Have you ever wondered about fasting food for God? If so, we’re going to answer a lot of fasting food questions today. Questions like: What does the Bible says about fasting? What can you eat when fasting? And more…
Questions about food fasts can be hard to figure out. It’d be nice if the Bible gave us answers as easily as a Google search does but no, that’s not God’s way. When you look in the Bible you’ll find a lot is said about fasting – just not the answers we typically want. And guess what…
Fasting, of all types, isn’t even commanded in Scripture.
If that’s the case, why do Christians fast if God didn’t command it? Well, fasting may not be commanded in Scripture but the words used reveal that fasting is highly encouraged (more on that later).
Today we’re going to cover the what, where, when, why, and how-to of fasting.
Prayerfully, this should help answer questions you may have about drawing closer to God by fasting food.
Why Should Christians Fast?
One answer to why Christians should fast is because of what Jesus says and does. First, what Jesus did.
Immediately after Jesus was baptized, He was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness for a 40 day fast. During this time Jesus went without all forms of food. While doing a fast like this is possible, most of us don’t need to undergo such a rigorous fast.
The reason for Jesus’ fast was to withdraw from things of the world and enter into a season of deep communion with God. Those two reasons for fasting still hold true for why we, as Christians, should fast but there are also other reasons we should fast.
In the Old and New Testament, we see people fasting in repentance, in response to deep loss, and to proactively seek guidance.
Since there are so many reasons why we could do a food fast, the first step is determining your “why”.
- Are you wanting to step away from things of the world, things that might be separating you from God?
- Is repenting of personal sins or in a more global, people of God way the reason you’re wanting to fast?
- Has something grieved you or happened that you know grieves God?
It’s even okay to fast for more than one reason at a time. Let’s now look at when Christians should do food fasts.
- Why are you wanting to fast?
When Should Christians Fast?
First, why and when you should fast are almost the same thing. This is because when you fast could be anytime the above “why’s” happen.
In Matthew 9:15 Jesus tells us when we should fast. He says:
The bridegroom Jesus is talking about, is Him. And since Jesus is no longer with us and we’re awaiting our Bridegroom’s return – our “when”, is now.
But…Nowhere in Scripture does it say we have to fast every single time the above “why’s” happen.
So when should you fast?
Anytime the Holy Spirit prompts you to fast.
Now that we’ve covered why and when, let’s explore what we should fast.
- Is the Holy Spirit prompting you to fast?
- If so, when?
What Should Christians Fast?
The thing about food fasts is there are a million ways to do one. But, there are two main things you need to determine:
What you’ll fast and how long you’ll fast.
What you fast can involve fasting one food, fasting all food, or fasting anything in between.
The “how long you fast” question is just as varied as what you fast.
You’ll find people fasting anywhere from one meal a day to fasting all meals for 40 days. But the most common form of fasting entails fasting all food for one or more days (if medically safe).
No matter your “what” or “how”, all forms of fasting should remind you to seek God when hunger pangs arise.
Truthfully there’s no hard and fast rules about what foods Christians should fast. This, as with most everything about fasting, is between you and God.
Once you’ve prayed about these things you’re ready to progress to the “how-to” and begin your fast.
- What food(s)is the Holy Spirit prompting you to fast?
- How long will you fast?
How Should We Fast?
There’s a lot to consider when deciding to do a food fast. Please, bring these things to the Lord in prayer and make your fasting decisions based on what you feel the Holy Spirit prompting you to do.
Once you’ve determined why you’re going to fast, what you’ll fast, and how long you’ll fast you’re ready for these how-to fast steps. There are two things to keep in mind with these steps.
First, these steps apply to food fasts where your normal food intake will be significantly altered.
Second, these steps only speak to the “food” aspect of fasting, not the spiritual.
Before Your Fast
1. Are you healthy?
If you’re in overall good health, doing a food fast shouldn’t be a big deal. But if you have any chronic diseases or health conditions, talk with your doctor first. Also, if you’re taking prescription medications you’ll want to ensure it’s okay to take them while fasting. Click here for a list of people who shouldn’t fast.
2. Smaller meals.
If you’ll be fasting for more than one day, begin reducing the amount of food you eat 3-5 days before your fast begins. These smaller meals will prepare your mind and body for the upcoming reduction in calories.
