You should not fast food if you are diabetic, have health issues or are prone to eating disorders. Always consult your doctor before you go on an extended fast and you should always make sure you are taking in enough fluids and salt.
We saw why we should fast in Part 1 and Part 2. Now, let's look at how to fast.
Fasting is about the condition of the heart and not how many days or what you fast. Some sites on fasting give names to the different fasts like the 'Esther fast', or the 'Daniel fast'. I don't like to do this as this gives recognition to the person and not God and the whole idea about fasting is to deny self and focus on God.
There are different types of fasts that can be done and the best place to start is in prayer asking God what He wants you to do and for how long. Since feelings can be tempted and prompted by Satan it is good to look at the situation we are in and then look to the people in the Bible to see what they did. You can refer to post 1 and post 2 for scripture reference on the 'whys'.
There are 5 types of fasts that can be done and these are;
--the absolute fast, no food or water for no longer than 3 days
--the normal/strict fast, no food only water
--the normal fast, no food only liquids
--the partial fast, restricting certain foods, food groups or certain meals
--the material fast, staying way from a particular thing that is very satisfying or addicting for you, eg; smoking
If you have never fasted before it is wise to start small, like fasting a meal or a favourite food. If you choose to do a 7 day fast right off the bat you might just be setting yourself up for failure. Fasting will detox your body and the first 3 days of a fast can be very difficult as your body is going through withdrawal and releasing toxins. Gradually your body will become use to fasting and you will be able to go for longer periods of time.
How long should you fast
What to expect when you fast from food
The first three days are the toughest, you will experience hunger pains, headaches, coating on the tongue, irritability and weakness. By the fourth day the hunger pains should diminish along with the headaches and irritability. By the fifth and sixth day you should feel very energized, alert and very in tune to God and His word. You will still have coating on the tongue and you might still be weak, depending on how much reserves you have on your body to start with. If you are continuing on into a longer fast you will become weak and tend to sleep more but your alertness and sensitivity will increase. This should continue the duration of the fast be it 7, 14, 21 or 40 days. Each person is different and will experience differently but in general you will feel great and vibrant because the sluggishness of certain food types and harmful additives is being purged from your body.
It is not out of the norm to experience spiritual attack and failure. If failure happens and you cave in and eat something, don't worry about it, just pick yourself up and continue on. Remember, this is a matter of the heart and God wants obedience not sacrifice. If you experience spiritual attack that is ok too, for after Jesus had His 40 day fast Satan came and tempted Him. Remember, when we are weak then He is strong.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Not only is this a purging of the body this is also a purging of the soul. It is not uncommon to be in a repentant state throughout your fast. I have experienced a very sorrowful heart finding myself crying and praying over various things as the Spirit of God has led me. I have also had sins from my past bubble up, things I had either totally forgot about or had no memory of until God showed me. When this happens just confess your sins and accept the forgiveness He offers you.
I have never done a material fast but my children and certain friends have. Most of you will remember Emily, the 16 year old girl with leukemia. Almost a year ago my daughter set up a 40 day fast for her while she underwent stem cell transplant. While on this fast, since my daughter was still in her growing stage, she fasted talking from 6 pm till the following morning. It was a very tough fast especially since my daughter has not stopped talking since the day she learned how. ;P
How to break a fast
Spiritual and Health benefits
Spiritually you will be sharp and in tune to the Holy Spirit. Bible verses will come readily to your mind and you will be sensitive to the prompting of God and willing to obey quicker than before. With a life dedicated to fasting and prayer you will find the fruit of the Spirit growing in you. Physical health wise, your system will have been cleaned out from the build up of toxins. This usually requires a 30 day or more fast, but benefits will be felt by a 7 day fast.You will have more energy and some of the health issues you might have experienced before may have disappeared.
Daniel 9:3, 20 NIV
3 So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.20 While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the LORD my God for his holy hill—
Next up; my fasting testimony.