Many people fast at the beginning of the year, and I know that a lot of churches encourage fasting or an annual consecration period so that people can really tune themselves back to God.
This is something that I also apply to my life. At the beginning of every year, I always take at minimum 21 days to fast, pray, and seek God about His vision for my life.
But I recognize that fasting is new for some so I wanted to take a moment to share a little bit about the importance of fasting and its benefits so you can also apply this biblical principle in your life too.
What is Fasting?
If you’re unfamiliar with the principle and concept of fasting, it’s a spiritual discipline taught throughout the Bible. There are a lot of types of fasts, but according to the Bible, fasting means to voluntarily reduce or eliminate your intake of food for a specific time and purpose.
In Matthew 6:16-18, it says, “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
The fact that this scripture provides instructions on how to fast is an indication that fasting was an assumed practice. The Bible doesn’t say if you fast, but when, and this is good news because there are so many rewards to fasting as Matthew reminds us.
The Importance of Fasting
Fasting is an important biblical principle that every believer should implement in their life. If you are saved, if you call yourself a Jesus follower, if you love God, it is an integral part of your relationship with Christ. Overall, it helps quiet your flesh so you can gain more authority, clarity, and connection with God.
There are so many biblical examples of people in the Bible who fasted before a major victory, a miracle, or an answered prayer. A couple of examples are:
- Moses fasted before he received the Ten Commandments (Exodus 34:28).
- The Israelites fasted before a miraculous victory in battle (2 Chronicles 20:2-3).
- Daniel fasted in order to receive guidance from God (Daniel 9:3 and Daniel 9:21-22).
- Nehemiah fasted before beginning a major building project (Nehemiah 1:4).
- Jesus fasted during his victory over temptation when he was tempted in the wilderness, and Queen Esther called the people of Israel to fast.
There are so many more examples of people in the Bible who have fasted, and if you also look at a lot of spiritual leaders in your life, they are probably fasting and applying this principle in their life as well.
Benefits of Fasting
Not only is it important to fast, but it brings so many benefits.
1. Fasting helps us have a greater connection with God.
It helps us fix our attention and focus on Jesus. It allows us to gain greater intimacy with God. It helps us deny and quiet our flesh so we can hear the voice of God clearer and it adds supernatural power to our life to help us fulfill our purposes.
For example, if you have a fire and add dynamite to the fire, it creates a massive explosion. The same goes for fasting. We start with something small and then God multiplies it, intensifies it, and adds supernatural power to create spiritual momentum.
The whole purpose of why we’ve been placed on earth is to have a personal relationship with Christ. So if you feel like your relationship with God has been dry lately, I encourage you to fast! It will help you experience a deeper level of intimacy with Him that you wouldn’t experience regularly from reading your Bible and praying.
2. Fasting can also help you overcome difficult situations.
Like I mentioned earlier, when Queen Esther went to the King’s palace, she knew she was risking her life when she decided to say something to the King. But she also knew the power of fasting. With her life on the line, she called a widespread fast amongst the Israelites.
She asked everyone to fast, believing that the King would spare her life for advocating for her Jewish people. She wanted them to pray that she would find favor with the King, and we all know how the story ends. It was basically happily ever after.
So if you’re experiencing difficulty in your life, if you would like to see a change in your life, or if you would like to see a miracle happen, fasting is a great way to prepare your heart and your spirit for the blessing that God will provide.
3. Fasting Detoxifies your body.
Not only are there spiritual benefits to fasting, but there are also physical benefits too. When you deny yourself of foods such as sugars or caffeine, it helps detoxify your body from processed foods that you would eat based on your normal eating habits. If you’re also working out while fasting, it can help you create better habits for your life!
Important Reminders About Fasting
Some important things to remember when it comes to fasting is we do NOT fast to “earn” an answer to our prayers. We must remember that we cannot force God to do anything. We can’t put Him in a box. We can’t tell Him what to do, and we most certainly cannot manipulate God through our fasting. He cannot be blackmailed by human effort.
Fasting is relationship-based, not work-based. Anything we do in our relationship with God should simply be because we love Him. God is faithful, He loves us, and He wants to provide for us. We have access to His promises because of what His Son did on the cross.
