How to use this guide
Thank you for joining our community’s many other Christian believers as we enter this joint season of prayer and fasting. Please keep this guide handy along with your Bible and journal and use them daily as we humbly fall on our faces in fasting and prayer, seeking the presence of God together. Take a moment now to review the entire guide so you understand the layout and instructions. Review the descriptions of types of fasts and prayerfully set your personal goals. Each day you will have a Scripture on which to meditate, questions to answer (you may choose to use them as journal prompts), and prayer examples to follow. Above all else, listen to the Holy Spirit’s direction closely.
The Lord Jesus encouraged us to fast (Matthew 6:16-18). For Him, it was a matter of when believers fast, not if they would fast.
Through fasting and prayer, the Holy Spirit can transform you, speak to you in new and dynamic ways, and significantly impact your life. This, in turn, will impact your family, local congregation, community, and nation.
The spiritual sensitivity developed during seasons of fasting usually results in benefits like deeper repentance, a closer bonding with God, more profound revelations of truth from the Word, clarity in decision-making and goal setting, and greater faith that brings more answers to prayer.
Fasting brings change. It usually begins with God calling us to fall on our faces in repentance and acknowledging our complete dependence on His Lordship and mercy. We fast to change ourselves – not to manipulate God, prove a point to God, or earn a spiritual merit badge. Prayer and fasting are about connecting to God and disconnecting from the world. Fasting challenges the “normal” rhythm of life and society, requiring constant dependence on God. Try to tune out unnecessary distractions from your day as much as possible. Replace those activities with things that will renew your passion for Christ and nourish your soul spiritually.
The war between our spirit and our flesh is about which will dominate and control our lives. Our flesh wars with our spirit, tempting us in different ways, but the Lord is more than able to keep us. Fasting gives the upper hand to our spirit. Our spirit is strengthened by prayer, while our flesh is weakened through fasting.
Giving up food for a designated period enables us to focus on God. When those hunger pangs arise, turn to prayer. Instead of watching the television, read the Bible, fast from social media, or sports so you can intentionally focus on God.
How to fast
Prayerfully choose a fasting plan that works for you. While this section provides some general information about the different types of fasts, it is important to recognize that there is nothing more spiritual about one style than another. Obedience to God’s direction for you is the key
These suggestions are only guidelines for you to consider.
Remember, a fast should make a significant demand on your flesh and be a genuine sacrifice. Don’t look for the easy way out – obey God’s direction. Neither should you take on more than the Lord asks (a sign of religious pride) – be obedient to God’s guidance.
Make your commitment
Before you begin, decide what type of fast God wants you to undertake. Decide how much time you will devote to prayer and Bible reading each day. Making these commitments ahead of time will help sustain you when physical temptations and life’s pressures tempt you to abandon your fast. Write down the details of your commitment in your journal. Refer to it often.
You may choose to fast for an extended period of time, or you may choose to fast for several of the days, such as three or four days a week, throughout the designated period. Your involvement should be prayerfully considered as it applies to your health and circumstances. Choose a plan that will cause you to rely on God and create space in your life for Him to work.
Fasting Safety and Practical Tips
As you begin your fast, you may hear from concerned loved ones urging you to protect your health, and they are right. It would be best if you were cautious and wise. If done correctly, fasting will be both a spiritual blessing and a physical blessing.
People with diabetes are encouraged to [follow the diabetic diet strictly according to recommended proportions, carbohydrate counts, and schedules] as a fast to the Lord. This will be pleasing to both the Lord and your doctor.
Strict fasting while nursing or pregnant is not usually recommended. If you are in this season of life, ask your physician to approve a modified Daniel fast or other prescribed diet that you can follow closely as a fast. Following your doctor’s direction is a type of humble submission that God can honor as much as any other type of fast. Obedience and sacrifice are the keys.
If you have a physical condition that would make fasting unwise or dangerous or are required to take certain types of prescription drugs, be sure to consult your doctor before changing your regimen.
Depending on which fast you choose, it may be essential to prepare your body ahead of time before beginning the fast. Take some time to transition into your fast; to avoid unnecessary discomfort. For example, if you plan to go on a juice fast or a Daniel fast of fruits and vegetables, start reducing the intake of meat, white grains, and refined sugars from your diet the week before. Also, you may want to cut back on dairy products and your caffeine intake. The same principle applies to breaking your fast. When your fast is over, be sure to add foods back into your diet gradually. You might be craving some food you’ve missed, but you don’t want to break your fast with a greasy cheeseburger! If you have been on the juice fast for more than 14 days, add broth and gelatin to help ease your way back to a regular diet during the final two days of your fast.
