Returning to our spiritual disciplines series, which focuses on exercises that can be used to train the soul. These disciplines' goals and practices are approached in such a way that they can be adaptable to a variety of belief systems.
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“By suffocating the soul with food, you suffocate it and make it less active.” Seneca
We looked at the spiritual discipline of simplicity in the previous edition of this series, defining it as having a clear goal in life and then prioritizing how we spend our time and resources in accordance with that purpose. While we previously discussed numerous methods for keeping one's priorities in order, today we'll focus on one of the most effective – a practice that also serves as a spiritual discipline in and of itself: fasting.
Fasting is an old practice that is practiced by practically every religion (as well as philosophical systems such as Stoicism) and is mentioned in the Bible more than baptism. There's a reason for this widespread acceptance.
Fasting is the most tangible and viscerally embodied of the spiritual disciplines, and its confluence of the physical and metaphysical produces profound, palpable, senses-arousing consequences that bridge the sometimes too-wide divide between body and soul.
Fasting has recently gained popularity for its health benefits alone, but when used as a spiritual discipline, it can open up far more possibilities than can be measured on a scale.
Today, we'll look at how to get the most out of fasting, including how to use it as a critical tune-up for both physical and spiritual fitness.
What Is Fasting?
Fasting is defined as intentionally abstaining from something for a set period of time; it is not fasting if you want to give up the item permanently, however you may choose not to reintroduce it into your life when the fast is completed. Fasts can last anywhere from days to weeks, depending on what is being fasted from.
Some people will abstain from eating solid foods but instead drink juice. Others will abstain from certain foods; Eastern Orthodox Christians, for example, abstain from meat, fish, dairy, olive oil, and wine every Wednesday and Friday.
Fasting from non-nutritive items, such as technology or certain behavioral habits, is also an option.
Fasting, in its most basic and traditional form, entails abstaining from all food and caloric drink (sometimes water as well). While we shall discuss non-dietary fasting later, this is the form that will be the emphasis of this article.
Fasting has received a lot of attention in recent years due to the health benefits it provides. Fasting may help you lose weight, normalize insulin levels, strengthen your immune system, raise human growth hormone, promote cell regeneration, and lengthen your lifespan, according to study. When you give your body a break from processing meals, fat stores are fed, and cells have a chance to repair themselves by destroying old and damaged cells and generating new ones. Fasting, as Fr. Thomas Ryan puts it in his book The Sacred Art of Fasting, “allows the body to rejuvenate itself.” It is a period during which the body burns its waste. It's like spring cleaning.”
Fasting appears to have a vitalizing, balancing effect on the body's hormonal and metabolic systems by “cleaning out the trash,” and practitioners have claimed a sharpening of mental processes as well.
While fasting isn't done for the sole goal of improving one's physical health, the benefits should not be overlooked. As Ryan notes, the discipline has both physical and spiritual benefits:
“It doesn't have to be a binary choice…
Because we are more than our bodies and spirits, it can and should be both. We are spiritual beings who have taken physical form. Energetic flesh. Physically, what is good for me is good for me. And what is excellent for my spiritual well-being is also beneficial for my physical well-being. There's only one'me' to whom everything returns.”
That said, it's vital to remember that the physical is secondary to the spiritual in fasting as a spiritual discipline; as Ryan puts it, “We manage the physical to get access to the spiritual”; fasting “provides bodily experiences that lead to spiritual reality.” The hunger of the stomach is meant to awaken us to the hunger of the soul.
Fasting's physical benefits, in fact, metaphorically reflect its spiritual benefits; just as fasting balances the body's hormones and renews its cells, it recalibrates the soul's priorities and heals damaged and diseased areas in one's character. Fasting purifies the body while also clarifying the soul.
If you don't view fasting as a spiritual discipline, it won't attain to the level of a spiritual discipline. If you fast for spiritual reasons, you'll still reap the physical benefits; however, if you fast for other reasons, the results will be limited to the body, with little impact on the soul.
While the exact spiritual goals of fasting differ depending on one's religion system, there are a number of purposes that are universal:
Teaches That Discomfort Bad
Fasting is, without a doubt, the most countercultural of spiritual practices. In an age of unprecedented conveniences when every environment is climate-controlled, food can be ordered at the touch of a button, entertainment can be perfectly curated to personal taste, and we feel entitled to immediate satisfaction of every desire anything unpleasant seems like an entirely unnecessary annoyance. We expect to be constantly filled and satisfied.
However, fullness isn't always desirable, and emptiness isn't always undesirable. The incessant need for pleasure can be harmful, and a little discomfort now and then can be precisely what we need.
In The Celebration of Discipline: A Memoir, Richard Foster describes how he came to this realization.
