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Fasting Means Refraining from Food for a Spiritual Result

I know I might step on a few toes with this post, but I just want to make one thing very clear. That is what fasting IS and what it IS NOT!

The word FAST in Hebrew means “to cover the mouth.” In the Greek, FAST means “to abstain from food.”

So, when someone says, “I am fasting from television,” it’s like saying, “I am going to cover my mouth and not watch T.V.” Or, “I am going to abstain from food by not watching television.”

That doesn’t make sense, does it? Fasting is abstaining from food for a spiritual purpose. It always has to do with food, and it’s not about abstaining from other activities.

Please uderstand, I am not saying that it isn’t a good a powerful exercise to abstain from an activity such as television to spend more time in prayer, study or meditation. That’s all very good. But it is NOT fasting. Fasting has to do with food.

Remember that we are a spirit, we have a soul (also called the flesh in scripture) and we live in a body (like an “earth suit”). When we fast, our spirit-man is taking control over our soul and our body. Our spirit is saying to the other parts of us, “I am in control. I know you feel hungry. I know you may want a slice of bread or a cup of coffee, but you can’t have it. I am in control of you now and you must obey me.” Your spirit is taking charge!

Experiencing this kind of discipline helps you grow in faith. It helps your innerman know that s/he can have authority, even when the soul and body don’t agree. Fasting puts all of you on high alert to the things of God. It’s a spiritual discipline unto the Lord.

Abstaining from an activity to replace the spiritual discipline of fasting is like saying to God, “I want to do this my way, not Yours. I want Your results, but on my terms.” This is all mixed up. If you want the benefits of fasting, then fast. Give up food or some types of food for a period of time. Take control of your soul and your body. Quicken your spirit. Open it to the Lord and His wisdom. Fasting is of God. The patriarchs, Jesus and the New Testament leaders fasted and prayed when they wanted to focus intently on God.

The Daniel Fast is a partial fast because only a partial list of foods are not eaten. It’s an excellent way to enter a short fast if you are new to fasting, and it’s especially great if you are led to a long-term fast, like Daniel did for 21 days as recorded in Daniel 10.

Let’s make sure that we keep the fast what it is . . . abstaining from food for a spiritual purpose.

10 Comments Post a comment
  1. L Green #

    Thank you for the word that you have delivered. It is as concrete as the word of God. I have been on a fast for 3 days now with no food and small sips of water. I believe in pressing towards the mark of His high calling. My husband has been exposed as an adulterer. I believe God is going to give me the answer if I just ask him. I want to build my relationship with God. Now is the time! For those of you out there that want to experience Him. Try it for yourself. He will do just what he said….

    July 9, 2008
  2. COCO #

    My pastor has called for a corporate fasting. this will be my very first one and i am EXPECTING God to do wonders, and miracles not only for my brothers and sisters at church but in my own family (financial breakthrough, not yet believers coming to Christ, my husband, my children, and me and a generational curse I know was broken the day I accepected Jesus) I know that my flesh will fight me and we are to be in prayer at all times. This might sound silly, but how can i be in prayer while at work or at school? I do pray in my head and whisper, i just want to please my God and make sure i am doing this the right way. Can we use soy milk in cereal?

    July 23, 2008
  3. Tamika #

    Is it okay to use 100% maple syrup and/or honey during a fast?

    July 25, 2008
  4. Hi Tamika,

    No, all sweeteners or out during the Daniel Fast, even though they might be natural.

    Be blessed as you seek the Lord through prayer and fasting.

    July 25, 2008
  5. Hi Coco,

    First of all, soy milk is allowed for cooking and with cereal. Just make sure to READ THE LABEL to make sure the brand you use is sugar-free and chemical free.

    Your question brings up what I believe to be one of the most powerful benefits of fasting. When we fast, it’s as if there is a boundary placed around our lives and activities. We are consecrating this time to focus more on God and His way of doing things. So while we may not be able speak prayers constantly while we fast, we can make a decision to keep our hearts open to the Holy Spirit, to be especially aware of His leadings, and to guard our hearts, minds and mouths.

    In other words, we want to be on “high alert” to behave and to open to the Lord. We can ask Him to speak to us, to guide and direct us, and to lead us into the way that He would have us go.

    Use this time to focus. Whenever you have a few minutes of quiet time, tell the Father what’s going on in your day, praise Him and give thanks.

    I hope this helps and bless you on your fast.

