Tips for Successful Fasting
Excerpt from "7 Basic Steps to Successful Fasting and Prayer" by Bill Bright
1. Set Your Objective
Why are you fasting? Is it for spiritual renewal, for guidance, for healing, for the resolution of problems, for special grace to handle a difficult situation? Ask the Holy Spirit to clarify His leading and objectives for your time of prayer and fasting. This will enable you to pray more specifically and strategically.
2. Make Your Commitment
Pray about the kind of fast you should undertake.
- How long will you fast—one meal, one day, five days, one week?
- The type of fast God wants you to undertake (water only, water and juices, “Daniel fast”—just vegetables, or fasting from some other fleshly desire such as television, sports, chocolate, etc..)
- What physical or social activities will you restrict
- How much time each day will you devote to prayer and God’s Word
Making these commitments ahead of time will help you sustain your fast when physical temptations and life’s pressures tempt you to abandon it.
3. Prepare Yourself Spiritually
The very foundation of fasting and prayer is repentance. Unconfessed sin will hinder your prayers.
Psalm 66:18, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.” (NKJ)
Here are several things you can do to prepare your heart:
- Confess any sin that the Holy Spirit calls to your remembrance and accept God’s forgiveness (1 John 1:9)
- Seek forgiveness from all whom you have offended, and forgive all who have hurt you (Matt. 11:25; Luke11:4; 17:3-4)
- Surrender your life fully to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Master; refuse to obey your worldly nature (Romans 12:1-2)
- Begin your time of fasting and prayer with an expectant heart (Hebrews 11:6)
- Do not underestimate spiritual opposition. Satan sometimes intensifies the natural battle between body and spirit (Gal. 5:16-17)
4. Prepare Yourself Physically
Fasting requires reasonable precautions. Consult your physician first, especially if you take prescription medication or have a chronic ailment. Some persons should never fast without professional supervision.
- Prepare your body. Eat smaller meals before starting a fast. Avoid high-fat and sugary foods.
- Try tapering back on caffeine (coffee, cokes) prior to fasting to help alleviate caffeine withdrawal.
- Eat raw fruit and vegetables for two days before starting a fast.
WHILE YOU FAST
- Limit your activity
- Exercise only moderately
- Rest as much as possible
- Prepare yourself for temporary mental discomforts, such as impatience, crankiness, and anxiety
- Expect some physical discomforts, especially on the second day. You may have fleeting hunger pains, dizziness, or the “blahs.” Withdrawal from caffeine and sugar may cause headaches. Physical annoyances may also include weakness, tiredness, or sleeplessness
5. Put Yourself on a Schedule
For maximum spiritual benefit, set aside ample time to be alone with the Lord. Listen for His leading. The more time you spend with Him, the more meaningful your fast will be. Make scheduled times in the morning and evening that you will spend time with the Lord without any distractions. Try to make several “quiet times” in your daily schedule (these need not be long, maybe 2-3 minutes) to simply praise God and give Him thanks (Col. 3:15).
6. End Your Fast Gradually
Begin eating gradually. Do not eat solid foods immediately after your fast. Sudden reintroducing solid food to your stomach and digestive tract will likely have a negative effect. Try several smaller meals or snacks each day. Be especially cautious of reintroducing red meats & dairy to your diet. This could cause a shock to your system.