Face to Face Consecration
There has been a resurgence of fasting in recent decades, as God calls His people to regular fasting as part of a normal Christian lifestyle. We must prepare ourselves adequately so that the fast can honor God and fulfill its purpose. The following is a general overview of biblical precedent and guidelines for wise fasting to help and encourage you!
Fasting is a powerful spiritual experience to help followers of Jesus Christ develop a more intimate relationship with their Lord, seek answers to prayer, and grow in the love and knowledge of the Savior. The purpose of spiritual fasting is to consecrate (set aside) a specific period of time to draw closer to God to hear from Him.
The practice of regular fasting as normal Christian behavior was taught by Jesus (Mt. 6:16–17, 9:15), exercised by the early church (Acts 13:2), and has been the regular discipline of believers throughout church history. The practice of fasting in Scripture usually includes, but is not limited to, abstinence from food (Dan. 10:3) and may be engaged in for varying durations—typically for no more than a few days at a time.
Though spiritual leaders may invite others to join in corporate fasting with a specific goal in mind and for a specific time, fasting can never be forced or made compulsory. The level at which a person engages in fasting (particularly food) should be determined according to age, and with regard to any physical limitations.
Minors are discouraged from fasting food and should never engage in fasting without express parental consent and oversight. Minors who desire to fast are encouraged to consider non-food abstentions, such as TV, movies, Internet surfing, video games and other entertainment. If older teenagers do fast food under their parents’ supervision, encourage them to use juice and protein drinks to sustain them, out of consideration for their health and metabolism.
Participation in regular fasting as a lifestyle necessitates a healthy lifestyle on days when food is not being fasted, and should include exercise and a proper diet. A “fasted lifestyle” is a disciplined lifestyle, in which we steward our bodies and time with wisdom and diligence. Fasting is not only abstention; it is an exchange where we abstain from certain things in order to “feast” on God’s Word and prayer, whereby the abundance of His grace is made more readily available to us. When undertaken with this type of commitment, a fasted lifestyle is sustainable on a long-term basis, just as it was for Daniel and his friends (Dan. 1).
Fasting for the body, soul and spirit
The Bible teaches us that we are a spirit, we have a soul and we live in a body. Fasting affects all three parts of us!
The Body – Certainly our bodies are affected as our diet is changed, for some in very dramatic ways, during the Daniel Fast. The Daniel Fast is a plant-based eating plan with the only beverage being water. When the bodies that God designed and created are fed the good quality foods He created, especially for it improvements in health result. The high fiber in the fruit, vegetables and whole grains cleanses the body and improves digestion. It’s not uncommon for cholesterol levels to drop, for blood sugar levels to balance, for weight to be lost and for a general feeling of well-being to be experienced. Many men and women experience detoxing from caffeine, chemicals and sugar. The symptoms are most often headaches, leg cramps, fatigue and malaise.
The Soul – Frequently referred to as “the flesh” in the Bible, the soul is also greatly impacted during the Daniel Fast. The soul is the seat of our emotions, intellect, personality and will. It is in the “soulish realm” where we experience cravings, frustration, anger. During the fast, your soul may very well rebel against the dramatic change in your diet. Experiencing and winning this battle over the flesh is often one of the most powerful lessons of fasting.
The Spirit – Our spirit is that born-again part of us that surrenders to God and then abides with the Father and the Son. Our spirit is filled with the Holy Spirit when we yield to Him. During the fast, we want to put our spirit in charge of the other two parts of us. When our flesh is acting out with a craving, we take control of it with our spirit (just as a parent takes control of a rebellious child).
The Benefits of Fasting
While the physical impact of fasting is real, the spiritual benefits of fasting are undeniable. Any fast undertaken must be done with spiritual wholeheartedness and wisdom when dealing with our physical body; we must count the cost honestly and honor the temple of the Holy Spirit. Whether we are partaking or abstaining, everything should be for the glory of God.
