Fasting is an increasingly popular practice for weight loss and maintenance. Many choose and find success with intermittent fasting that involves cycling through periods of fasting and eating. This time of year, many others commit to the Daniel Fast that excludes certain types of foods based upon Daniel’s 10-day and 21-day fasts (Daniel 1:12-15 and 10:2-3).
Like most diets, these food restrictions can benefit weight loss/maintenance – but much is missed if the focus and goal is physical.
Fasting, specifically Biblical fasting is truly transformative.
In no way, shape, form, or fashion do I suggest anyone fast to lose weight. I do, however, strongly encourage fasting to increase spiritual strength.
Fasting is a tremendously powerful spiritual discipline that deepens intimacy with God.
Fasting tunes out the loud call and distracting noise of the flesh and allows us to better hear and heed the voice of the Holy Spirit. By surrendering our bodies, eyes can be opened, attitudes and appetites can be changed, and strongholds can be broken.
If believers truly understood the power of fasting and embraced it is a spiritual discipline, the effect on our individual lives and resulting impact in our churches, communities, and society would be astounding.
What is Biblical Fasting?
Simply defined, Biblical fasting (or Christian fasting) is prayer-full abstinence from food and/or drink for spiritual purposes. Intricately connected with prayer, fasting deepens our connection to God.
In the Old Testament, we see prayer and fasting done as acts of repentance, as mourning, and as calls for God’s presence and His hand in their given situations. In New Testament times, fasting moved beyond legalism to a way to imitate Christ.
Scripture details three forms of fasting:
- Absolute fasts
- Liquid fasts
- Partials fasts
Absolute fasts involve abstaining from all food and liquids for a period. Examples in scripture include Moses’ 40-day fast on Mount Sinai (Exodus 34:28), Queen Esther and the Jews’ three-day fast before she went to address the king (Esther 4:15-16) and the Apostle Paul’s three-day fast after meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:9).
Absolute fasts lasting an extended period are often called supernatural absolute fasts because it is a miracle to live more than three days without water or 21 days without food. Due to their taxing nature, absolute fasts should only be undertaken if your health is good and you have complete clarity and confidence that the Holy Spirit is directing you to this task.
Liquid fasts involve abstaining from food and consuming only liquids for a period. Water and fruit and vegetable juices are the liquids typically consumed on this fast. While challenging, liquid fasts are not as dangerous as absolute fasts, since the body gets needed liquids and some nutrition.
Partial fasts involve abstaining from groups of food or drink for a period. Popular examples in scripture are Daniel’s 10-day and 21-day fasts (Daniel 1:12-15 and 10:2-3). Other variations of the partial fasts are time-based instead of food or beverage based, for example, abstaining from food or drink certain hours of the day. Many believers with medical considerations choose this fast.
In addition to types of fasts, fasting has two extent categories, individual or corporate.
Individual fasts involve just God and the believer and are often conducted in private (Matthew 6:16-18).
Corporate fasts involve God and a group of believers. The group can be a family, church family, or another group of people connected for a spiritual purpose.
A Call to Fast
Led by the Spirit of God, my pastor Dr. Leo Cyrus has compelled believers to share in a corporate time-based partial fast Monday, January 18, 2021 – noon Sunday, February 14, 2021. The focus for the first week is unity.