Fasting: I listened to one of your tapes on “Emotional Stability.” I am requesting some info on practical fasting.
Fasting is a very delicate thing. Each person needs to assess his goals, physical condition and life demands in order for fasting to be beneficial. There are a lot of different kinds of fasts: partial food fasts, water fasts and juice fasting.
When fasting, do not do it to try to move God. Fasting does not move God. God has given us all of His promises (2 Corinthians 1:20) in Jesus. In Him we are qualified (Colossians 1:12-14) For some “fasting” is nothing more than a hunger strike to try to force God to act. That mentality would fall under the category of “dead works.”
Fasting does not influence God. It does, however, influence us. When we fast the physical body begins to shut down and change many of its normal functions. After about three days, most hunger is diminished. Weakness usually begins. If you are on a water fast you must drink plenty of fresh pure water. The body will be unloading many toxins that could be very harmful to the kidneys and other organs.
It is essential to fast when you do not have to do physical work. It is a time of setting yourself apart to seek God. To continue to work could cause physical harm, cause you to work below acceptable performance levels and it would defeat the idea of seeking God with your whole heart.
As the body begins to do what I call a “shift” in its functions, it is amazing how our focus turns more inward. It gets much easier to hear the voice of our heart. It seems that we easily enter into the meditative state. Since God speaks in our heart, this is why we begin to recognize the voice of God more readily. It is not that our fasting gets Him to speak. We are now more focused inwardly to hear His voice. (Remember this was not the case in the Old Testament. God did not dwell in the hearts of men under the Old Covenant.)
Fasting can be a time of experiencing incredible grace. Hunger is the strongest physical desire a person has. Some have taught that the sex drive is the strongest. But trust me, when you have been without food for several days, you will pass up sex for a “hamburger” any day.
It is this dealing with hunger that can bring us to new levels of experiencing God’s power. When hunger comes, if you pray, deal with it in your heart; you will experience God’s grace. As you experience freedom from hunger you realize that you can experience freedom from any temptation. It is almost like doing a “test run” on the grace of God. It was in prayer and fasting that I first realized the power of God to conquer anything.
I encourage you to look at scriptures about fasting. Most, if not all of them, make some reference to the soul. Fasting humbles the soul. You will change inwardly through prayer and fasting.
I have had incredible experiences while fasting. It has been wonderful to read and meditate in the Word of God, to pray and just to experience God apart from the constant pull of daily responsibilities, and the body’s constant need to be fed.
Something I have recommended and experimented with is juice fasting. I have found it to be very healthy and to have many of the same “spiritual” benefits as water fasting. Health food sections of the bookstores have a lot of good material on juice fasting should you seek that route.
Here are some practical tips.
When you fast prepare in advance by cutting out caffeine, sugar, white flour and fruit for about two weeks. Then cut out meat for about one week. During this time drink a lot of water.
Plan to set yourself apart. Have a place to go where you will be alone to fast and pray as your heart leads you. Make it comfortable, quite and have everything you need right there. Take some music that is conducive to worship, prayer and praise.
When you begin your fast start by dropping off the evening meal first. The first 12-24 hours is the toughest, you may as well sleep through it. Walk and get plenty of fresh air every day. Keep yourself warm; your body can get easily chilled while fasting. Avoid all emotional stress and issues of the outside world. Set a time to end your fast. If you don’t you will nearly always feel condemned thinking that you stopped too soon. It is better to extend than to end and feel it was premature. If you get too weak, don’t hesitate to stop and start again later. It could be that your body is not ready for a prolonged fast. Don’t be idealistic! One of the best ways to avoid toxic damage is to take an enema everyday during the fast. It keeps the bowels from stagnating in the colon and reabsorbing into your system.
Breaking the fast properly is as important as any part of it. All of the health benefits and elements of self-control can be lost by improperly breaking the fast. Ease back into eating. Start with soups and light foods. You will find after a prolonged fast that your taste changes dramatically. Junk food just doesn’t taste good any more. However, your old ideas about eating will try to move you in that direction. If you want to leave any old eating habits behind, this is an excellent time to do it.
Obviously Jesus and the Old Testament prophets didn’t do some of these things. But the food they ate was not full of pollutants and toxins. It was not nearly as difficult for them physically as for us. Plus, when you think of 4,000 years of recorded history you really don’t have that many people fasting for prolonged periods. Obviously, none of this can be considered medical advice. Every person should consult his or her physician before beginning a fast. Most importantly, remember what it is all about. It is about you setting yourself apart unto the Lord.
Enjoy, Jim Richards