“In my early fasting experiences, the first reality that was exposed to me was my craving for good feelings. It's not a bad thing to feel wonderful, but we need to be able to channel that feeling into a place where it doesn't rule us.”
We have come to understand that if we want to improve our physical health, we must endure the agony of exercise. However, we rarely extend this acceptance to other areas of life, where it is equally valid. In order to improve, you must sometimes, almost always, make yourself uncomfortable.
Strengthens the Will
“Fasting shows the things that control us more than any other discipline.” Fasting author Lynne M. Baab
The spirit's will is a muscle similar to the body's; the more it is worked, the stronger it becomes. Fasting, on the other hand, gives our willpower muscle an unrivaled workout that strengthens it not only in terms of what we eat, but in all aspects of life.
This is where fasting and simplicity intersect. To live a simple life, one must maintain order in his purpose-driven priorities his loves. The problem is that baser desires always try to triumph over nobler aspirations.
Fasting allows you to practice choosing higher principles over lesser cravings in a tangible and visceral way. By feeling bodily hunger but ignoring it, you teach yourself that you are in charge of your body and don't follow your stomach's dictates. You teach yourself that you are the master, not the slave, of your appetites.
We must face down our hunger for food when fasting, but this hunger stands in for all of our other gnawing appetites. We learn that by fighting what appears to be an insatiable want to eat, we may postpone other desires that appear to demand immediate attention. We understand we can live without it. We have control over the forces that aim to subjugate us.
Fasting from eating builds self-control, which helps us keep all of our priorities straight and have a better handle on the never-ending conflict between short-term pleasures and long-term ambitions. It's a tangible exercise that aids in the development of that ethereal concept known as character.
“Fasting has been an instinctual and important language in our relationship with the Divine in every culture and religion throughout history.” Fr. Thomas Ryan, C.S.C.
While this is obviously only applicable to theists, it is very important for those who truly believe in God; whenever fasting is addressed in religious literature, it is usually always associated with prayer.
To begin with, combining prayer and fasting demonstrates earnest purpose. “The fast is a declaration,” writes Lynne M. Baab, “that this thing I'm praying for is so important that I'm willing to set aside my entire life including food to pray for it.”
Second, spiritual fasters will frequently designate a specific goal for their fast (answering a question; curing a loved one) and then utilize the hunger pangs generated by fasting as a reminder to pray for it; everytime they notice the bite of their appetite, they offer up a petition. This practice, according to Baab, is similar to “tying a ribbon around your finger to remember God.” Fasting increases the number of times you pray throughout the day in this way.
Physical hunger heightens the importance of one's prayers. If fasting “provides bodily sensations that speak to spiritual reality,” hunger heightens the need to express one's deeper demands. Petitioning transforms into pleading.
Finally, because fasting eliminates the need to eat, the time that would have been spent eating can be spent praying, increasing the frequency and focus of prayers.
What impact do these fasting-induced intensifications have on prayer effectiveness? Depending on your theology, the answer is yes or no.
Some argue that fasting can “release” a blessing or answer that would otherwise be denied that, like the woman and the unjust judge in Jesus' parable, God will listen to those who put forth consistent effort. Others would argue that you can't “manipulate God into doing what we want,” as Baab puts it. Instead, the petitioner receives advice on how to pray and discovers a stronger relationship to God via deeper prayer.
Whether fasting-enhanced prayer alters God's responsiveness to supplications or not, both sides agree that it alters the supplicator's receptivity to God's guidance. The physical emptiness of fasting clears communication channels, allowing spiritual intuitions to be discerned more easily. Fasting is “an action that renews contact with God, like eliminating rust and corrosion from a vehicle battery to allow the electricity to flow more easily,” as Ryan puts it.
If you're having trouble making a decision, rather of merely praying about it, try fasting with your prayers.
Establishes Rhythms Between Absence and Abundance
Fasts are required before several religious feasts: Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians are required to fast on Good Friday before celebrating Easter; Jews are required to fast for 25 hours on Yom Kippur before concluding the holy day with a massive, joyful meal. Christians may feast on “Fat Tuesday” (also known as Mardi Gras) before beginning Lent fasting on Ash Wednesday, while Jews may feast the afternoon before beginning Yom Kippur fasting.
While dedicated followers of these religions continue to follow similar rituals today, most modern people live in continual feast mode, rather than following a periodic cycle of fasting and feasting. We eat quite well all year and then attempt to eat even more during the holidays.
There's no texture to our days, no ying and yang to our timetables, no real anticipation of our holidays in this undeviating, linear state of satiation.
You've certainly heard of the “hedonic treadmill,” which states that while new experiences provide us with a lot of pleasure at first, we quickly adapt to them and our happiness fades. The only way to reclaim the former “high” is to keep chasing it. However, the loop simply repeats itself, trapping us in an endless, unsatisfied circle of longing.
