Fasting:  Changing Our Focus from

Material to Eternal Realities


Fasting springs out of the experience of grief, where we have little care for food because of grief over our loss.  Fasting for spiritual purposes is caring less for food than God and our desire to hear from Him.  It places us in an appriate posture to receive God's blessing.


Definition of Fasting

Foster:  “Abstaining from food for spiritual purposes”

Tan:  “Voluntary and intentional denial of a normal and even necessary function, such as eating food…the primary Christian motivation [being] to open oneself to God.”


Fasting As an Aid to Spiritual Endeavors

  1. In times of national and personal crisis to appeal to God for deliverance (Judges 20:23; Psalm 35:13,14; Nehemiah 1:4; Esther 4:16; a particular form of crisis is having sin that needs to be confessed, 1 Samuel 7:6; Nehemiah 9:1ff; Joel 2:12,13; Jonah 3:5)
  2. When you want prayer to be answered (2 Samuel 12:16ff; 1 Kings 21:27; 2 Chronicles 20:3; Ezra 8:21ff; Psalm 109:24; Isaiah 58:1-9; Jeremiah 14:12; 36:6; Zechariah 7:3ff; Matthew 6:16-18; Acts 13:2ff; 14:23)
  3. As an aid to worship (Luke 2:37)
  4. As an aid to self-denial and self-discipline (1 Corinthians 9:26,27; Psalm 35:13)
  5. To strengthen us for times of temptation (Matthew 4:1)
  6. “Who knows?” (Joel 2:12,13; Jonah 3:5; 2 Samuel 12:22)


The Way Fasting Works

Fastoing can serve as a tool ro reveal to us that which controls us.  Those things that are hardest to give up are our idols.  Fasting also reminds us that our primary source of life is God, himself.  Food is not enough.  "We do not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God." (Deuteronomy 8:3).  The primary point is not to abstain from food...that is simply the method.  The point is to feast on God's word.


“Our human cravings and desires are like rivers that tend to overflow their banks; fasting helps keep them in their proper channels.” (Foster)

“Through fasting, we give up our appetites for food and other things we hold too close or take for granted.” (Tan)

“We give the Holy Spirit permission to change us so that we become appropriately disengaged from the world.” (Tan)

“It is a sign of a heart hungry for God.” (Tan)


The Way Fasting Doesn’t Work

Fasting is not a panacea, or a cure-all solution, for our physical and spiritual woes. The hope is that, as we place ourselves in a posture of reception, God will "show up" and give us what we need.  Only by seeking him first can we hope to hear a response from God.

“At times there is such stress upon the blessings and benefits of fasting that we would be tempted to believe that with a little fast we could have the world, including God, eating out of our hands.” (Foster)

“Physical benefits, success in prayer, the enduing with power, spiritual insights – these must never replace God as the center of our fasting.” (Foster)

“God-centered fasting always has as its motive to create an opening for God’s revelation and mercy.  It is not to coerce God or change his mind.” (Tan)




  <!--[endif]-->Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth, Richard Foster

  <!--[endif]-->Disciplines of the Holy Spirit: How to Connect to the Spirit’s Power and Presence, Siang-Yang Tan & Douglas H. Gregg


A Fasting Practicum

Doing a 24-hour partial fast

  1. Skip two meals (say supper and breakfast, or lunch and supper)
  2. Drink fruit juices and water during your fast
  3. Do this once a week for 3 weeks
  4. Use the time you would normally eat to pray and read Scripture, sing and worship
  5. Journal your experience each week
  6. Break your fast with a light meal of fresh fruits and vegetables


Doing a 24-hour normal fast

  1. Skip two meals
  2. Drink only water
  3. Do this for 3 weeks
  4. Use meditation and prayer
  5. Journal
  6. Break your fast with a light meal of fresh fruits and vegetables


Doing a 36-hour normal fast (skip three meals once a week for 3 weeks)


Seek the Lord about doing a 3-7 day fast

  1. The first 3 days are usually the most difficult in terms of physical discomfort and hunger pains (the body is ridding itself of toxins; may have coating on tongue and bad breath; may have headaches from withdrawal from caffeine).  Do not eat a heavy meal before fasting, preferably fresh fruits and vegetables.
  2. By the 4th day will have feelings of weakness and occasional dizziness (temporary due to lower blood pressure; rest or take a short nap; many find this to be the most difficult period of the fast)
  3. By day 6-7 will begin to feel stronger and more alert, hunger pains diminishing
  4. Break the fast with small amounts of fruit or vegetable juice the first day, then fruit and milk or yogurt the second day.  Next you can eat fresh salads and cooked vegetables, avoiding salad dressing, grease, and starch.


47 Milton Street    
Dedham, MA 02026    

Copyright © 2010 Fellowship Bible Church. All rights reserved. Supported by Time Doctor