Physically Preparing for a Fast
Prepare your body for the fast and prevent constipation during and after the fast by eating certain preventative foods at least two days beforehand such as: fresh fruit and raw vegetables, fruit or vegetable juices, oatmeal
Eat smaller meals a few days prior to the fast
Avoid high-fat and sugary foods before the fast
You can fast in many different ways. Pray and ask God what he will give you faith for in terms of the duration of the fast
• A Daniel fast, with vegetables and water
• A fruit or vegetable juice fast allows you to enter into fasting but still gives enough energy to function. Many people have done a 40-day juice fast. If you have sugar sensitivities or problems (e.g. diabetes), consult your doctor before attempting this (or any other) fast.
• A water-only fast. We would not encourage this without strong medical supervision, particularly in the case of young people.
Helpful Hints for Your Fast (Physical)
Drink plenty of water, at least 6-8 glasses each day
It is wise to abstain from stimulants such as caffeinated and sugary drinks during a fast, including the artificial sweeteners found in diet drinks
If you are on a juice fast, drink raw fruit juices such as apple, grape and pineapple, which are excellent sources of necessary natural sugar to stabilize blood sugar and keep energy levels up
Expect some physical discomforts because of the detoxification process, especially on the second day. You may have fleeting hunger pains or dizziness. Withdrawal from caffeine and sugar may cause headaches, but it is a part of the detoxification process. Physical annoyances may also include weariness, tiredness, nausea and sleepiness.
Seek medical advice before the fast if you have any existing medical concerns or conditions. If you are under 18 years of age, discuss your desire to fast with your parents. Spiritual covering, submission, and unity are important factors when fasting.
Helpful Hints for Your Fast (Spiritual)
Fast and pray in order to humble yourself and purify your worship. In fasting we are not trying to get something from God, but seeking to realign our hearts’ affections with His. In fasting we can more readily say, “We love you, Lord, more than anything in the world.” Lust of any kind is perverted worship, but fasting enables us to cleanse the sanctuary of our hearts from every other rival.
Don’t boast about your fast. Let people know you won’t be eating only if necessary (Mt. 6:16–18)
Take time to pray and read the Word. This may seem obvious, but busyness and distractions can keep you from devotions.
Expect to hear God’s voice in the Word, dreams, visions and revelations. Daniel prepared himself to receive revelation through fasting (Dan. 10:1–2). There is a fasting reward (Mt. 6:18)
Prepare for opposition. On the day of your fast you can bet that donuts will be at the office or in class. Your spouse (or your mom) will suddenly be inspired to cook your favorite meals. Press through. Satan tempted Jesus on the fast, and we must expect the same. Discouragement may come in like a flood, but recognize the source and take your stand on the victory of Christ.
If you fail, don’t give in to condemnation. The “to fast or not to fast” dilemma can be a major tool of the enemy. Even though you may fail several times, God always extends grace. Just hit the “delete” button and continue on your fast!
Feel free to rest a lot and continue to exercise with supervision.
Breakthroughs often come after a fast, not during it. Do not listen to the lie that nothing is happening. Every fast done in faith will be rewarded.
How to Successfully Break Your Fast
Break your fast gradually. At this point you will need to exercise self-control. Break your fast on a meal that is light and easy to digest.
A fast of three days or more should never be broken by eating a normal meal (including animal proteins, bread, sugar, dairy and processed foods) because these heavy foods put a severe strain on the digestive organs which have been resting throughout the fast. Eating too heavily after a fast can produce serious discomfort and can nullify the physical benefits of fasting; it can also cause serious complications.
After breaking an extended fast, continue drinking fruit or vegetable juices because the stomach is continuing to detoxify.
If you have been prone to eat too heavily, guard against going back to this habit. If you train yourself to eat more lightly, your stomach will adjust itself accordingly.
It is important after a fast to begin to discern between real hunger and cravings so you do not feed your cravings.
Important Medical Information
Those with a known or suspected physical disability or illness, or those with any history of an eating disorder, should never fast, except in consultation with, and under the supervision of, a qualified doctor. Pregnant or nursing mothers should not fast food or drink as it could negatively affect the health and development of their baby and their own personal health.