    July 25, 2008
  6. Nel #

    I am a medical student in need of some help and direction about my state board examination coming up. I have been wanting to fast in hopes of building a connection with God so that he can direct me into studying efficiently and effectively so that I can do well on my boards. I am also in need of some major financial deliverance. Is it wrong for me to fast for that purpose…knowing that while I will be getting closer to God, I have a specific purpose the fast? I understand abstaining from food is the correct way to fast however, I am in class all day and study at least 6 – 10 hours after. I wonder if I will be able to study effectively if I do not eat. I am really confused. I want to fast!!! I believe in fasting, I just do not know where to start and how to do it. Do I just not eat and pray all day. Is there some sort of format to follow? How many days should I fast for? Will it be as effective if I just do it once a week? Please offer some direction. I really want to and need to do this but I am lost. Thanks

    August 6, 2008
  7. Good morning Nel,

    Congratulations on your accomplishment in medical school. I commend you on your work, your success and that you will soon enter your board examinations. I know that you have dedicated much effort along with long hours and hard work. Blessings to you!

    This is a great time for prayer and fasting, and especially since you have a definite purpose (your tests and a financial breakthrough). It also seems that the best way for you to fast is with a partial fast, as Daniel did, eating only fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and seeds – and drinking only water. I encourage you to read the Book of Daniel, and especially note that his mind was sharper than the others who ate the king’s diet.

    If you can, take some time and read more of the posts on this blog to acquaint yourself with the Daniel Fast. It is not total abstaining from food, but rather some foods. It is still a powerful fast and is especially good for men and women in your situation where you need strength and alertness, plus those who want to fast for extended periods of time.

    The typical Daniel Fast is for 21 days, modeled after Daniel’s fast in Daniel 10. But there are no rules about the number of days. I have fasted using the Daniel fast for as few as 10 days and for as many as 50. So it’s up to you. Seek the Lord and see if you hear His leading as to the number of days you should fast. If you don’t get a specific answer, use your own wisdom trusting that the Lord is with you and guiding you.

    The only other piece of advice I can give you is that you take some time and plan your fast, especially since you are busy studying. Planning and preparing in the front end will save you many hours later, plus is sets you up for success. Don’t become anxious about the fast, but rather trust that God is with you and prepare meals ahead of time that you can then eat for several days. When I do this, I use the meal preparation time for prayer, scripture memorization, listening to Christian teachings or meditating on God’s word. It’s a powerful time rather than a burden in this way.

    Blessings to you and please feel free to contact me if you have any other questions.

    August 6, 2008
  8. LBrad #

    I started a fast in 2004, when I was going through some deep stuff. It started out the second week of each month, I would fast from Sunday midnight to the following Sunday at 6:00 p.m. I could only eat from 6-12p.m. each day of the fast. It would end Sunday at 6p.m. I did this a couple of months straight and before long, it became a part of my spiritual growth. I have been fasting that way since August 2004. I can honestly say, the rewards of fasting are great. My faith has grown stronger and I’ve learned to trust in the Lord more now then ever.

    December 29, 2008
  9. jimmy #

    Hi!I am a medical student and I want to fast.I wrote my exams and my results are around the corner.I want to pass desparately!Also I want to see a deliverance in friend’s life.I have two questions.
    First is I have to attend college from 9 to 4 and then I have to study at home.I feel physically tired to study.How can I fast and study at the same time?
    Second thing is I don’t feel like I have fasted unless I have abstained from food the whole day.And I do that I feel too tired.Is abstaining from food completely the only way?Or is it just my feelings?

    P.S Once I took fasting for 21 days(having only one meal in a day) and I didn’t get what I prayed for.I was feeling down.On top of that,I was accused of being demon possessed by a pastor and brother which later on was proved to be untrue.I was shocked and became depressed.

    March 24, 2009
  10. Hi Jimmy,

    Daniel is one of the most Godly men in the Bible and he is the one who set the standards for the Daniel Fast, which is a partial fast. Read Daniel 1 and 10 to learn more, but I also encourage you to read the whole book of Daniel to get in touch with his character. He is certainly a good example for those who want to put their trust in our Lord.

    Fasting is more than just changing the way we eat (or don’t eat). Granted, fasting is restricting food for a spiritual purpose. However, it’s also about “consecrating” ourselves and stepping into a period of time where we put our spirit in charge of soul and body. It’s about spending focused time in prayer and getting into a more intimate relationship with our loving Father. It’s not about earning His approval since we already have to through His Son. Instead, it’s pressing into God, spending time studying His Word and Ways. And falling deeper in love and dependency with Him.

    So, you can follow a Daniel Fast, eat enough so your body is healthy and strong for your studies, and submit yourself to your Father who loves and cares about you more than you can ever imagine!

    Be blessed and I hope the very best for you in your studies of medicine and the Word of God.

    March 24, 2009

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