Horizons Church
Saturday, June 24, 2017
 A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO FASTING
 
How to Begin
  • Read Isaiah 58:1-12 and Matthew 6:16-18.
  • Begin with short fasts. Eat two meals per day and then reduce to one meal, then to an all day fast with nothing but water.
  • During your fast, eat no food. Do not drink alcoholic beverages or smoke. Make time to pray and spend time in the other spiritual disciplines.
  • There is no limit to the amount of water you can drink, within reason. You should drink at least 2 quarts of water each day you fast. Water keeps your body from being dehydrated.
  • IF YOU ARE PRESENTLY UNDER THE CARE OF A PHYSICIAN, OR ON MEDICATION SEEK MEDICAL ADVICE BEFORE YOU BEGIN YOUR FAST.
How to Break a Fast
 
If you have fasted a short period of time (1-2 days) you will need to use care upon the end of your fast. Do not binge after the fast is over, but rather eat fruits and/or vegetables the next day. You may then return to a normal diet.
 
If you have fasted very long (over 2 days), your body will be cleansed of many impurities and you will have to adjust to food again (this is proportional to the length of your fast). The first day after the end of your fast, it is advisable to eat only whole fresh fruit cut into small portions. You may also have a small helping of vegetables. The second day you may add light soups. Remember: keep drinking water as you break your fast. Continue to add other foods to return to a normal diet, but remember to do this in moderation.

The Fruitfulness of Fasting
 
Joel 2:12 -13 “Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.
 
Fasting and prayer with genuine repentance and a pure heart will bring:
  • Guidance
  • Wisdom
  • Discernment
  • Answered Prayer
  • Spiritual Renewal
STEP 1: Set Your Objective
Why are you fasting? Is it for spiritual renewal, for guidance, for healing, for the resolution of problems, for special grace to handle a difficult situation? Ask the Holy Spirit to clarify His leading and objectives for your prayer fast. This will enable you to pray more specifically and strategically. Through fasting and prayer we humble ourselves before God so the Holy Spirit will stir our souls.
 
STEP 2: Make Your Commitment
Pray about the kind of fast you should undertake. Jesus implied that all of His followers should fast (Matthew 6:16-18; 9:14, 15) For Him it was a matter of when believers would fast, not if they would do it. Before you fast, decide the following up front:  
  • How long you will fast - one meal, one day, a week, several weeks, forty days (Beginners should start slowly, building up to longer fasts.) 
  • The type of fast God wants you to undertake (such as water only, or water and juices; what kinds of juices you will drink and how often) 
  • What physical or social activities you will restrict 
  • How much time each day you will devote to prayer and God's Word
Making these commitments ahead of time will help you sustain your fast when physical temptations and life's pressures tempt you to abandon it.
 
STEP 3: Prepare Yourself Spiritually
The very foundation of fasting and prayer is repentance. Un-confessed sin will hinder your prayers. Here are several things you can do to prepare your heart:
  • Ask God to help you make a comprehensive list of your sins.
  • Confess every sin that the Holy Spirit calls to your remembrance and accept God's forgiveness (1 John 1:9).
  • Seek forgiveness from all whom you have offended, and forgive all who have hurt you (Mark 11:25; Luke 11:4; 17:3, 4).
  • Make restitution as the Holy Spirit leads you.
  • Ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit according to His command in Ephesians 5:18 and His promise in 1 John 5:14, 15.
  • Surrender your life fully to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Master; refuse to obey your worldly nature (Romans 12:1, 2).
  • Meditate on the attributes of God, His love, sovereignty, power, wisdom, faithfulness, grace, compassion, and others (Psalm 48:9,10; 103:1-8, 11-13).
  • Begin your time of fasting and prayer with an expectant heart (Hebrews 11:6).
  • Do not underestimate spiritual opposition. Satan sometimes intensifies the natural battle between body and spirit (Galatians 5:16, 17).
STEP 4: Prepare Yourself Physically
Fasting requires reasonable precautions. Consult your physician first, especially if you take prescription medication or have a chronic ailment. Some persons should never fast without professional supervision.  Physical preparation makes the drastic change in your eating routine a little easier so that you can turn your full attention to the Lord in prayer.
  • Do not rush into your fast.
  • Prepare your body. Eat smaller meals before starting a fast. Avoid high-fat and sugary foods.
  • Eat raw fruit and vegetables for two days before starting a fast.
STEP 5: Put Yourself on a Schedule
For maximum spiritual benefit, set aside ample time to be alone with the Lord. Listen for His leading. The more time you spend with Him, the more meaningful your fast will be.
 
STEP 6: End Your Fast Gradually
Begin eating gradually. Do not eat solid foods immediately after your fast. Suddenly reintroducing solid food to your stomach and digestive tract will likely have negative, even dangerous, consequences. Try several smaller meals or snacks each day. If you end your fast gradually, the beneficial physical and spiritual effects will result in continued good health.
 
STEP 7: Expect Results
If you sincerely humble yourself before the Lord, repent, pray, and seek God's face; if you consistently meditate on His Word, you will experience a heightened awareness of His presence (John 14:21). The Lord will give you fresh, new spiritual insights. Your confidence and faith in God will be strengthened. You will feel mentally, spiritually, and physically refreshed. You will see answers to your prayers.
 
A single fast, however, is not a spiritual cure-all. Just as we need fresh infillings of the Holy Spirit daily, we also need new times of fasting before God. A 24-hour fast each week has been greatly rewarding for many Christians.
 
It takes time to build your spiritual fasting muscles. If you fail to make it through your first fast, do not be discouraged. You may have tried to fast too long the first time out, or you may need to strengthen your understanding and resolve. As soon as possible, undertake another fast until you do succeed. God will honor you for your faithfulness.