As I promised, I will share some of what I know about fasting and praying this week – even though no one agreed to join me in doing this. I know several of you retweeted, shared, and liked my post about calling us to prayer, but no one agree. Perhaps that is because it was so open-ended. At least that is what I am hoping. No one wants to commit to a 40 Day Fast, so let me explain what I am thinking. You can tailor your fast to whatever meets your need. You can fast for one meal, one day, multiple days. Depending on your physical health and medications you take, you may need to design your fast for something other than skipping meals. That is okay. The purpose of fasting, as I understand it, is to deny yourself of something meaningful and spend the time that you would normally do this activity in fervent, focused prayer. Biblically, fasting was focused on abstaining from food and water, sometimes from sunup to sundown and sometimes around the clock. Often, God would direct His people to avoid other activities. The point is that you make a commitment to God for a period of time and then spend that time praying and reading Scripture. Here are seven basic steps to consider before you make your decision about fasting.
Seven Basic Steps for Fasting
1. Set your objective. Why are you fasting? Is it for spiritual renewal, for guidance, for healing, for the resolution of a problem, for special grace to handle a difficult situation. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead and clarify your objectives.
2. Make your commitment. Pray about the kind of fast you should undertake. Some fasts are total abstinence from food and water. This would be a short fast, usually from sunrise to sunset. Others would fast for a longer time not eating food but water is allowed. The longer fasts would require juices as well as water. But decide what kind of fast God is asking you to partake. The truth is, every believer could fast. One meal — take the time for preparation and eating and spend it before the Lord. Fasting will require you to change your schedule, spend more time with the Lord, and reduce physical activities.
3. Prepare yourself spiritually. The very basis of fasting and prayer is repentance. Unconfessed sin will hinder prayers. Do this: Ask God to help you make a list of sins. Confess those sins to God. Accept God’s forgiveness. Seek forgiveness from those you’ve offended, forgive all who have hurt you. Make restitution as the Holy Spirit leads. Ask God to fill you afresh with His Spirit. Surrender your life fully to Jesus Christ as Lord and Master. Choose to reject your worldly nature. Meditate on the things of God: His love, grace, power, sovereignty, wisdom, faithfulness, and grace. Fast with an expectant heart. Be prepared for Satanic opposition: problems to arise, temptations, etc…
4. Prepare yourself physically. Talk to your doctor if you take prescription medication or have a chronic sickness.
5. Put yourself on a schedule. Set aside ample time to spend with the Lord and to rest.
6. If you fast for a long period, end your fast gradually. Don’t eat too much too soon.
7. Expect results. God will work.
Some of you are saying, “I can’t go without eating for a long period of time.” You don’t have to fast for weeks. Some fasts are for a period of several days and others are for a period of hours. You can fast from sundown to sundown, from sunup to sundown, or for one meal. The key is that for whatever period you choose to fast, you use that time to spend in prayer before the Lord. As one pastor put it, “If there were a $5 million check taped to the ceiling, you would be willing to miss lunch to get it, wouldn’t you?”