At the end of the day, fasting helps prepare our mind, our body, and our spirit for the answer that God has already given us through His promises. It prepares our hearts for whatever God already ordained before the foundation of the world to do.
In addition, it’s really important that fasting is accompanied by increased prayer, Bible-reading, and worship. When I’m fasting, I like to avoid watching tv or listening to secular music because I want to be intentional about protecting and guarding my gates and heart so I can hear clearly from God.
So when we deny ourselves from food, yet fail to spend time worshiping the Lord through prayer, then it’s not really fasting. It’s a diet.
We can read, focus on personal development, or spend time doing things God has asked us to do. These are all great! But if we’re not spending time with God, then we are missing out on the real point of fasting. Prayer and reading the Word are pivotal. That’s the real dynamite.
Different Types of Fasts
For those who are unfamiliar with fasting, I do want to break down a couple of different fasts you can participate in.
1. Total Fast
A total fast is when you only drink water and do not eat any food. Some will only drink liquids like clean juices and black coffee, but this is dependent on the person who is fasting.
A total fast is very difficult. If you’re new to fasting, do not feel guilty if you’re unable to complete a total fast. It’s okay to start small and build yourself up to total fasting. This is something that I’m personally still growing in.
2. Partial Fast
The second type of fast is a partial fast, which is done by cutting specific foods out of your diet. This can range from the Daniel fast, where you’re only eating vegetables, nuts, and fruits to deciding that you’ll stop eating sweets, fried foods, snacks, or anything else that would bring you comfort and satisfy your flesh.
A partial fast can also mean a period of time when you’re not eating. For example, you could do a 6 to 6 partial fast, which means you’re not eating from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
The whole point of a fast is to deny yourself comfort. A quote I’ve always heard about fasting is it’s like turning the knob of your flesh down and turning the knob of your spirit higher so that you can hear and see better.
3. Combination Fast
The third type of fast is a combination fast. Maybe you decide for an extended amount of time, like 21 days, you want to do a total fast for three days, and then a partial fast for the remainder of the 21 days. A combination fast is just that – a combination of different types of fasts.
4. Media Fast
There are also some new types of fasts that a lot of Pharisees or saints may have issues with LOL, but you can also do a media fast. This could mean fasting from social media for an extended period of time, fasting from playing video games, or watching TV. In addition, it could mean fasting from the news because you’re somebody that tends to struggle with fear because of what you see on the news.
Practical Tips to Fasting
At the end of the day, it’s important to ask God what type of fast you should do and the length of time. I always encourage people to decide what type of fast they want to do prior to actually starting their fast.
I have fallen short many times in this area where I have started a fast and then midway through decided to do something else because my flesh was weak and ready to eat fries LOL.
The point is you will want to decide on your fast ahead of time. For another measure of accountability, write your decision down! That way, any time you feel weak and start to question your decision, you can go back and look at what you decided. This will help you stay focused and committed to the fast you’ve chosen for yourself.
I do want to provide a couple of medical disclaimers though. If you are someone who is pregnant or has a health condition, it’s important for you to speak to a medical professional to learn about your physical limitations to fasting.
For example, if you’re pregnant, you may not be somebody that can do a total fast because you’re eating for two, but you may be able to do a partial fast where you’re eating vegetables, fruits, nuts, and lean proteins.
If you would like to still work out, consult a trainer! They can provide you with modified workouts that are still safe for your body. The trainers I’ve worked with highly encourage exercise while fasting especially if you’re on a partial fast because you’re still getting nutrients.
Overall, I hope this information was helpful to you and I hope it encourages you to apply the principle of fasting in your life.
Let me know if you’ve fasted before or if there’s something in this post you found helpful. And let me know if you have any questions about fasting. I would love to help answer them in the comments!
Hanha Hobson is a Christian author and speaker. Her personal mission is to provide the millennial woman that wants to experience more of God fun and practical resources that help them confidently believe who God has called them to be. When she is not encouraging others or writing her heart out, she enjoys watching Grey’s Anatomy, drinking iced chai lattes from Starbucks, and connecting with friends on Instagram. Come say hi!