The hedonic treadmill is disrupted and reset by fasting. It rekindles a long-forgotten sense of hunger for food. Our normally saturated senses have a chance to reset during abstention, so that when we eat again, the food has regained some of its “newness” and tastes better than ever. “Hunger is the best spice,” as the adage goes.
Instead of sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner slightly stuffed and then eating till you're bursting at the seams, try not eating for 24 hours before the meal. If you fast before a meal, you'll find a rhythm that makes exceptional events feel even more special.
Fosters Gratitude and Humility
“Drawing on the lessons of great men, I will also teach you a lesson: Set aside a set number of days during which you will be content with the scantiest and cheapest of fare…that it may be a test of yourself rather than a mere hobby…” Then, I guarantee you, my beloved Lucilius, when you are stuffed with a penny's worth of food, you will leap for delight.” Seneca
Fasting, in the context of Thanksgiving, can boost your enjoyment of eating while also making you more appreciative for what you have. You'll be less prone to take it for granted if you go without it for a while.
Fasting also promotes humility in different ways. It's an excellent time to consider your mortality and finiteness your frailty, neediness, and brokenness. You're a delicate organism who need continual external nourishment to function. You'll die if you don't have it for several weeks. You aren't all-knowing and all-powerful. You're not entirely self-sufficient.
For a theist, this feeling of fasting-induced humility can extend to contemplating their ultimate source of life: God. Fasting is typically associated with repentance in religions because it is an outward expression of interior abasement.
Gets You Out of a Rut and Re-Asserts Your Humanity
Regardless of how intelligent, clever, intriguing, or intellectual we feel ourselves to be, our actions can occasionally be Pavlovian. We want a can of Coke if we hear someone open one. We're quickly hungry when we smell anything cooking. Our bellies grumble like clockwork around noon, because that's when we always eat lunch.
And those are simply our eating habits. Then there are our cellphones, which can make us feel like lab rats learning to press a lever in order to acquire their sweets. Check your phone when you get a notification, check your phone when you get a notification, check your phone when you get a notification, check your phone when you get a notification, check your phone when you Press the lever three times, three times, three times. Even if our phone isn't ringing, we'll take a detour to check the screen if we notice it on our dresser.
Even if our actions aren't dictated by reptile instinct, we can fall into some very rigid, and not always beneficial, habits.
Fasting is one of the “dhutanga” austerities – a series of 13 ascetic practices according to Buddhist “Forest Monks.” Dhutanga means “to enliven” or “to shake up,” and fasting (whether from food or electronics) can do just that to the dehumanizing ruts you've fallen into. It creates a life-affirming disruption in your routine.
You are aware of a hunger sensation but choose to ignore it. You usually eat at noon, but you're not planning to eat anything today. You don't pay attention to your phone pinging. You stroll right past your phone on your dresser. “Fasting transmits a great freedom,” argues Baab. I'm not obligated to do things the same way every day. My habits do not enslave me. I have the ability to rearrange things and attempt new ideas.”
Humans are the only creatures capable of choosing to turn off a lower inclination in order to pursue a higher goal.
Builds Solidarity With the Suffering, and Within a Community
The saddest part of having a friend or loved one go through a difficult time is feeling useless and powerless as a bystander to their misery. There's not much you can do except provide words of support, cook them a meal, and send them your thoughts and prayers.
Fasting, at the very least, lends authenticity and pizzazz to those all-too-common thoughts and prayers. By voluntarily enduring a small amount of misery, you allow yourself to feel a small amount of the pain that someone else is experiencing, which makes your empathy more visceral and real, and keeps the person at the forefront of your mind.
Fasting can help people turn their own fears into specific actions, as well as motivate a community that wants to help. When a loved one is in need, a group of friends or a church congregation may unite to fast and pray for him or her on the same day. Even if the fast has no metaphysical effect on the condition of the person going through a difficult time, the fact that a group of people were willing to go beyond their normal routine is comforting “Sending a powerful message of love and support by going beyond “thoughts and prayers” and actually sacrificing something sends a powerful message of love and support. At the same time, the community of fasters comes together since they are unified in purpose and share a little hardship.
According to Baab, there was a time in this country when fasting was considered a communal and civic duty:
“When the British Parliament imposed an embargo on the Port of Boston in 1774, the State of Virginia's legislative body called for a day of public humiliation, prayer, and fasting. In his journal, George Washington noted that he had fasted that day. When the US was about to go to war with France in 1798, John Adams declared a day of profound humiliation, prayer, and fasting. The two chambers of Congress issued a joint resolution during the War of 1812 asking for a day of public humiliation, prayer, and fasting.
Abraham Lincoln called for a day of national humiliation, prayer, and fasting three times during the Civil War. Fasting and prayer were advocated in both places of worship and at home by Lincoln.”
