Fasting; How to and How not to
Happy New Year Family!
Hope 2019 was good to you! But now we move onto bigger and better things in Jesus Name.
So for my first blog post of the year (and decade), I wanted to talk about something that is customary for many of us to do; Fasting. I’ll be speaking about what Fasting is, why we do it and I’ll also share what not to do, from my own personal experience.
So, let’s go!
So what is fasting?
Fasting is temporarily withholding something you need, like food, from yourself, so that you can concentrate on your greater need for Christ.
Is it an obligation to fast? Technically no, because there is nowhere in the New Testament Bible that legalises it or forces us to, but when fasting is spoken about in the Bible, its is prefixed with ‘When…’ not ‘If…’, which shows us that although it is not technically *law* to fast, there is an expectation that Christians participate in fasting (Matthew 6:16-18).
Fasting is God-focused. It refocused our minds to the fact that it is only God who sustains our lives and reminds us to ask and look towards God to sustain us in the time we are denying ourselves. Fasting changes the way we see things, situations and circumstances - from physical to spiritual.
Now, let me tell you about my experience with fasting.
2018, for me, was a year of zealous fasting. Because I was in so many different ministries, each calling their fast for different things, It felt like I was fasting every other week. When one ministry had finished their fasting, another ministry called theirs. It was literally never ending, and I participated in almost all of them. They were great at first, but by the end, it was more ‘doing for doing sake’ and ‘doing because instructed to’, than because I felt the pulling of the Spirit to do so. (Don’t get me wrong, there are times when corporate fasting is called and should be adhered to, and we don’t live our lives solely on ‘feelings’, but there comes a time where your heart is not in the right place, and the fast therefore becomes repugnant to God - Isaiah 58:3-7).
I tried a whole host of different fasting types; Daniel, Dry, Intermittent, Liquid etc. Which were good, fun even, but I felt it wasn’t enough. I wanted to push myself. I felt fasting had become ‘too easy’ for me. Mundane, even.
At the end of 2018, October to be precise, I went into a deep solo fast - 21 days, no break, water only fast. Yes, you read correctly, I ate nothing for 21 days and drank water only. I also had no contact with the outside world (apart from colleagues and my parents to let them know that I was still alive lol). It was a time of true consecration. Not just fasting for fasting sake, but a true desire to commune with God. And that’s exactly what happened. Honestly, it was amazing. I felt drawn into the secret place, I felt really connected to and in tune with God and everything went well.
As great as this was, in my fleshly state, I wanted to top that fast, so in March 2019, I decided to do at 28 day fast, same rules. Even though I didn’t tell many people, I became self righteous in myself and enjoyed the approval I received from men because of the fast. ‘Wow, you did so well. 28 days NO FOOD?! Ola, you’re a serious Christian you know.’ ‘ I would love to be like you’ ‘ your walk is amazing’ etc etc etc. As if I sustained myself through that time. As if I was the one who carried myself through the days. But my heart was not in the same place it was in October the prior year. My heart was prideful, self righteous, selfishly motivated and ugly. And although I completed it, I didn’t get the same outcome. I didn’t get much revelation, I didn’t feel any closer to Him, I didn’t feel anything but more pride - that now, I had completed 28 days.
And everything went down hill from there.
I came out of the fast, but my body wasn’t the same, if I didn’t eat every 3 hours, I would have a searing pain in my stomach and back. I was so scared of the pain, I could no longer fast. For almost the entirety of 2019, I literally couldn’t fast. As much as I tried, I couldn’t make it to the hours that used to be ‘light work’ to me. Almost like there was a blockage. I was too prideful to tell people that fasting had become so difficult or the pain I was really feeling, so I just remained silent.
I see now that God allowed me to go through this as a way to completely humble me. In about September, after 6 months of trying and failing to fast, I asked myself, what the problem was, and immediately the Holy Spirit dropped the word ‘Pride’ on me (Luke 18:1-12)— I started reflecting on what I had done in March, how I really felt like fasting was in my own strength, how puffed up I was, and now how greatly I had fallen. That day I fell on my face, repented and asked God for mercy and grace. I tried to fast again after this, and this time, I truly felt the grace of God in the fast. I don’t think I can ever get prideful with fasting again! I never want to.
What do I want you to take from this blogpost?
During this fasting period:
Check Your Heart: Why are you fasting? What is your heart posture behind it?
Be Humble: You do not sustain yourself. You need the grace of God to help you through this fasting period. Ask Him for help always.
Focus on Him: long for Him, search for Him, cry out for more of Him. Listen out for His voice. Fasting is a way for reminding ourselves how much we need and love and trust in Him. So need Him and trust Him.
Start small: Don’t try and do a 10 days dry fast if you’ve never fasted before. Take one day at a time, maybe start off 9am-12pm, stretch it to 3pm a few days after and then go to 6pm after that.
Try different types of fasting: Fasting doesn’t just have to be in one format (like 6am-6pm dry fast), there are so many different types, as i’ve mentioned before. Try and see which ones work for you.
Fill your non-eating time with something Godly: when I fasting, at lunchtime, I go to a quiet place and do some bible study, or listen to a sermon, or listen to worship music. Anything to keep your mind focused on Christ.
Pray often: as soon as you wake up, pray. When its hard, pray. Before you break fast, pray. Before you sleep, pray. Pray without ceasing.
Hope this helps. Both what not to do, and what to do.
Having a graceful fasting period.
Love, Peace and JOY!
“Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” - Matthew 6:16-18