Spiritual Fasting

Wednesday, February 10th, begins the season of Lent for the 2016 Christian Calendar.  Lent is a special time of prayer, penance, and sacrifice in preparation of the celebration of Easter on March 27th.  

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During the time of Lent, many Christians choose to fast, or “give up” something to help them in this time of preparation.  At this time, you will often hear the expression, “No thank you, I am giving up . . . chocolate, desserts, chips . . . for Lent,”  only to be followed by groans of agony at the thought of the given sacrifice.


If you have any desire to “give up something” for Lent, I hope this post can give you some inspiration on how to make “Spiritual Fasting” (which is what “giving something up” really is) a more intimate and meaningful act.


1.  What is Fasting?

True Biblical, Spiritual Fasting is refraining from food for “spiritual" purposes.  Though doing spiritual acts are good during Lent, true fasting always means refraining from some type of food.  

2.  Why Do We Fast?

Spiritual Fasting is always about drawing near to God.  It is a time of  seeking His direction.  It is about un-cluttering our lives so as to become more sensitive to God's presence, His direction, and His will for our lives.  It is a time to "sharpen our spirits" so as to become more effective to do His works.  

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We also Spiritually Fast to model some of the great Hall of Famers in Scripture - Moses, David, Daniel, Paul - just to name a few.  Jesus, Himself, fasted and expected fasting of His followers as He said, 

“When you Give …” and 

“When you Pray …” and 

“When you Fast.”  (Matthew 6).  

Spiritual Fasting is always to be accompanied by prayer and becomes even more powerful when accompanied with giving.


The 3 directives in Matthew 6, did not say, “if” you give, or “if” you pray, or “if’ you fast.  As Christians, we know we are called to give to others and to pray, but we often skip the last statement made by Jesus, which is to fast.


When you fast, God always promises that rewards will accompany your fasting.  We do not fast for the purpose of rewards but if you truly humble and surrender yourself for a period of time in fasting, you will become more sensitive to God and will be more in tune to His mighty blessings.



3.  How To Spiritually Fast

There is no mandatory type of Spiritual Fasting.  God sees the heart and what is surrendered, and for what length of time.  However one chooses to fast, Scripture shows that Spiritual Fasting has always been a discipline that draws one closer to God.


After 3 days of fasting led by Esther, God saved the Jews from being slaughtered by Haman.  After 3 days of fasting, Paul and Peter both had revelations that led them on their missions to preach to the Gentiles and the Jews.  After 40 days fasting, God gave Moses the 10 Commandments and after 40 days of fasting in the desert, Jesus began his earthly ministry.


The most common fast, however, is the “Daniel Fast” which is a 10 day fast from meat, sweet foods, and alcohol.  It is a simple diet that consists mostly of fruit, vegetables and water.


All Spiritual Fasting is to be accompanied by the conviction of your heart and will be done differently by all persons.  This  is not an exercise in legality, but rather in humility.


4.  Special Notes On Fasting

Though we are entering the time of Lent which is a time of prayer and preparation for the season of Easter, and often during this time many choose to fast from certain foods, this information is directed to all times of fasting and I encourage you to pray about a time of fasting for your own life, and have included these notes to help.



I personally fast each Monday as a time of simplifying my life.  I have no breakfast or lunch and only a simple salad or pureed soup for dinner.  It is a time of renewal each week that helps me recenter myself on the things of God.  


I also do a 40 day “Daniel Fast" for the season of Lent and I encourage each of you to attempt a simple fast during this time as well.  Don’t think of it as a legalistic, chore you have to do, thus leading you to be unsuccessful.  Truly commit to a time of Spiritual Fasting, so as to draw closer to God.  


Prayerfully consider what you might choose to surrender and watch and see how God shows up during your time of fasting.  I have provided the card below for you to make the commitment more of a reality.  Print it out, fill it in, and use the back for journaling. (There are two so you can use for more than one person, or more than one time.) 


My prayer is that as you seek God in fasting, that He will draw you into a more intimate relationship with Him, that you will be un-cluttered from the things of this world, and sharpened by His Spirit to do the works that bring you passion and joy and His presence to the world around you.

And if you would like more reading on Spiritual Fasting, one of my favorite books is “fasting” by Jentezen Franklin.


And if you have stuck around for the bloopers, here is a little chuckle for you before you begin your fast!.

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Blessings!

 Margaret

© margaret young