These national days of fasting were intended to beg for heavenly protection and guidance, to strengthen citizens' character in preparation for the challenge ahead, and to foster unity among them.
Evokes Sympathy (and Charitable Giving) for the Poor
While most of us in the modern Western world have enough food to eat every day perhaps too much there are still individuals in the globe, including in our own country, who do not.
Fasting develops a sense of solidarity with these needy and often neglected people; by going without food for a short period of time, you may feel more sympathy for those who do without on a regular basis. However, the goal isn't just to feel sorry for the impoverished; it's to use that sympathy to motivate you to take action. In fact, practically every faith advocates almsgiving as part of the fasting discipline.
Most religions have specific standards for how “formal” religious fasts should be carried out. Most, however, encourage their followers to fast outside of prescribed holy days and other mandatory times.
Whether you're religious and want to start your own fasts or you're not religious but want to give fasting a try, the following guidelines will help you make it a successful and enlightening habit:
Decide the Parameters of Your Fast
During a typical fast, you will abstain from eating and drinking caloric beverages. You might also decide to stop drinking water.
According to research, 16 hours of fasting appears to be the bare minimum required to reap some of the physical health benefits of fasting. So, on the first day, you stop eating at 8 p.m. and don't eat again until noon the next day; you basically skip breakfast. While this is the case, “While “intermittent fasting” is simple enough to practice every day and beneficial to the body, it isn't physically demanding enough to have much of a spiritual impact. However, it can be an excellent approach to start fasting because it helps to balance your blood sugar, making prolonged fasts simpler.
Even if you're new to fasting and haven't done it before, you should be OK stepping right into a 24-hour fast in which you forgo breakfast and lunch the next day, breaking your fast with your next dinner. While exercising on a fasting day is possible, it can increase your hunger and make keeping your fast more difficult, so you may choose to fast on a day when you will be less active.
I'd also advise the newbie to keep drinking water and other non-caloric beverages (which is a must if you're exercising that day). Abstinence from water during a fast has no additional benefits for me; it just makes me feel bad instead of spiritual, and a little coffee can help you resist eating. Keep in mind, though, that artificially sweetened beverages can cause you to salivate for food.
I fast for 24 hours once or twice a week, but even once a month has been proved to have the health benefits indicated above.
Once you've mastered 24-hour food-only fasts, you might wish to try longer fasts or fasting while also avoiding water. Use common sense when fasting, and consult a doctor if you have any medical conditions that would prevent you from fasting.
If you have a health problem that prohibits you from fasting completely, consider limiting your fast to just a few things or going on a non-dietary fast.
Yes, you may “Try fasting from anything in your life that is taking up more space, attention, power, or influence than you'd like, causing your loves to become disordered; consider fasting from anything in your life that is detracting from your greater priorities and needs to be rebalanced.
You can examine the role the thing you're fasting from plays in your life throughout a small period of abstaining. How much do you yearn for it? How important is it to you? Is your life better since it's not there?
You can determine how/if to re-introduce the habit into your life after this evaluation time. You may opt to give it up for good if you realize your life is better without it. Even if you do re-introduce the habit, fasting on a regular basis will help you exercise it with more restraint.
Dedicate Your Fast to a Spiritual Purpose
You won't obtain any spiritual benefit from a fast if you don't go into it deliberately seeking it, as we indicated at the start. None of the aforementioned goals will be realized unless you deliberately focus and think on them during your fast. It's like going for a run; if you want it to be a spiritual experience, it can be, but if you don't, it'll just be a run; the mindset you bring to the practice matters.
So the first step to a successful fast is to know why you're doing it in the first place. You can use your fast to focus on one of the general objectives listed above, such as feeling more appreciative or strengthening your willpower. Your goal could be more specific, such as seeking an answer to a question or praying for someone who is ill. Fasting and sorrow often went hand-in-hand in ancient times, and there is one reason we haven't discussed yet. Fasting on the anniversary of a loss can make the remembrance more visceral and real, and it can simply seem natural to be physically empty to mark the day someone you cared about was stolen from your life.
Take a few moments as you start a fast to think about the reason you're doing it. During your fast, if you pray, tell God your intentions and ask for direction, discernment, insight, strength, and other things. Bring the fast to a close with another period of reflection or prayer, reflecting on how you felt during the fast and what you learned from it.
Follow Strategies That Will Help You Stay the Course and Make Fasting a Cheerful, Even Pleasurable Discipline
You may have tried fasting earlier and discovered that instead of achieving nirvana, you become irritable. Perhaps you were frustrated and upset, and you threw in the towel too soon.
Fasting is supposed to be tough and uncomfortable, and that is part of its appeal. However, sticking to it can be very doable and even enjoyable in its own right. (It's kind of like how a good workout hurts so much.)
