Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Proper Way to Fast

Mat 6:16
Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

Mat 6:17
But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;

Mat 6:18
That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

Is there a proper and/or improper way to fast?

Many have mistakenly read these verses, and said that you are to never tell anyone when you are fasting. I do not believe that this is what Jesus was saying. He was again drawing comparisons to the way that the Pharisees fasted for show and how His disciples were to act. Just as in their praying, where they stood on the street corners and prayed aloud so that everyone passing by could see them and think that they were super-spiritual, the Pharisees also approached fasting in this same manner. They would walk about with long and saddened faces, and when someone asked them why they looked the way they did, they would proudly proclaim, "I'm fasting!" The attention was again on them and not the Lord.

When we fast, it is often impossible to not tell someone. Eating has become such a social aspect of our culture that you may have to tell someone you're fasting in order to decline an invitation to go out to eat or something of the sort. It is also wise to tell your wife, so she doesn't go and cook a big meal for you and then you have to say, "I'm sorry honey, I can't eat tonight." Furthermore, it is wise to get a circle of friends praying for you to withstand temptation during the fast. Also, if you are going on an extended fast, say more than 2 weeks, you need to monitor your heart rate and blood pressure regularly. It may be wise to consult a physician to help you monitor this.

If you go on an extended fast, what can you expect? You can expect to battle the world, the flesh and the devil. You will battle the world who might make fun of you if they find out what you are doing. You will battle with the forces of hell as God opens your eyes to the supernatural and spirit realm. And you will definitely battle your flesh, which will whine, kick and scream making you feel famished, stomach pangs, headaches and faint. These are also natural reactions of your body as it comes down off of its sugar high that it has been on.

The first week, your body is having withdrawals from sugar. The 2nd week, your body is detoxifying. So, these 2 weeks will be an extreme roller coaster ride physically, emotionally and spiritually. However, if you are being led don't let the pain stop you. Continue to say no to your flesh and deny it, taking up your cross. He has promised to show you great and mighty things which you do not know. As the old saying goes, "No pain, No gain!" After your body detoxes, the pain, nausea and ill feelings usually subside.

Having said that, I must make a disclaimer at this point. Some people such as diabetics and pregnant or nursing mothers should not fast as it would be dangerous physically to do so. But most people can fast and be ok.

So, what is fasting? Normally fasting is going without food for an extended period of time to focus on the spiritual man. In the Bible, they fasted for periods of 1 day, 3 days, 7 days, 10 days, 21 days and 40 days. The 3 day fast was w/o food and water. Your body can't survive w/0 water for over 3 days, BTW. It can do w/o food for up to 40 days, normally. But you should never go on a 40 day fast w/0 consulting a doctor first.

When you fast, your body will detox on all 3 levels - physically, emotionally and spiritually. You will also discover a greater awareness of all 3 levels that make up who you are. You will see more clearly, think more clearly and hear from God more clearly. It is something that we should do under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Notice Jesus said, "When you fast," not if you fast. There is only 1 period in history where God's people did not fast. That was when Jesus was on earth.

Mar 2:18
And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not?

Mar 2:19
And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.

Mar 2:20
But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.

Now, we do not have the luxury of Jesus physically walking and talking with us. We do have the Holy Spirit living inside of us. As we fast and pray, our spirit man will be able to greater communicate with the Holy Spirit, and we will have his power and discernment released in us in a greater way! Pray and if the Lord is leading you to fast, don't fear! JUST DO IT IN FAITH!


Colvin5776 said...

Thanks so much for that!! I like how you explained about telling others to pray. I was always told to besure to tell your wife...but I do like the idea of telling others who will pray for you during this fast. I have a question though.

I have heard some people use a energy drink for extended fasts in order to keep the body going a bit...is this ok??

Nathan Wilkerson said...

I'm not sure if it is right or wrong. I usually drink juice (fruit or vegetable) when I would normally eat supper, and drink water the rest of the time. I would say just let your conscience guide you. One thing to guard against is to not let it become a legalistic thing. Just let the spirit guide you. I will say that I would shy away from energy drinks that are loaded with processed sugars and caffeine. I'd stick to the natural stuff. But that's just me.

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