Oral hygiene. Keep up your regular routine. Brush and floss regardless of what you are or are not eating. Juice fasting can be hard on tooth enamel, so be faithful to keep them brushed. You will most likely experience some bad breath. Make sure to brush your tongue as part of your routine. Resist the temptation to use gum or breath mints – they stimulate the appetite. Rinse with warm water or drink hot water with lemon.
You must drink ample amounts of water continually as you fast.
The stricter the fast you choose – the more you will need to rest. This is natural and very important. Your body cleanses itself and heals itself as you sleep. Don’t resist a nap when your body asks for it. You may want to go to bed earlier than usual – it’s normal and reasonable for you to give in to this urge whenever possible. During that time of rest, the Holy Spirit can also speak to you more clearly and even give you spiritual dreams that are very beneficial to understanding what He is working in and through you during this season of fasting.
When you feel hungry and tempted to eat, talk to your body in this manner: “Flesh, you are not in control here. My stomach is not my God. I will not give in to your desires.” Then make this declaration: “In the name of Jesus, I take authority over the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. I submit myself to God and resist temptation – it must leave me now.” Ask God for help; He will sustain you and enable you to keep your commitment to Him. He wants you to succeed.
You may be more sensitive to cold during a season of fasting. Dress in layers of warm fabrics and wear your winter gear when needed. Warm your mug of water or juice in the microwave. Keep a throw handy during the day, and add an extra blanket at night.
Types of fasts
Specific food or activity fast
In this type of fast, you omit a specific item or items from your meal plans. You may eliminate red meat, processed food, fast food, coffee, soft drinks, or sweets. Most people can easily incorporate this fast (although “easy” is not the point). It can also be a solution for people with specific dietary needs or medical conditions that may cause concerns when fasting.
This is a fast where no meat, sweet foods, or strong drinks are consumed. It is primarily fruits and vegetables. Some starchy vegetables and dairy may be included depending on the individual. (See Daniel 1:12 and Daniel 10:2-3)
A juice fast is simply consuming vegetable and fruit juices and water instead of solid food. This is a fast where fresh fruits and vegetables are juiced in a juicer. If you can’t juice your own fruits or veggies try buying juices without sugar or additives. Regular apple juice or cranberry juice are good choices. When using fruits that are acidic, such as lemons, oranges, and tomatoes, you may want to dilute them with water for your stomach’s sake. Try heating a mug of juice in the microwave to keep you warm on chilly days – or just because it tastes good that way. Partial / Half-Day Fast
This fast may include not eating one main meal you would usually eat in your daily routine, such as breakfast, lunch, or dinner. This meal would be skipped until the fast was over. You may choose to fast until 3 P.M. John Wesley, father of Methodism, practiced this fast regularly. (see Acts 10:30-31)
Similarly, you can fast (eat nothing) each day for 18 hours and eat (as usual) during the other 6 hours.
Complete / Total Fast
This fast requires you to abstain from all solid foods, and drinking water only. When Jesus fasted in the desert, Luke 4:1-2 says, “After fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry.” Acts 9:9 described when Paul went on a total fast for three days following his dramatic encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. Queen Esther called for this type of fast in Esther 4:15-16. This
type of fast should be done with extreme caution and not for any extended period. Ezekiel Bread Fast
The Ezekiel bread fast is found in Ezekiel 4:9. Ezekiel fasted by eating bread made of wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet, and spelt. You may choose to use two slices of this bread (toasted if desired) along with juice or water to replace meals. You can find many recipes for Ezekiel bread online or buy it in the freezer section of many grocery stores. Media Fast
This fast can be added to any of the above. It involves abstaining from activities like television, Facebook, Twitter, movies, newspapers, novels, or recreational reading. Time generally spent engaged in those activities should be spent praying or reading the Bible, acts of service, or other spiritually beneficial activities. (See Isaiah 58)
The Lord may direct you to alternate between several of these fasts. He may lead you to use a different type of fast each week. Listen closely to His specific direction for you personally. Remember that learning to hear His voice more clearly and follow His direction is an integral part of the fasting experience.