Is Fasting Still Relevant Today?
January 10, 2023 | Jeff Coleman
5-7 minute read time
Let’s get one thing straight. I HATE fasting! It’s not that I don’t like it, I think I may actually hate it, which is probably why I need to fast even more often than I do. Let me explain.
My aversion to fasting is an indicator I have too great a reliance on food. I really enjoying eating, but God is opening my eyes to see I need to eat to live rather than living to eat. Besides, life isn’t about eating and drinking, but about Jesus (Romans 14:17). And, yet there is a nagging question that needs to be answered.
Is fasting even relevant for real life in the 21st century?
Yes, it is! In his book, Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster writes: “The constant propaganda fed us today convinces us that if we do not have three large meals each day, with several snacks in between, we are on the verge of starvation. This coupled with the popular belief that it is a positive virtue to satisfy every human appetite, has made fasting seem obsolete.”
Consider the following: Our nation is in need of spiritual awakening. Our world is in desperate need of salvation from the bondage of unrighteousness. God’s church is in need of protection and power as we strive to do great things for the Kingdom of God in our community and world, and our families are in need of direction, support, and protection to stand firm and equip the next generation to faithfully follow Jesus. So... Yes! Fasting is entirely appropriate for today and for now!
I’m not sure I know the best way to fast. How do I start?
A biblical fast involves abstinence from food or at least certain types of food. Typically, different fasting combinations work better for different people. The goal of having a successful fast is all about finding your “Fast Zone,” and that is different for everybody and can change depending on the season you are in.
Your Fast Zone is the place where you feel light and spiritually in tune. Your mind is easily focused on God and spiritual things. You have an increased spiritual energy—you can feel the fast working. Just like runners know what their target heart rate is to see the benefits of their physical training, the Fast Zone is similar but in a spiritual sense.
Finding your Fast Zone helps you choose both the type and length of fast. Let’s say you choose to go on a Daniel fast (only fruits and vegetables). Should you eat beans? If you can eat beans and stay in your Fast Zone, go ahead. But for some people eating beans takes them out of the zone. Should you eat peanut butter? Probably not. Peanut butter is more of an indulgence, and not many people can stay in a Fast Zone while enjoying indulgences.
Should you completely cut out caffeine? It depends. The great thing is, when you fast, your body automatically craves less caffeine. If you can stay in your Fast Zone with a little caffeine, great. If you are going on a longer fast and want to cut it out of your diet completely, that’s great too, but ease yourself off and make it your goal to be completely caffeine free about two‐thirds of the way into your fast. If you drink coffee regularly, one of the worst mistakes you can make is to fast for one to three days and cut caffeine out abruptly and completely. Please don’t do that or you will spend this time grumpy and in withdrawal instead of enjoying God’s presence.
Mixing things up a bit during this time is what typically works best for people. For example, do a fruits and vegetables fast for a day. Then do all liquids for a day. Maybe even mix in a few days of only water if you think you are ready for that. Then go back to fruits and vegetables for a few days.
Some people can’t stay in a Fast Zone eating any type of solid food, so they prefer all liquids. With today’s protein drinks and juicing options, it is so easy to get a healthy dose of all your nutritional needs even while taking in only liquids. Certain people can’t do anything other than drink only water. If they eat a salad or drink a glass of juice, they get out of their zone. Or, if they allow themselves to eat cantaloupe, they will end up eating twenty cantaloupes a day!
Get the picture? Prayerfully find your Zone, get in it, and stay in it – whatever it is – for the duration of this season so that you can draw nearer to God.
Lastly, if you’ve never fasted before then consider starting with a very small step. In fact, this might feel like cheating, but do something so easy you’re bound to succeed. By intentionally engineering your success with an easy first step you will be more likely to try again. Consider the following ideas: How about fasting from social media? (No, you don’t need to post about it. Just do it without fanfare and notification). How about fasting from music, news, talk radio, TV, or any other distraction whether it’s during your commute to work, during the day, or in the evening? Do you have a favorite indulgence (i.e. Starbucks in the morning, Chic-Fil-A on the way to work, a glass of wine in the evening, etc.)? Why not fast that treat during this period of time? Remember, the purpose of fasting isn’t to make your life miserable, but to intentionally eliminate that which we like, enjoy, and even need (i.e. food) for a period of time for the sole purpose of drawing close to God.
Anyone can fast, but if you are person with some health concerns then please consult your doctor first before jumping into a fasting habit.
I can’t stand to fast, but I am taking this concrete step of demonstrating my willingness to give God my undivided attention so that I can be with the Lord and hear from Him.
Will you join me?
For most people to be successful with a fast, to stay in their Fast Zone, they have increased prayer time and time with the Father. Therefore I encourage you to join me and sign up for 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting. It’s not too late to participate in “Thy Kingdom Come: 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting” here on the Hill. Text the word “RENEW” to 678-324- 4360. You will receive a daily Scripture verse and a prayer prompt through January 30.