3. Go vegan.
If your fast will last for several days transition to a plant-based diet the week prior to your fast. You can learn more about this diet here.
This will help curb cravings that may arise during your fast, while also providing your body the nutrients it needs.
4. Caffeine and sugar.
If these are a regular part of your diet, begin weaning yourself off of these 7 days before your fast starts. This will help prevent caffeine headaches and sugar cravings from happening when your fast starts.
During Your Fast
1. Drink water.
No matter what kind of fast you’re doing, you need to drink a lot of water. This will help fill your stomach, flush released toxins from your body, and keep you alive.
Water is the one thing your body can’t live without.
2. Liquid fasts.
If you’re doing a food fast but allowing yourself liquids, you want to drink clear broths and juices. Fruit juices that are okay on these fasts are watermelon (just blend the whole thing up) and apple.
A blend of celery, carrot, and romaine lettuce makes a great vegetable juice for fasting. If you don’t have a juicer, find a comparable green juice at the store.
3. Avoid caffeine.
When doing a complete food fast you want to avoid all caffeinated products. This is because their effect on your nervous system is much stronger when you’re not eating.
4. Minimize activity.
How much your physical activity will need tweaking depends on how long and what you’ll be fasting. If you’re doing a juice fast then walking a couple of miles per day should be fine. But doing an extended water-only fast will require medical supervision if you’re wanting to exercise.
Shorter fasts that don’t involve fasting from all food may or may not impact your ability to exercise.
After Your Fast
This is the most important part of doing a fast so please – pay attention. When you fast your stomach shrinks and your intestines become idle. If your fast resulted in you eating less food than normal, this will happen. So, when your fast is over it’s important to slowly reacquaint your body with food.
These steps are for fasts lasting longer than 3 days.
If you did a water-only fast, break your fast with: clear broth, apple juice, or green juice. Sip on these throughout the day to get your stomach ready for food.
Have two vegetable only salads (dress with freshly squeezed lemon, lime, or orange juice), a bowl of steamed greens, and 1-2 slices of dry toast. Eat this over the course of the day.
If you did a juice fast, then break your fast with steps 2-6.
Eat the same thing as on day two but include a piece of fruit.
Continue eating fresh or steamed vegetables, dry toast, and fruit. This allows your stomach and intestines to adjust to food again and also allows your system to pull all of the nutrients it needs from these foods.
Slowly add fats, proteins, and grains back into your diet. Slowly and one at a time, add small amounts of these foods back into your meals. The longer your fast, the longer this will take.
Just like with food, you want to slowly add exercise back into your routine. Pay attention to your energy levels and don’t push yourself.
The how-to for the spiritual side of fasting is something for another post. If you’d like to study more about what God says about fasting read Isaiah 58 and Matthew 6:16-18.
These passages speak to the spiritual side of fasting food.
When we fast, we’re emptying ourselves and asking God to fill us up and satisfy our hunger. Our hunger becomes a purposeful and intentional reminder to seek God, not the food our body’s hungry for.
But, there’s more to fasting than being hungry and emptying ourselves. Fasting is also about recognizing we’re neither of those things.
If you’re still wondering about doing a food fast, consider what Jesus said in Matthew 6:16-17. In these verses, Jesus said “when you fast,” twice. So despite there being no command to fast, Jesus makes it clear – fasting’s expected.
Until next time remember what Isaiah 58: 6-11 says:
“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.
And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”
For more on fasting check out the below links
People Who Shouldn't Fast
The following is a list of people who shouldn’t fast unless they’ve been cleared by their doctor or are receiving medical supervision. If you’re unable to do a food fast, that’s okay. Instead, ask the Lord what you could fast in place of food. Check out this post here on fasting social media for God.
- People who have an eating disorder or have struggled with one in the past.
- Diabetics taking medicine to control their blood sugar or who struggle with low blood sugar.
- Individuals who are underweight or undernourished.
- Those with anemia or who struggle with weakness.
- People with heart disease.
- People who have blood disorders or diseases.
- Individuals with tumors or bleeding ulcers.
- Those with chronic diseases that affect the kidneys, liver, heart, or lungs.
- Women who are pregnant or nursing.
If you have any concerns about fasting, it’s always best to ask your doctor first. Please don’t undergo a rigorous food fast unless you’re certain you’re healthy enough to fast.