It’s the start of a new year and a great way to start off a new season is with a fast. I see a lot of people and churches fasting and praying in January and want to give a few keys to make your fast effective. A fast should always be a sacrifice. Fasting is less about the number of days or small details and more about your personal sacrifice towards God.
The first necessary key is prayer. A fast without prayer is simply a diet. Whenever you decide to start a fast you need to be praying before, during, and after. Fasting will always increase the effective prayer. Jesus said that when He left the Earth His disciples would fast (Mark 2:20). Jesus said we would fast, so if you have never fasted before I would say it’s a great idea! One reason we fast is to get closer to God. When Jesus was on the Earth people were with God therefore there was no reason for His disciples to fast, they couldn’t get much closer to God.
Have a purpose: You should have a purpose and intention behind your fast. It can be as simple as you wanting to get closer to God, or fasting to buy a home, or start a new job. The key here is if someone asked why you are fasting you can have a clear reason.
Silence complaints: Another idea Jesus addressed regarding fasting was our attitude while fasting. His point was that during our fast we should go about our day as usual. We shouldn’t tell everyone how we haven’t eaten anything. We also can’t complain about how we are so hungry, or hangry. We do not fast to impress other people. And when God sees our fast He will reward us! So yes, there is a reward for your sacrifice.
16“Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.17But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,18so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” Matthew 6:16-18
Mentally and physically prepare: When you are only drinking water and not accustomed to it, or have never done it before you need to be prepared. When I read about Jesus fasting for forty days I wanted to do that! I was all ready to not eat anything for over a month and then did a quick Google search to see how I could prepare. I was shocked to find out that not eating for forty days is extremely difficult and dangerous if you are not prepared. Instead I started with a 24 hour fast. Before you decide to stop eating for a week you will need to prepare your body. I would suggest taking it slow and talking to your doctor if you have any concern with your health. When you are not eating you also become dehydrated quickly and need to drink more water than normal. Fasting is mentally and physically draining which is why prayer is essential. You will only make it through a fast relying on God’s strength along with wisdom.
Dealing with temptation: After Jesus was baptized the Holy Spirit led Him into the wilderness to begin His fast. Immediately after the 40 days the devil came to tempt Jesus. You can and should expect the devil to tempt you after your fast. That is when you are likely at your weakest and most vulnerable state and the devil knows that. When you are aware that the devil will tempt you can prepare for that and overcome the enemy. Do not let the devil take away what you have sacrificed for. Your breakthrough and reward will come, but only after you have the opportunity to bow down to the devil.
*Note that you should do more research on this subject before making any decisions regarding fasting. Talk to others and your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.