Friday, January 15, 2010

How and How Long 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.

What was Jesus saying about fasting?

#1 - You should do it. He didn't say if you fast, but when you fast.

#2 - You shouldn't be hypocritical about it. Don't do it just for the temporary reward of having someone think you're spiritual.

#3 - You shouldn't be rigid and legalistic about it.

The Pharisees were all of the above. They fasted at least twice a week, and when they did it, they made sure everyone knew they were doing it. They would disfigure their faces and go around looking all forlorn and pitiful, so as to entice others to ask them about it. When they asked, they would be quick to tell them how they were fasting to be close to God.

Jesus said it shouldn't be this way! Instead, when you fast, do it unto God and not unto man.

So, what exactly is fasting? You might be asking. Fasting is going without food and sometimes drink to get closer to God. It is coupled with prayer, and it helps us clear our minds of the clutter that often hinders us from hearing God's voice.

So, how long should I fast? You should fast for as long as God leads you. That answer might sound trite, but it is true. Now, for health reasons, you shouldn't go on an extended fast for several weeks, without being under the watchcare of a physician. In the Bible people fasted for all of the following time periods: 1 day, 3 days, 1 week, 10 days, 21 days, and 40 days. Again, don't be rigid and say, "I must fast for ________ days (you fill in the blank), and then beat yourself up feeling not as close to God, if you can't make it that long. Instead, take it 1 meal at a time, one day at a time. If you only make it 1 or 2 meals, rejoice in the time you spent with God that day. If you make it 1 day or 1 week, rejoice in that, but don't feel that you have to do it for X amount of time in order to be close to God and see a spiritual breakthrough.

Now, on January 31st, we are being called to a day of fasting and prayer. What I usually will do is start after supper the night before and fast until breakfast on the next day. If you can only go from supper to supper, that is fine. If you are a big breakfast eater, and can only go without breakfast that day, that is fine. Some might want to begin 3 days, or 1 week or 10 days before and fast up through the 31st. Whatever God leads you to do, just spend it getting in His Word and drawing nearer to Him in prayer.

I promise you 2 things, if you will fast at least 1 or 2 meals, or whatever.

#1 - You will be challenged. You might get a headache or have all manner of Murphy break out in your life during that time. Keep your hand to the plow. It will get better.

#2 - You will be blessed. You will see God move in your life. Sometimes, the breakthrough happens during the fast. Sometimes it is after the fast. But God will move. Every time God has made a major move in my life, it has been during or shortly after a period, where He led me on a fast. Just keep praying! Keep fasting! and Keep Trusting for a Breakthrough, and You will receive it! God Bless!


Tammy Real-McKeighan said...

Hi Pastor,
We've been studying about fasting at our church, too!
I'm praying for God's grace!
God has been very good and faithful to me in my life. I write about that in columns for the Fremont Tribune newspaper in Nebraska. For more information on that please visit
You also may read columns on

Thanks and may God bless you!


Shahid said...

You should try fasting a month.

kesaven guptha said...

Mark Hancock said...

Thanks, Pastor.