Use the following ideas to help you stick to your fasting and make it a pleasurable experience:
Reflect and/or pray about your purpose whenever you get a hunger pain. Allow the ribbon tied around your finger to represent your fast. Instead than seeking for food when you're hungry, take the opportunity to reflect about why you're fasting.
If you can, avoid eating and use mealtimes for spiritual practice. While being in the presence of food and refusing it increases the will, don't go beyond what you can bear. It will be more difficult for you to keep to your fast if you hang out in a kitchen while cookies bake or sit at a table where everyone else is eating.
Stay away from food-filled environments if at all possible, and utilize the time you've saved by skipping meals to engage in some other spiritual practices seek solitude, pray, meditate, study, and, of course, think on why you're fasting.
Expect “clockwork” hunger pangs and ignore them. If you eat at the same times every day, your body will begin to release hunger-inducing chemicals as the times get closer. When you feel these pains, remember that you aren't actually hungry and that your body is only acting on instinct. In fact, part of what makes fasting healthy is that it disrupts these routines on occasion, and knowing that fact can be motivating.
When you're tempted to give in, repeat mantras to yourself. When hunger starts to get the best of you, repeat mantras like these to remind yourself of your purpose:
Remember that this is something that billions of people do all the time. Fasting can feel like a huge, nearly impossible effort if you're new to it. Just keep in mind that this is something that a lot of individuals do on a regular basis. Once a month, Mormons observe a fast. During Ramadan, Muslims fast for the entire month.
What is the spiritual purpose of fasting?
WHAT EXACTLY IS FASTING? Fasting is a spiritual discipline that the Bible recommends. Fasting is something Jesus expects His disciples to do, and He claims that God praises fasting. According to the Bible, fasting is defined as purposefully reducing or eliminating food consumption for a certain period and purpose.
What does the Bible say about spiritual fasting?
Fasting is a way of humbling oneself before God (Psalm 35:13; Ezra 8:21). “I humbled my soul through fasting,” King David remarked (Psalm 69:10). When you fast, you may find yourself relying more heavily on God for strength. Fasting and prayer can assist us in better hearing God.
Why is fasting a religious thing?
Fasting, he explained, isn't simply a method to get rid of something from your life; it's also a way to replace it and complement it with prayer. Fasting, according to the reverend, is a way for believers to refocus their attention on God.
“That's why we don't have to fast from food anymore,” Lavarin explained. “Food is the usual notion of fasting, but in actuality anything that may take up your attention can be fasted from.” “So, I know that one thing that is becoming increasingly popular for fasting today is social media.”
How long should you fast for spiritual?
Fasting duration is also determined by personal inclination and ability. Fasting for long periods of time is not possible for certain people due to health issues. Others may fast for several days at a time. Remember, the purpose of fasting is to strengthen your relationship with God. It is not a question of how many days or how long one can fast. Fasting is a very personal experience with the Lord. As a result, there's no need to compare how long you've been fasting to how long others have been fasting.
Before you start fasting, I urge that you pray and ask the Lord how long you should fast for. If you're new to fasting, I recommend beginning with one meal or one day. You can continue for extended lengths of time after you are more conscious of and familiar with the topic. You may decide after the first day that you want to continue for a longer period of time. Keep track of how your body feels if this is the case. You may feel lightheaded and weak if your body isn't used to fasting. Once your body has become accustomed to fasting, you will be able to fast for extended periods of time without experiencing these symptoms.
The length of your fast is also determined by what you're fasting from. You should not fast for longer than two or three days if you are fasting both food and drink. Furthermore, if you are only fasting from food, you can fast for extended periods of time. Some people will abstain from eating and drinking, but will sip juice to stay energized.
Types of Fasting
Abstaining from social media, entertainment, sex, sweet meals, or a variety of other things is another type of fasting. You can fast for substantially longer lengths of time if you choose to fast from the following items. This is due to the fact that these fasts have no negative impact on your health. In fact, they may help you live a healthier life. Fasting from these foods for prolonged lengths of time is something I suggest.
If you're married, make sure you have an agreement on sex abstinence with your partner. “Do not deprive each other except by mutual permission and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer,” Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 7:5. Then get back together so Satan can't tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
What are three biblical reasons to fast?
If you're reading this, you're probably curious about why Christians fast, or why you should fast yourself. Both of these questions will be addressed in this blog. Christians fast for a variety of reasons, and it's crucial to note that these reasons differ from one individual to the next.
What are the biblical justifications for fasting? While there are many reasons for Christians to fast, the three most common are Biblical requirements, spiritual disciplines, and health benefits. Nearness to God, spiritual freedom, guidance, waiting for Jesus' return, and, of course, a healthy physique are all reasons for Christian fasting.
