone can fast. Some may not be able to fast from food (diabetics, for example), but everyone can temporarily give up something in order to focus on God. Even unplugging the television for a period of time can be an effective fast.
Yes, it’s a good idea for believers to fast though not expressly commanded in Scripture it is highly encouraged. The only Biblical reason to fast is to develop a closer walk with God. By taking our eyes off the things of this world, we can focus better on Christ. “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:16-18).
Christian Fasting Should become a Lifestyle
Christian fasting is more than denying ourselves food or something of the flesh, it’s a sacrificial lifestyle lived before God. In Isaiah 58, we learn what a “true fast” is. It’s not just a one-time act of humility and denial before God, it’s a lifestyle of servant ministry to others. As Isaiah tells us, fasting encourages humility, loosens the chains of injustice, unties the chords of the yoke, frees the oppressed, feeds the hungry, provides for the poor, and clothes the naked. This concept of fasting isn’t a one day thing – it’s a lifestyle of servant living for God and others.
“Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.” (Isaiah 58:8-9).
Fasting To Diet?
Fasting should not be considered ‘the’ best method to diet but it is one way – if done carefully – to kick start the body into losing weight of it’s own accord. New research suggests that one of the most healthy things you can do is to abstain from food for 1 or two days a week. This is not hocus-pocus – it actually has been scientifically proven to have a beneficial effect on cells and the body – giving it time to ‘rest’ and kick-starting the process of the body into ‘eating’ fat deposits and stabilising the appetite and therefore reducing weight gain accordingly.
It has also been found that people who fast live longer! Small meals are best and most healthy too. Perhaps some of the ancient cultures knew something we didn’t until recently. Whilst many people focus on exercise to lose weight – the simple and way faster way is simply to reduce portion size every time you have a meal. This has huge results fast as the appetite – the thing that makes us fat soon comes under control and we don’t want to eat as much.
Christian advice help on fasting at christianadvice.net 2005