Home Youth Leaders Articles for Youth Leaders How Do You Fast for God: A Guide to the Spiritual Discipline...

How Do You Fast for God: A Guide to the Spiritual Discipline of Fasting

how do you fast for God

How do you fast for God, you might wonder. Here’s a helpful beginner’s guide to the spiritual discipline of fasting. The information below is perfect for teens, youth groups, young adults, and any Christians interested in learning how to fast.

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 do you 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’ve engaged in fasting as a spiritual practice. Over the years, I’ve fasted for as short as one meal and as long as one week.

I first learned about fasting in 1976 in Tanzania from Edmund John. This faith 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. That was a profound message. You empty yourself of food before 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, how Jesus “emptied himself” (NRSV, ESV) in his Incarnation. So it is with fasting: I empty myself of something in order to receive something else. When I fast I am receptive to a closer relationship with God and 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 Do You Fast for God: 7 Tips

1. Identify a Purpose

The first step for any fast is discerning your reason or 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.