Understanding Biblical Fasting
After writing a Bible Verse of The Day message about understanding Biblical fasting, we had many emails asking us for more information about it.
Fasting is something that we can do when we are up against a situation that doesn’t seem to be changing.
Sometimes we fast for a breakthrough in one way or another. Jesus taught us that fasting is required in order to drive out some demons. Those that were deeply rooted required more than just a quick word to cast them out.
Here’s an example where His disciples had tried to cast out a demon, but it refused to leave.
Mark 9:25-29 (NKJV) 25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it: “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!” 26 Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, “He is dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. 28 And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” 29 So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”
Fasting breaks some things within us because it requires us to be disciplined and requires a sacrifice on our part.
Regarding how to fast, here are some suggestions.
The most common way to fast is to abstain from eating solid food. The most common way to do this is to go without eating for a day or a specified number of days, taking in only liquids during this time.
This is, by far, the greatest sacrifice when it comes to fasting. It requires us to be dedicated and disciplined, since our bodies are used to eating a certain amount of food each day. And as we begin to deprive our bodies, they will almost seem to rebel against us by demanding that we eat! Even foods that we might not normally like to eat will suddenly seem appealing to us when we’ve been without eating for even just a few hours or more.
In some cases, fasting can be done by skipping one or two meals per day, instead of going entirely without food. This might be more suitable for people who do strenuous labor on their jobs or for people who have any kind of health issues that might make fasting risky for them.
If you have a physical health condition that would prevent you from fasting from foods, you could fast from something else that is important to you. Maybe fasting from coffee or fasting from sweets and desserts would be a big sacrifice for you. Doing this kind of fast can show us if we’re addicted to coffee or another type of food or drink.
Some people might choose to fast from something they enjoy doing or means a lot to them, like maybe watching TV or some kind of hobby that you do daily or regularly. Although these types of fasts aren’t really what Jesus was referring to when He was talking about casting out demons.
With regard to knowing if we should fast or not, it’s always a personal decision. There may be instances when we just feel like we need to fast, but we don’t know for sure why. Sometimes God just asks us to do so, just like sometimes He may prompt us to pray for someone, even though we don’t know specifically what their need is.
Fasting can also draw us closer to God, as we deny our flesh and obey Him. If we really enjoy food, we’ll be surprised at how abstaining from food can allow us to hear God more clearly and take our focus off of satisfying our own fleshly desires and wanting to please Him instead.
If you’re brand new to fasting, it’s best not to dive in too deep at first. Maybe start with fasting for one day, skipping your usual daily meals but drinking water or maybe even some kind of juice to give you some kind of nourishment. Be sure to choose real juice, not the stuff that’s loaded with artificial sweeteners or other kinds of processed sugar.
Some people may even want to start by skipping one or two meals a day for a few days.
Again, though, the fasting that Jesus spoke of in the Word was complete abstinence from food, not just skipping a meal or two.
So we need to let God speak to us and try our best to follow His leading.
And if you try fasting for the very first time, don’t get down on yourself too badly if you fail and end up eating before the fast is over. Sometimes we just plain give in to the temptation to eat. Other times we might slip up and grab a bite of something out of habit.
In the first instance, try again another day. In the second instance, shake it off and continue on with your fast.
And, lastly, always keep in mind that if you fast for more than just a day or so, you will need to adjust your physical activity levels to compensate for your lack of food intake. Strenuous exercise after a few days without solid food isn’t recommended.
And keep in mind that if you fast from all food for a lengthy period of time, such as a few days or more, your body will have begun to compensate for the lack of solid food by slowing everything down, such as your metabolism, etc. And your digestive system will be in a type of “hibernation” mode because it has been without solid food.
So when you do begin eating again, be sure to ease back into it. Don’t jump right back in by eating a heavy, hard-to-digest meal. Broths, soups and soft foods are required, especially if you’ve fasted for more than a week.
And because your metabolism will have slowed down quite a bit from the lack of nutrition, jumping right back into eating heavy foods too soon can result in some temporary weight gain, since the calories taken in won’t be burned as quickly as normal.
Remember to bring your eating back to normal levels over the course of a few days or more, so as not to cause an upset stomach or other health issues.
There is much more that can be written about fasting, but this should be enough info to give you some insights. We hope it helps you with understanding Biblical fasting a bit better.
Please contact us if you have any other questions at all.
Pastor Curt & Pastor Ellie
To read the original Bible Verse of The Day message that inspired this blog post, please click here.
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