How do you fast for God?
So, now that you know what fasting is and why it's important, where do you start? Twenty various recommendations are provided here to assist you get started fasting and stay motivated.
Identify The Purpose
The first step in fasting for any Christian is to figure out why you're fasting. Do you want to empty your stomach through fasting? Do you want to improve your connection with God? Are you fasting to show your support for the poor? It's crucial to understand why you're fasting. It establishes a context for your experience.
Commit to a Time Period
The second stage in fasting is deciding on a certain time period and committing to it. When you're a newbie, it's not a good idea to go for a long period of time without eating or drinking anything.
Try to work out what is realistic, and keep your commitment fresh in your mind.
Find Your Weaknesses
Try to predict your weaknesses, or the times when you will feel the worst or most tempted to eat, before the fast begins. Pray for God to provide you with the strength you require when you require it, and He will.
Tell only a Few People
According to Acts 16, when a believer in Christ fasts in secret, he or she will be blessed. You should just tell two or three people that you're fasting. It doesn't matter if it's a spouse, a sibling, or a friend. They may also serve as a partner in terms of accountability.
What Jesus said about fasting?
THIS KIND requires a combination of prayer and fasting. It is the need that motivates us to be afflicted by our bodies and to be determined to hear from God.
Matthew 17:16-21, Matthew 17:16-21, Matthew 17:16-21, Matthew “I carried him to thy disciples, but they were unable to heal him.” Then Jesus replied, “How long shall I be with you, O faithless and perverse generation?” How much longer will I put up with you? Please bring him here to me. And Jesus rebuked the devil, and he left him; and the child was healed at that same moment. The disciples then approached Jesus separately and said, “Why couldn't we cast him out?” Because of your unbelief: for truly I say unto you, If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible for you. However, this kind is not extinguished except by prayer and fasting.”
What is fasting, the next question that needs to be answered? Fasting is about letting go of the apparent in order to connect with the unseen. We may deprive ourselves of food, sleep, or any other aspect of life. Fasting is a self-inflicted and expected part of a Christian's life from time to time.
6:16-18, Matthew 6:16-18, Matthew 6:18, Matthew 6: “Moreover, when ye fast, do not be of a sad countenance, as the hypocrites are, for they disfigure their faces in order to appear to mankind to fast.” They have had their reward, I assure you. But anoint thy head and wash thy face when thou fastst, that thou appear not to mankind to fast, but to thy Father who seeth in secret, and thy Father who seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.”
It's important to note that it's when you fast, not if you fast. We're also encouraged not to make a big deal out of our fasting; it's a private matter between us and God.
When should we fast, and why should we fast? Let's look at some examples from the Bible.
“Sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the people of the land into the temple of the Lord your God, and cry unto the Lord,” Joel 1:14 says. We are to call for a fast to express our dedication or to show God we mean business. 2:12, Joel “Therefore now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, fasting, weeping, and mourning:”
“And they said unto me, The remnant of the captivity who are left in the province are in great sorrow and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem is also torn down, and its gates are burned with fire,” Nehemiah 1:3-4. When I heard these words, I sat down and grieved, and mourned for certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven.”
“So the people of Ninevah believed God, and declared a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them,” Jonah 3:5 says.
Their lives were spared as a result of their fasting. By fasting, King David hoped to release God's mercy for his baby. Despite the fact that it was not to be, David understood the principle of fasting.
“David then besought God for the infant; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth,” says II Samuel 12:16.
We should fast when we need direction and are determined to hear from God. When things are going well, though, we should fast as part of our ministry and commitment to God.
“As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the task whereunto I have called them,” according to Acts 13:2. It's a requirement of our service till the Bridegroom arrives. “And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, who did not leave the temple, but worshiped God with fastings and prayers night and day,” Luke 2:37 says.
Seeking God's Direction
Moses spent forty days and forty nights with the Lord without eating or drinking anything. And he inscribed the covenant's wordsthe Ten Commandmentson the tablets.
Moses fasted for forty days with the Lord, relying on Him for direction, wisdom, and guidance as he wrote the Ten Commandments.
Moses went 40 days without eating or drinking, which is considered as one of the Bible's “supernatural absolute” fasts.
It's termed “supernatural” or “miraculous” because it's generally highly dangerous, and he was only sustained miraculously by God throughout that time.
Moses was not only sustained during his fast, but he was also given insight and direction by God.
Fasting For Humility
…I declared a fast in order for us to humble ourselves before our God and ask for a safe voyage for us and our children, with all of our belongings…. So we fasted and prayed to our God about it, and he granted our request.
It was a method for them to humble themselves in front of the Lord while they prayed for protection.
Fasting for Freedom
Fasting has a far deeper meaning than merely abstaining from meals for a period of time.
