Understanding Fasting

Fasting is a spiritual discipline that is taught in the Bible. Jesus expected His followers to fast and He taught that God rewards fasting (Matthew 6:16-18). Both individual and church-wide fasting are mentioned in Scripture. When participating in a church-wide fast, it is still important to maintain humility in order not to brag to others about what you are doing. Church-wide fasting is a powerful tool that God uses but we must understand that our fast is unto God not each other. Through fasting and prayer, the Holy Spirit can transform your life.

Why should I fast?

The primary purpose of fasting is to focus on God and to center our attention on Him. In doing so, we glorify God.

  • Fasting is not so much about food as it is about focus.
  • Fasting is not so much about saying no to the body as it is about saying yes to the Spirit.
  • Fasting is not about doing without, it is about looking within.
  • Fasting is an outward response to an inward attitude and cry of the soul.

Are there different types of fasting?

Let the Lord lead you as to the timing and type of fast He is calling you to participate in.

  • Absolute Fast: Abstain from all food and liquids. (Exodus 34:28, Esther 4:16)
  • Standard Fast:  Drink liquids only. (Nehemiah 1:4)
  • Partial Fast: Limit your diet. (Daniel 1:8-13)
  • Special Fast: Give up something specific, other than food.

What if I have physical limitations?

  • Consult your doctor before you begin your fast.
  • If you are unable to fast from food, choose something else to abstain from.

What should I do while I’m fasting?

  • Keep your focus on the Lord.
  • Read Scripture.
  • Stay in an attitude of prayer throughout the day.
  • Set aside segments of time for specific prayer.

Are there examples of fasting in the Bible?

  • Moses – Exodus 34:28
  • Israelites – 2 Chronicles 20:2-3
  • Elijah – 1 Kings 19:2-8
  • Daniel – Daniel 1:12-20; 9:3
  • Jesus – Luke 4:1-2

Examples for fasting from food:

  • Fast every Monday, or every Tuesday and Thursday.
  • Fast from lunch every day.
  • Fast from all food
  • Fast from certain types of food (Daniel Fast, see below)

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

2 Chronicles 7:14

Example Fast – The Daniel Fast

Special Note: if you have health issues, please be sure to contact your health professional for advice before committing to any fast including the Daniel Fast. If you would like a list of the foods included and excluded in the Daniel Fast to show your doctor, just copy the contents of this page. 

Foods to include in your diet during the Daniel Fast 

All fruits. These can be fresh, frozen, dried, juiced or canned. Fruits include but are not limited to apples, apricots, bananas, blackberries, blueberries, boysenberries, cantaloupe, cherries, cranberries, figs, grapefruit, grapes, guava, honeydew melon, kiwi, lemons, limes, mangoes, nectarines, oranges, papayas, peaches, pears, pineapples, plums, prunes, raisins, raspberries, strawberries, tangelos, tangerines, watermelon

All vegetables. These can be fresh, frozen, dried, juiced or canned. Vegetables include but are not limited to artichokes, asparagus, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chili peppers, collard greens, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, ginger root, kale, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, mustard greens, okra, onions, parsley, potatoes, radishes, rutabagas, scallions, spinach, sprouts, squashes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, turnips, watercress, yams, zucchini, veggie burgers are an option if you are not allergic to soy.

All whole grains, including but not limited to whole wheat, brown rice, millet, quinoa, oats, barley, grits, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat tortillas, rice cakes and popcorn.

All nuts and seeds, including but not limited to sunflower seeds, cashews, peanuts, sesame. Also nut butters including peanut butter.

All legumes. These can be canned or dried. Legumes include but are not limited to dried beans, pinto beans, split peas, lentils, black eyed peas, kidney beans, black beans, cannellini beans, white beans.

All quality oils including but not limited to olive, canola, grape seed, peanut, and sesame.

Beverages: spring water, distilled water or other pure waters.

Other: tofu, soy products, vinegar, seasonings, salt, herbs and spices.

Foods to avoid on the Daniel Fast 

All meat and animal products including but not limited to beef, lamb, pork, poultry, and fish.

All dairy products including but not limited to milk, cheese, cream, butter, and eggs.

All sweeteners including but not limited to sugar, raw sugar, honey, syrups, molasses, date honey, agave, stevia and cane juice.

All leavened bread including Ezekiel Bread (it contains yeast and honey) and baked goods.

All refined and processed food products including but not limited to artificial flavorings, food additives, chemicals, white rice, white flour, and foods that contain artificial preservatives.

All deep-fried foods including but not limited to potato chips, French fries, corn chips.

All solid fats including shortening, margarine, lard and foods high in fat.

Beverages including but not limited to coffee, tea, herbal teas, carbonated beverages, energy drinks, and alcohol.

Information courtesy of http://daniel-fast.com/