Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Think Fast

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.

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 should fast, not if they should do it. Before you fast, decide the following up front:
- How long you will fast – one meal, one day, a week
- (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, etc.)
- What physical and social activities you will restrict
- How much time each day you will devote to prayer and God’s Word

STEP 3: Prepare Yourself Spiritually
- Confess every sin that the Holy Spirit calls to your remembrance and accept God’s forgiveness (I 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 I 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 is a cleansing and healthful benefit as well as an expected part of spiritual discipline. Make the few meals before your fast light ones: fruit, vegetables, real foods rather than processed. Drink plenty of water so that your body is slowly preparing for the release of toxins during fasting. You will also want to break fast with the same lighter foods rather than a heavy meal. Usually people find that they no longer crave processed and poor food choices after they have cleansed their spirit and body and don’t want to break fast with heavy foods.

Other notes:
Fasting is a natural action. It is not something to dread or fear.

There may be medical reasons why you should not fast so be wise and talk to your doctor if you have medicines you’re taking or specific concerns. Most doctors understand the need for spiritual fasting and are willing to help you make good decisions so that your fast will be successful. (For example, some people with medicines that must be taken with food choose to add to their fast a little rice or egg to make this possible.) Grape juice feeds the blood and can be especially helpful.

If you are suffering from dizziness or nausea or continual headaches during a fast, this is reason to add some light foods or perhaps even stop your fast. These are reactions to detoxifying your body. Again, be wise in evaluating the extent of your discomfort. This is not a legalism. Starting with a short fast will help you learn to know your body and what to expect.

Pregnant women should never fast under any circumstances. Ask your accountability partner or husband to fast in your behalf while you pray if fasting seems necessary during pregnancy. Or try fasting from entertainment, news or something besides food.

It is helpful during your first attempts at fasting to do it with a friend. Whether you meet to pray together or not, it’s encouraging to have someone share your growth and experience. Your accountability partner, spiritual mother or husband is a good choice for this.

When you’re fasting, it’s natural to have questions and want to discuss fasting. Get all the encouragement and answers you need. Get extra babysitting if you need to so that you can focus on your fast and prayer. The topic of fasting is not a secret any more than prayer, giving or any other discipline is, so feel free to ask for help as you learn.

Set yourself up for success, not failure. This is not a legalism, it’s a spiritual discipline. It’s not a sin to fast and find you didn’t make it as long as you expected that you could. Prayer goals, study goals, solitude goals, in fact, all spiritual disciplines require practice. Fasting is no different.
If you fast more than one day be prepared for the second day to be the hardest. It’s not about battling food, then, but rather about battling the evil one. That second day he will be right in your face with full force and warfare. Stand firm. Be alert. Get your first line of defense people praying for you if you start receiving heavy artillery. Guard your heart and mind. Take every thought captive.

There will quite often be such a delight on the third day that you will never go back to a life without fasting. Seeing the truth of your victory in battle is faith building. The third day can be eye-opening indeed!

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