It's about facing your deepest, most heinous sins, untying the yoke's ropes, and breaking free.
Return To God With Repentance
This was a call to repentance, a cry to return to God's kindness and unfailing love.
Even in the Old Testament, God was not asking for fasting solely for the sake of fasting. Fasting was a means for them to demonstrate their sincere desire to return to God.
Fast For Intimacy With God, Not Praise From Man
“When you fast, don't wear a solemn expression like the hypocrites, who disfigure their faces to show that they're fasting. I can assure you that they have received their full reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it is not obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who sees what is done in secret, and he will reward you.”
Our intentions matter as Christians. Our faith elevates life to a new level. It's possible to do everything well on the outside, but without the appropriate heart, it's pointless.
If you're fasting to be seen as a hero by others, “You're doing it wrong, Christian,” says the good Christian.
You're fasting incorrectly if your heart can only focus on the things you lack (in this example, food) rather than a hunger that pushes you into the arms of your Savior to meet your needs.
During the 40 days of Lent, don't fast for attention, recognition, or the sake of not-so-silent suffering.
Fast in order to draw closer to God and rely on Him on a deeper level than previously.
Grow in Spiritual Strength
Despite this, He resisted the constant temptations that Satan threw at Him.
He wasn't counting on a protein-rich meal or a good night's sleep to keep his mind sharp enough to fight the demon.
When we choose to stand on God's Word in our human imperfection, fasting can empower us spiritually.
New Wine Into New Wineskins
The disciples of John then approached him and inquired, “How come we and the Pharisees fast frequently, but your disciples don't?”
Jesus said, “How can the bridegroom's guests be sad while he is present? The bridegroom will be taken from them at some point, and they will fast.
“No one ever sews an unshrunk cloth patch onto an old clothing because the patch will pull away from the garment, worsening the tear.
No one pours new wine into old wine bottles. The skins will burst, the wine will run out, and the wineskins will be ruined if this happens. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, preserving both.”
The entire point of the disciples' and Pharisees' fasting was to express a desire for the day when God would show up and bless Israel once more.
But, surprise, surprise, Jesus was right there with them! There was no reason to fast at that time.
However, Jesus said immediately afterward, “The bridegroom will be taken from them at some point, and they will fast.”
But, unlike the Pharisees, our fasting is no longer associated with sadness. Instead, it's overflowing with longing because we know Jesus has come and will return!
Seeking The Holy Spirit's Guidance
So they placed their hands on them and sent them off after fasting and praying.
It appears that the church in this area fasted for the Holy Spirit's guidance.
They had no idea what to do next and were desperate for God's guidance.
These people had a strong desire to know what the church's future moves should be.
Praying and Fasting
…and then she became a widow at the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple and worshipped at all hours of the day and night, fasting and praying.
Fasting is mentioned in so many Bible scriptures that also include prayer. The two appear to be inextricably linked.
Jesus fasted and prayed. So did the disciples, John the Baptist's followers, and many others.
Fasting and praying were fundamental spiritual disciplines in the Old Testament, and they were still potent ways to approach God on a deeper level in the New Testament.
How do you pray when fasting?
Fasting is a long-standing tradition. Consider Israel's Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), David's fast after his kid died, or Nineveh's repentance fast (see Leviticus 23; 2 Samuel 12; and Jonah 3). Fasting and prayer are also common in the New Testament. Both Anna the Prophetess and John the Baptist fasted in anticipation for Christ's arrival (see Luke 2; Mark 2). Jesus went on a fast as well. Consider Jesus' forty-day fasting in the desert at the commencement of his public ministry, as well as his command to his disciples to pray, fast, and give alms (Matthew 4, 6). Fasting was also a practice in the early Church, as we know (Acts 13 and 14).
“Fasting purifies the soul, lifts the mind, subordinates one's flesh to the spirit, humbles the heart, scatters the clouds of concupiscence, quenches the fire of lust, and kindles the real light of chastity.” – Augustine of Hippo
Why you might pray through fasting
Fasting can be done for a variety of reasons, some of which are beneficial and others which are detrimental. Fasting for weight loss, feeling more worthy of God's love, or comparing oneself to others are all terrible reasons to fast. Fasting should be done for the love of God. (In fact, every action in the Christian life can be said to be the same.) Love of God and love of neighbor should always be our motivation.)
It's also worth mentioning that abstaining from sin does not constitute fasting. Yes, we should break our bad habits and everything else that prevents us from God, but just because we're giving up something (in this example, sin) doesn't mean we're fasting. We're only carrying out our responsibilities!
What are some of the benefits of fasting? Fasting assists us in preparing for liturgical feasts like as Easter, mastering our inclinations, developing healthy spiritual habits, growing in humility and dependence on God, offering a sacrifice for an aim, and becoming more linked with Christ. Consider fasting if any of these good reasons resonate with you.