Years of fasting incorrectly can cause permanent physical damage to your body. These negative effects are not typically felt at a young age, but they will accumulate after years of fasting. In their zeal, some people have begun fasting in an extreme way before understanding how fasting physically affects the body; increasing your understanding and taking care of your body while both fasting and eating will ensure your ability to live the fasted lifestyle for many years to come.
• Pregnant or nursing mothers should never fast all food and/or drink, as fasting could be very dangerous to their baby’s development and health, and their own personal health. Pregnant or nursing mothers could engage in types of fasting such as giving up certain kinds of food. Any kind of fasting which leads to detoxification could be dangerous to the baby as the toxins can affect the baby via the mother’s milk or her bloodstream.
People who have struggled with eating disorders in the past, should undertake any fasting with wisdom and caution. Fasting should not be used as a motive for weight-loss; it is important to enter back into “normal” healthy eating after a long fast (as described in the previous section).
If you have a diagnosed illness and/or are taking prescription medicine, fasting should only be done under the direct supervision of a doctor or healthcare professional.
Some people have trouble fasting and become extremely hungry, dizzy and nauseous because they have undiagnosed low blood sugar, so they should drink fruit and vegetable juices to help keep the blood sugar stable during short fasts. If the juice contains too much sugar for your system, dilute it by 50 percent with water or drink a “green drink” (made by juicing carrots, celery, spinach and parsley). If these or any symptoms persist, you should stop fasting and seek immediate professional help from a doctor or healthcare professional.
If you are having digestive trouble after breaking a fast (i.e., diarrhea), mix a cup of unsweetened applesauce with a cup of cooked brown rice. This should stop the diarrhea. Also, take digestive enzymes (inquire at your local health store) to aid your stomach’s digestive transition
Food guidelines for observing the Daniel Fast
Foods to eat:
• Whole Grains: brown rice, oats, rolled oats, oatmeal, barley, corn, popcorn, wheat
• Legumes: dried beans, pinto beans, split peas, lentils, black eyed peas, peanuts, soybeans, tofu (It is made out of soybeans). Grain legumes include beans, lentils, lupins, peas and peanuts.
• Fruits: apples, apricots, bananas, blackberries, blueberries, boysenberries, cantaloupe, cherries, cranberries, oats, figs, grapefruit, grapes, guava, honeydew melon, kiwi, lemons, limes, mangoes, melons, nectarines, oranges, papayas, peaches, pears, pineapples, plums, prunes, raisins, raspberries, strawberries, tangelos, tangerines, watermelon, etc.
• Vegetables: artichokes, asparagus, beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chili peppers, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, gingerroot, kale, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, mustard greens, okra, onions, parsley, potatoes, radishes, rutabagas, scallions, spinach, sprouts, squashes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, turnips, watercress, yams, zucchini
• Seeds: all nuts, natural peanut butter, natural almond butter, sprouts, ground flax
• Liquids: spring water, distilled water, 100% all natural fruit or vegetable juices
• Dairy products: non-fat yogurt and milk might be acceptable. Pray about it and decide with the Lord’s direction before you start your fast.
Foods to Avoid:
• white flour and all products using it
• white rice, white bread, hominy and pasta
• fried foods
• carbonated beverages, including diet sodas
• foods containing preservatives or additives
• refined sugar and chemical sugar substitutes
• margarine, shortening, animal fat, high fat products
This Handout is for Informational Purposes Only
The information in this handout has been gleaned from the Int’l House of Prayer and reflects only limited opinions, experience, and suggestions. It is not meant to substitute the advice provided by your doctor or other healthcare professionals.
You should not use this information for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication. Additionally, this information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. These tips have been found helpful and successful, but they are no guarantee you will fast without experiencing any difficulties. You will need to do your own research, talk with health experts and experienced fasters, and continually ask the Lord for increased discernment and wisdom concerning fasting and healthy living.
Additional Resources on Fasting
The Rewards of Fasting, Mike Bickle and Dana Candler
Fast Forward, Lou Engle
Shaping History through Prayer and Fasting, Derek Prince
The Genesis Diet, Dr. Gordon Tessler
God’s Chosen Fast, Arthur Wallis
Hunger for God, John Piper