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Spiritual Discipline: Fasting

Fasting is a tool, a spiritual discipline, whose whole goal is to bring us closer to the Lord. It does not make us holy, it does not earn acceptance from God, it is a way to break the hold of the world on hearts so that we can give them wholly to God.

Fasting disrupts our routines, exposes addictions we didn’t know we had or that we didn’t realize were so powerfully entrenched in us. It shows the power of our flesh to demand what it wants when it wants it.

We do not fast as a ritual or requirement but as a means to seek after the heart of God.

As you fast you will be taking control of your desires and emotions rather than continue to have them control you. You will be amazed at the ruckus your flesh will make when you start to deny it. It will whine and pester and push at you. You will then see just how powerful your flesh can be.

It is as we control of our flesh’s desires that we begin to be able to focus our hearts freely on God.

What is involved in a fast?

Traditionally a fast is abstaining from foods for a set period of time. We are going to define it a bit differently.

You can fast (take a break from indulging) just about anything in your life.

Fasting for Weight Loss

Don’t let that be your whole reason. Sure you will lose weight but you will probably go back to what you were doing before and put the weight back on. Don’t fast to lose weight fast to come closer to God and not allow food to control you.

However, I know you want to lose weight so I’ll tell you how to get started AND how to come closer to Christ during your fast.

How long do you plan to fast? Seven days? Then for the full week before you start eating only raw whole food and juice and water. This will prepare your body for the fast.

During the fast, every hunger pang is a signal to seek after God. This means that you will have many opportunities to spend time talking with Him and listening to His heart. You are finding that the Lord nourishes your soul in a way comfort food never could. You may want to get my Fasting devotional for this time period to focus you even more on your life in Christ. After the fast take another full week of raw foods and juices so that your body comes out of the fast nicely. You will have just spent three weeks in this process. Most likely you have lost 7-15 pounds or more but more importantly, drawn close to God.

After the fast continue your changes. Eat whole, fresh raw foods every day with or as most of your meal. Don’t go back to the addictive, sugary, disease-producing foods you ate before. Go to God for comfort, not to food.

Intermittent Fasting

You can fast from whatever is in your life that possibly gets in between you and the Lord. It is not just food from which we fast although it is the traditional type of fast. You can fast from whatever has a hold on you.

It doesn’t always have to be all or none. You can learn to fast intermittently rather than continually. This might even be the best way to fast.

If you are working on a fast from food or certain foods you can do so for one meal per day or maybe a day or two each week. Two days eating regularly and then one day fasting. Long term this technique will definitely help you lose weight and keep it off.

Some feel that this type of fasting is just as helpful in learning to break the hold of food on us and might even be better as it is a more gradual change and because you can eat normally some days per week it does not affect daily life quite as much.

An intermittent fast work also works for breaking bad habits. Take a day off the internet every couple of days if that is your addiction. The same with television, sports, gossip, or any other way in which your flesh is controlling your life.

An intermittent fast is also a good way to ease into a full fast. Think of it as jogging a while before you join a marathon.

Fasting and Spiritual Growth

The absolute main reason for a fast is to come closer to God. Food, sex, shopping, gossip, money, etc. etc. etc. can all become obstacles to our relationship with God. Fasting from whatever has a hold on us breaks that hold and sets us free.

So, if food has an unhealthy hold on your heart and thinking and body then choosing to fast, fully or intermittently, is a choice to replace that idol with a relationship with God.

With that as the goal every time you have a craving you use that as a signal to go to God. As you start each day you tell God that your heart’s desire is to have nothing before Him and ask His help to replace the idols in your life.

Your flesh will whine, throw tantrums, manipulate and try to bargain with you to give it what it wants – and it doesn’t want God. A fast is your time to tell this unruly and spoiled flesh that it is no longer in control but that you are going to pursue Christ with everything in you.

As you follow your fast you will find the flesh losing the battle and your resolve to live for God growing.

You can and will grow spiritually during a fast and it can hasten you toward a new life in Christ. You might want to pick up my Fasting devotional to help and direct you during your fast.

Fasting and Addictions

Sugar, salt, alcohol, caffeine, drugs are just some of the addictions we have. All of them should and can be broken. You know they are bad for you and you know that you are to be a slave to nothing but Christ.

A fast can help break an addiction. Special care and perhaps even a doctor’s approval should be given if you are breaking an addiction to drugs or alcohol as breaking these addictions can cause some medical problems but otherwise going “cold turkey” with, say, sugar can be done. You might notice some physical symptoms as you stop your intake but don’t worry they are temporary and you can prevail and conquer this.

Fasting and Detoxing

When we are fasting our body gets the chance to clean itself. This “detoxing” take out impurities, poisons, toxins, and spiritual strongholds. Detoxing isn’t always pleasant and you might feel like you have a slight case of the flu at times. Know that this is your body freeing itself of the garbage stored in it. You are experiencing the first stages of becoming truly healthy again. These “healing crisis'” are usually short and each one is even short in duration.

In the end, you are left feeling more energetic, clearer-minded, and just generally healthier.

Juice or Water Fasting

For some of us, it is difficult to go on a full water fast. We work, we have kids, we may have health issues that don’t allow this. Whatever the reason you can’t or don’t want to do a water fast you can usually do a juice fast. My favorite is carrot juice with an apple thrown in for good measure.

Juice – fresh, whole food not jarred or canned – is concentrated nutrition. Because it is already broken down your body doesn’t have to work as hard at digestion so you absorb the nutrients quickly and your body can use the extra energy on healing itself.

You can find good juice recipes online and make your own at home. A couple of quarts of juice will get you nicely through your day. I’ve done a juice fast over a period of several months when I was experiencing some health issues. I lost some extra weight and my body was able to have the rest it needed to heal.