How to pick your fast
It's crucial to figure out how you're going to fast (from what, for how long, for what reason, etc.) before you start. Here are a few things to think about:
Start simple, such as foregoing snacks between meals on Fridays or skipping your afternoon coffee once a week, if you haven't fasted in a long time. Starting small is a good idea since it keeps our pride in our work in check “Fasting allows you to achieve “big accomplishments,” and it helps you develop a habit and momentum. Fasting can be compared to running. You might be able to keep up for a while if you suddenly chose to start jogging a great distance every day, but without a previous foundation of running, you would quickly burn out. Similarly, we can certainly stick to a substantial and unexpected fast for a few days, but our determination fades soon. It's preferable to start a small fast that we'll stick to than to start a big one that we'll quickly quit.
Fasting does not have to be complicated. That is why food is such a natural choice for so many individuals. We can be assured that we will crave food at specific times of the day, that giving it up would be a sacrifice, and that skipping an occasional meal (for most individuals in good physical health) will have no serious detrimental consequences. Still, we can fast from a variety of other things: alcohol, conveniences, media, hobbies, pastimes, the Internet, and so forth.
Use your best judgment. Your fast should be a valid sacrifice, but it should not become a punishment for you or a financial burden for your family. Fasting from driving to work would be a true sacrifice, but it's probably not a good idea if it makes your kids late for school and gets you unhappy when you arrive home from work. Keep in mind that you've chosen to fast out of love.
If you get an idea for a fast and instantly rationalize why you shouldn't do it, it can be a good sign that you should consider fasting from it. The majority of rationalizations are merely surface-level explanations that mask a deeper, real motivation. Rationalizations sound like, in the case of fasting “That would be an excellent fast, but
That's how I unwind every day.” Alternatively, “Yes, indeed. That's something I could do, but it's the only thing I get to do for myself.” Justifications, on the other hand, are truth-based arguments that correlate to rationalizations.
genuine motives They seem to be saying, “Yes, indeed. However, my doctor advises that I consume three complete meals per day.” Alternatively, “Yes, indeed. But giving it up makes me irritable and makes it difficult for me to sleep.”
We have biblical justifications for secret fasting (see Matthew 6). Simultaneously, if someone notices our fast and inquires about it, there's no harm in discussing it. Similarly, involving our spouse, close friends, or spiritual director in our fasting decisions might be beneficial. They can assist us in keeping our heads clear and our plans on track. Remember that fasting is a tremendous weapon against evil, and the adversary will do everything he can to confuse and discourage us when we are fasting. Friendship is valuable and beneficial, and their support or direction does not negate our sacrifice.
Having a start date, an end date, and a general plan for a fast will help you make a more informed decision and boost your chances of sticking to it. Setting two alarms in the morning, for example, almost always means snoozing the first and relying on the second. Similarly, if you plan to decide on your fast on the spur of the moment, you'll be more likely to back out of your commitment. You'll be more likely to complete your fast if you set a precise time and duration for it. Consider the following scenario: “For the next three weeks, I will not watch television Monday through Thursday.”
How to pray your fast
You're ready to begin your fast once you've decided on the specifics of your fast while keeping the aforementioned in mind.
Fasting is an excellent way to make a sacrifice in support of a goal. Consider offering your fast in exchange for something specific. This will provide you with extra incentive and help you stick to your goals.
Invite God to be with you as you begin your fast. Then, for your chosen aim, present your fast, pray for the grace to finish it, and tell God that you welcome anything he chooses to bring out of it as a gift. If your fast occurs at a set time during the day, you can say a prayer like this every time the occasion comes. If not, you can do it during your customary prayer time each day of the fast.
Fasting isn't a test, and it doesn't necessitate a perfect score. This is prayer, and God is calling us to constancy, not perfection, in our prayers. Don't give up or become frustrated if you break a fast or forget to complete it. Simply recommit to your fast, request God to join you in it as described above, and keep going as best you can.
How do you spiritually fast?
A spiritual fast is a deliberate decision to refrain from eating modern foods. This has the advantage of aiding in the removal of toxins from your body. But it's not only about staying away from contaminants. Spiritual fasting has advantages since it helps us become more conscious of our connections. We do this to enhance and deepen our spirituality.
Our interactions are intertwined with our environment, bodies, and souls, as Hildegard believed. As a result, when observing a spiritual fast, you should consider all aspects of your life. To that end, we've included some of Hildegard's advice to assist you on your journey. Here are a few pointers to help you have a good spiritual fast:
The spiritual fasting regimen advocated by Hildegard of Bingen is deemed “gentle.” It only allows a few things, mostly soup and a few fruits and vegetables. Depending on your preferences, you can taper off as you continue through the program or not.