Many of you are aware that I finished a 10 day juice fast recently. The beginning of the year is a good time to fast. It is a time to push the reset button on our lives, and fasting is a tool that can help you begin again.
The following are some reasons for fasting.
1. DEDICATION. Fast as an Act of Dedication (Matthew 4:1-2) – After his baptism, Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit where he fasted for 40 days to prepare for entry into his ministry. During this time Jesus was tested by the devil. Perhaps fasting gave Jesus clarity as he intensely focused on His Father. The time of testing provided confirmation that He was the Son of God who had come to save the world. You may fast as an act of dedication to the Lord, and to seek confirmation about his calling in your life.
2. DISCIPLINE. Fast as an Exercise of Self-Discipline (Matthew 4:3-4) – Learn to say no to yourself. All of the temptations Jesus endured were aimed at getting him to act egotistically and expediently. If the Lord had given in it would not have been an exercise of faith, but an effort at overcoming self-doubt with presumption. Our consumer culture is about self-indulgence, not self-discipline. It is about pursuing passion, pleasure and satisfying desire. This is why we’re overweight and in debt. It is important to set limits for our time, money, eating and drinking. Fasting is a good tool to discipline yourself so that you may also say no in areas other than food.
3. DEPENDENCE. Fast as an Affirmation of Dependence upon God- Learn to rely on the power of God. Jesus’ first statement in response to Satan’s temptation demonstrates this. “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Deuteronomy 8:3 as quoted in Matthew 4:4, also John 4:34). When I give up something I truly want, I will need God’s help to persevere. The third affirmation of the AA 12 Steps recognizes our need to do this. “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God…” This is essential if I am to overcome a particularly stubborn habit or addiction. “This kind only comes out by prayer and fasting” (Mark 12:29). We need a deep faith, which relies entirely upon God, and fasting may help promote such faith.
4. DETERMINATION. Fast to Establish Determination- Believing is not a feeling. It is an act of the will. Believing genuinely means I am willing to do something about it. Additionally, faith must endure or it’s worthless. Learn to have a tenacious and unshakeable faith. Jesus’ disciples encountered a boy whom they could not help. When Jesus cast out the spirit that afflicted the child, his disciples asked him why they were powerless. Jesus replied, “This kind can only come out by prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29, Matthew 17:21). Not everything happens instantly. In fact, many issues require determination and tenacity to overcome. Remember, although faith is an act of the will, it is not about willpower. It is about trust. I must be determined to continue to trust God, no matter the circumstances. This is fasting for a breakthrough. Nothing is helping. Nothing is changing. I can give up and give in, or I can resolve to focus all my attention on God and persevere in asking and seeking and knocking. Consider Jesus’ parable of the importunate widow: the woman kept coming to the judge for justice until he finally gave her just relief (Luke 18:1-8). In the end I will find it is not God who is withholding my right, but a lack of faith on my part. Fasting helps me to break through.
5. DESPERATION. Fast as an Act of Desperation (Joel 2:17-21) – Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? I must repent and come to an end of myself if I want to be filled with God’s Holy Spirit. I must realize how truly sinful I am, and how depraved I will become without God’s help. I’ve got to take sin seriously. Cry out to God in repentance. “Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” (Joel 2:12 NIV). I need to hear from God at all costs. Our nation and our lives are filled with rebellion, perversion and lawlessness. How many more tragedies must occur until we realize the need to return to the Lord in heart and mind and body?
6. DETOXIFICATION. Fast as a means of Detoxification (Daniel 1:8-16) – Because of constant exposure to an impure environment your body collects all sorts of toxic and destructive substances. Consider Daniel and his friends who would not eat the meat and rich food offered them by their Babylonian overlords. Instead they ate only vegetables and drank only water. They were healthier as a result. They asked to be tested for 10 days. You can do the same test on yourself: Eat only vegetables and drink only water for 10 days and discover a healthier you. A vegan or even vegetarian diet that allows only organic foods is a healthy way to rid your body of toxins. When you abstain from food altogether, drinking only water, especially for longer periods, the digestive system and liver and kidneys can be cleansed of accumulated poison.
The same applies to your mind. When you remove TV, movies, video games, godless music, social media, you give your mind the opportunity to rest. Replace these things with worship and saturation in Scripture.
7. DIET. Fast regularly to Diet- Limiting the amount of food you eat is a means of controlling calorie intake. Most of us eat too much. We take in more calories than we burn, so we gain unneeded fat. Periodic fasting, (ie. one day per week), if done in moderation and balanced with a healthy, calorie controlled diet, is an effective tool in losing fat and maintaining a lean body.
A. Fast and pray for a day.
- Rise before 6 AM and eat a breakfast of fruit and oatmeal (cooked raw oats is best), use honey to sweeten the oats.
- From 6 AM until 6 PM drink only water. Drink at least 8 oz. every hour.
- After 6 PM eat a healthy dinner with plenty of vegetables. Go easy on the fatty meats.
B. Daniel Fast for 10 days.
- Eat only vegetables and a little fruit for 10 days. Focus on leafy greens and cruciferous (broccoli & cauliflower) vegetables, prefer organic.
- Drink only water for 10 days. No soda, coffee, or tea. Vegetable or fruit juice is acceptable if it is 100% pure.
- NO SUGAR
- Once the 10 day test is done, you may decide to go to 21 or even 40 days. For longer fasts be sure to include beans, brown rice, pea or other vegan protein sources. Pastor D supplemented using Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein powder in water or almond milk.
C. Juice Fast for anywhere from one to ten days.
- Do not do this for more than one day until you have done “A” above and prayed.
- Try it for one day, then break, then three before you go longer.
- Drink 90% vegetable juices made with a juice extractor ($50 – 100 appliance).
- Drink juice every two hours and water in the hours between.
- Again, no coffee or tea, and NO SUGAR or other sweeteners.
- Organic vegetables are preferred.
Whatever you decide to do, remember the following principles.
•Be consistent. Discipline requires consistency to take hold and be effective.
•Giving up what you shouldn’t be doing to begin with is not fasting, it’s obedience.
•If you make a commitment to God, keep it. Better not to vow than to vow and not keep it.
•It is not a good idea to make promises to God, better to rely on his promises for you. So, you aren’t fasting to get God to do something for you. Trust him to help you through.