Why Should We Fast?
We believe that fasting is one practical example of what Jesus said we must do in order to follow him – deny yourself (see Matthew 16:24). Part of the Today.Church core values GEAR we put on as sold-out disciples of Jesus is Sacrificial Self-Control.
We give up temporary things for eternal rewards.
Setting aside a specific period of time to focus on prayer while doing without something we emotionally desire or physically need is what we call fasting. There are many different ways to fast but the goal is not self-discipline. That’s a helpful bonus. The goal of fasting is to get closer to God. The reasons for fasting can include:
- repentance (changing for the better),
- direction (decision making),
- interceding (passionate petitions for others),
- expressing grief (sorrow or mourning),
- deliverance or protection (from enemies, circumstances or temptation),
- humility (humbling ourselves before God),
- love (honor and worship to God).
How Should We Fast?
Rule #1 is fast with humility. Jesus said don’t make a big deal about it to others. (see Matthew 6:16-18) It doesn’t have to be some kind of closely guarded secret, but it should be mostly between you and God.
There isn’t a set length of time, a schedule or a set way to fast in the Bible. But Jesus did say “when” you fast – so it is expected. Use wisdom. If you have any health issues or are planning an extended fast, consult your doctor. It’s common to fast a single meal, a whole day, a few days or more. If you’ve never fasted – start slow with small, attainable goals to build on. The length or type of your fast is not as important as your heart and focus on God while you fast and pray!
Types of Fasts
- This type of fast involves drinking only liquids, usually water only or water with light juices.
- This fast option involves removing certain things or categories from your diet. One common example is called the Daniel Fast where you do without meat, sweets or bread with only water and juice for fluids.
- This kind of fast involves abstaining from food for part of the day. For instance from morning and afternoon or from sunup to sundown. During that time you may observe a complete or partial fast.
- A non-food fast is common for those who are new to fasting, who have health reasons for not fasting food, or who want to refocus or find balance in an area. It could be abstaining from something like television, social media, video games or cell phone usage.