Are you wondering how to fast for God? Here’s a helpful beginner’s guide to fasting. It’s perfect for teens, youth groups, young adults, and any Christians interested in this spiritual discipline.
To “fast” is to abstain from something—usually food and/or drink—for a period of time. For centuries, people of all religions have fasted for spiritual reasons. Christians have developed particular ways of fasting, and there are certain days and seasons when it is appropriate to fast. In addition, there are particular Christian purposes for fasting. Read on for tips about how to fast for God.
“The main purpose of fasting involves the question: What I am desiring to be filled with?”
Why Fast? Emptying and Dependence
Throughout my life, I have engaged in fasting as a spiritual practice. Over the years, I have fasted for as short as one meal, and as long as one week.
I first learned about fasting in 1976 in Tanzania, from a faith healer named Edmund John. This healer had a three-day process, and day two was always a full day fast. In other words, before you have hands laid on you for healing, you fast for a day. There was a profound message here. You empty yourself of food before you being filled with the Holy Spirit and with healing.
This idea of emptying has become, for me, a central part of how to fast for God. We might recall Philippians 2:7, Jesus “emptied himself” (NRSV, ESV) in his incarnation. So it is with fasting: I empty myself of something, in order to be receptive of something else. When I fast I find myself receptive to a closer relationship with God; open to the Holy Spirit filling me.
Related to this, fasting involves an attitude of trust and dependence. One depends on God to fill what’s being left empty. This is perhaps a succinct definition of faith: dependence on the creator to fill and supply what we need.
How to Fast for God: 7 Tips
1. Identify a Purpose
The first step for any fast is discerning your reason/purpose for fasting. Are you fasting to empty yourself? To strengthen your relationship with God? Are you fasting to be in solidarity with the poor? Or for a holy day such as Ash Wednesday or Good Friday? Clarifying the purpose of your fast is critical. It creates a frame for your experience.