Fasting and Feasting
Purpose of Fasting:
Purification of the body, mind, will and emotions. Re-claiming control over our passions and desires of the flesh. The hope of fasting is to put something aside (fast) for a period of time, and to pick something up (feast) that will bring us closer to God. It may be as simple as skipping lunch once a week to do a prayer walk or skip time on the TV to do a daily office reading and prayer of examine.
Scriptural Support for Fasting:
- Matthew 6:16- “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get.”
- Mark 9: 14-29- “When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. 15 As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him. 16“What are you arguing with them about?” he asked. 17A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.” 19“You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” 20So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. 21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. 22“It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” 23“ ‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” 25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 26The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up. 28 After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” 29 He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer & fasting”
More than any other Spiritual Practices, fasting reveals the things that control us and others. Is there something that has control over you instead of you having control over it? It could be a substance, an identity, a relationship, an addiction, a job, any desire that is not self-controlled is controlling us. Spirit empowered self-control gives us authority to help ourselves and to help others find freedom through Christ.
The Practice of Fasting:
In many ways the stomach is like a spoiled child, and a spoiled child does not need indulgence, but needs discipline.
Different Kinds of Fasting:
Complete Fast: This fast calls for drinking only liquids, typically water with light juices as an option. Please consult your physician before entering into a time of any type of dietary fasting.
Selective Fast: This type of fast involves removing certain elements from a diet. One example of a selective fast is the Daniel Fast, during which you remove meat, sweets, or bread from your diet and consume water and juice for fluids and fruits and vegetables for food. Please consult your physician before entering into a time of any type of dietary fasting.
Partial Fast: This fast is sometimes called the Jewish Fast and involves abstaining from eating any types of food in the morning and afternoon. This can either correlate to specific times of the day, such as 6:00 am to 3:00 pm, or from sunup to sundown. Please consult your physician before entering into a time of any type of dietary fasting.
Media Fast: This fast is common for those who do not have much experience fasting foods, who have health issues that prevent the fasting of food, or who wish to refocus certain areas of their life that are out of balance. For instance, someone might select to abstain from using social media or watching television for the duration of the fast—and then choosing how to carefully bring that element back into their life in an orderly fashion.
Different Lengths of Fasting:
Once a week: Choose a time during the week that works well for you to do a 24hr fast. For example, have an early dinner on Tuesday, skip breakfast and lunch and end the fast on Wednesday with another early dinner. Please consult your physician before entering into a time of any type of dietary fasting.
1-5 day fast: Take time to set a specific amount of time for your fast and offer it to God as a loving act of worship. The amount of time should be one you are excited about offering to God. Please consult your physician before entering into a time of any type of dietary fasting.
21 day fast: This is from Daniel 10:2-3 that says- 2 In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. 3 I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled. Please consult your physician before entering into a time of any type of dietary fasting.
40 day fast: The most common fast in the Bible. Moses, David, Elijah, Ahab, Darius, Daniel, Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah, Jesus, John the Baptist, The Early Church, Apostle Paul all participated in lengthy spiritual fasting. Please consult your physician before entering into a time of any type of dietary fasting.
Feasting amidst your Fasting:
As you consider the practice of fasting, also consider what you want to feast on that will bring your attention and devotion to God. We encourage you to consider the practice of a more regular daily office practice of scripture and prayer throughout your day. Consider the Daily Office, Recommended Resources listed below.
Additional Resources for learning more about the practice of Fasting :
Fasting- Celebration of Discipline
Fasting- Scot Mcknight
A Hunger for God- John Piper
You Are What You Love- James Smith
Additional Resources for Feasting:
Recommended Daily Office Apps:
Lectio 365 App
Lectio For Families App
Recommended Daily Office Books:
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Day by Day
Emotionally Healthy Relationships Day by Day
Recommended Bible Reading Apps:
The Bible App- You Version
Bible 365 App
The Bible Project App