As you prepare to fast, it is important to choose a fasting option that works for you. While this page provides some general information about different types of fasts, as well as some suggestions on how to create your own fasting plan, it is important to mention that there is nothing more inherently spiritual about one type of fast as opposed to another.
These are simply guidelines on different things you can do. Do not let what you eat or don’t eat become the focus. Keep the main thing the main thing, which is drawing closer to Jesus. Remember, this is a time to disconnect enough from your regular patterns and habits in order to connect more closely to Him. Here are a few tips to keep in mind before getting started:
Start where you are.
We are all at different places in our walk with God. Likewise, our jobs, daily schedules, and health conditions are all different and place various levels of demands on our energy. So most importantly, whether you’ve fasted before or this is your first time, start where you are.
Your personal fast should present a level of challenge to it, but it’s very important to know your own body, know your options and, most importantly, seek Jesus in prayer and follow His lead.
Ways you can fast.
There isn’t one fasting option that works the same for everyone. Follow Jesus’ leading, mix it up, and find what works for you.
Should you completely cut it out? It depends. The great thing is, when you fast, your body automatically craves less caffeine. If you can manage with a little caffeine, great. If you are going on a longer fast and want to cut it out of your diet completely, that’s great too. But ease yourself off and make it your goal to be completely caffeine free about two-thirds of the way into your fast. If you regularly have a high caffeine intake, one of the worst mistakes you can make is to fast for one to three days, cutting caffeine out abruptly and completely. Please don’t do that or you will spend this time grumpy and in withdrawal instead of enjoying God’s presence.
The Daniel Fast is a great model to follow and one that is extremely effective for spiritual focus, bodily discipline, and purification of the body and soul.
It is probably one of the most commonly referred-to fasts; however, within the Daniel fast there is room for broad interpretation. In the book of Daniel, we find two different times where the prophet Daniel fasted. Daniel 1 states that he only ate vegetables and water, and in Daniel 10, while the passage does not give a specific list of foods that Daniel ate, it does state that he ate no rich (or choice) foods, as well as no meat or wine. So, based on these two verses, we can see that either of these, or combinations of the two, constitute a Daniel fast. Again, it is important to mention that there is nothing inherently spiritual about one type of fast as opposed to another. The foundation of the Daniel fast is fruits and vegetables.
Specific Food or Activity
In this type of fast you omit a specific item(s) from your meal plans. For example, you may choose to eliminate all red meat, processed or fast food, or sweets. Most people can incorporate this type of fast relatively easily. It can also prove to be a great solution for people with specific dietary needs or medical conditions that may cause certain limitations. While fasting typically refers to refraining from specific food items, you may also find it extremely beneficial to fast from a regular activity or habit. This might include things such as television, social media, shopping, alcohol, and the like.
Fasting and Eating Disorders
If you have struggled with an eating disorder then consider fasting from television, social media, shopping or some other favorite activity.
Beginning and Breaking your fast well...
Depending on the type of fast you choose, it is very important to prepare your body ahead of time before beginning the fast. Take some days to transition into your fast; otherwise, you could get sick. For example, if you would like to go on a fruits and vegetables or juice fast, start eliminating meat, white grains, and refined sugars from your diet the week before. Also start to cut back quite a bit on dairy products and some of your caffeine intake. The same principle applies to breaking your fast. When your fast is over, add foods back in very gradually. Please don’t break your fast with a greasy cheeseburger! Because your body is so cleansed and detoxified, you will most likely get sick if you do that. There are also several supplements you can take that will help support the detox process during your fast. Your health-food store can give you recommendations.
Other thoughts on fasting...
Make it a priority to participate in weekly worship gatherings. Being around other Christ-followers will encourage you to keep on going when fasting gets difficult.
As you select your type of fast, you may want to make a fasting calendar that fits your plan. Determining what each day and week will look like is wise.
Keep your fridge and pantry stocked with the items you need. Being unprepared to fast sets you up to give into temptation. Choose well when selecting products, stick to raw food as much as you can, and limit artificial ingredients.
REMEMBER, don’t let food become the focus of your fast, but make wise eating choices.
Drink lots of water while fasting to support critical liver function. The liver is the filter for the body, so when you don’t drink enough water, the liver doesn’t function at its highest capacity.
To keep your energy up throughout the day, it’s important to eat or drink every two and a half to three hours. Be careful not to over- stuff, even if you are only eating fruits and vegetables.
If you slip up, don’t get discouraged. Just get right back on track and keep going. He wants you to finish, and He will give you the grace and strength to do it. Talk to God and give Him time and space to talk to you.