“There was also a prophetess, Anna…She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.” (Luke 2:36, 37)
Anna’s journey to know Jesus Christ included “fasting.” Today, let’s take a look at the discipline of fasting and see how you can do it in your life.
What is Fasting?
Fasting is when you stop doing something you normally do for a period of time to focus on Christ. That “something” can sometimes be what you’ve recently been substituting for God. For example, when you’re weary from a hard day, you turn to that “something” instead of God. Maybe your “something” is:
- Recreational Shopping
- Etc, etc, etc…
But let’s get this strait – when you fast, or stop doing that “something,” the purpose is not to simply suffer. It’s so you can be separated or set apart for only Jesus and concentrate on godliness. Fasting also doesn’t earn you anything. Christ already died so you can have favor with God.
What is the benefit of fasting from food?
There are many benefits from fasting, some obvious and some not so obvious. First, if you’re fasting from food, the blood that your body uses normally to digest food becomes available for greater mental concentration. Additionally, when your body is without food, that allows it to eliminate a lot of the its toxins. Ever struggle focusing when you’re praying? Refraining from eating can actually help you focus spiritually!
But what are the spiritual benefits?
The AIM of fasting is not the physical benefits (even if it helps you lose a few pounds). Instead, it helps you to enjoy God’s presence in your life. It also helps the intensity of your prayer (Luke 2:37) and your repentance (Joel 2:12). Fasting from anything, whether it be food or not, also:
- releases the Holy Spirit to do his revival work within us.
- reduces the power of “self.”
- helps purify us spiritually.
- brings yieldedness, even holy brokenness, resulting in inner calm and self-control.
- renews spiritual vision.
- helps us see what normally controls us (for example, if you’re addicted to caffeine, you realize it controls you when you go through withdrawal!)
Food fasting tips:
- A “normal fast” is defined as not eating food, but drinking water. An “absolute fast” is known as not eating OR drinking. We suggest that if you’ve never fasted before, you try a “normal fast” first. You can also do a “juice fast” which is abstaining from all food but drinking nutritious juice to keep your body up.
- Don’t fast to impress others. Better yet, keep it just between you and God. However, if you’re a middle school or high school student, it might be good to let at least your parents know you’re doing this (tell them why you want to do it, too).
- Start by fasting from one or two meals. That would be like not eating dinner one night (and no snacking either!). Another good challenge would to not eat for 24 hours. The best way to do this is to eat supper one night and not eat again until the next night’s supper.
- Finally, have a purpose why you fast (Zechariah 7:5; 1 Corinthians 13:3). Are you spiritually dry in your walk with God? Are you going through a tough time and need to focus on the power of God in your life? Are you healing from a past sin or mistake? Fasting might be a good idea.
Whether you fast or not during your journey, we hope you pursue Jesus Christ in your priorities and choices in the coming weeks ahead.