If you are new to the idea of fasting food, then I’m sure this post and the others in this series will be helpful to you. Today we are going to focus on how to start a fast, the best way to break a fast, what to do during a fast, and the five kinds of fasts you can choose from.
Part 5 in the Prayer and Fasting Series
To get started in this series on Prayer and Fasting, you may want to read
- Part 1 – Does Fasting and Prayer include Humility? Truth Revealed!
- Part 2 – Should Christians Fast and Pray Today?
- Part 3 – 10 Powerful Benefits of Fasting and Prayer and
- Part 4 – 10 Proven Types of Fasting in the Bible
Fasting food isn’t a new thing. This discipline has been going on for thousands of years as we learn about it in both the Old and New Testaments. Moses, Elijah, David, Hannah, Ezra, Jesus and many more spent time in prayer and fasting and received results of their sincerity.
The Basics of Fasting Food
If you are considering fasting food, but you aren’t sure what type of fast to go on, then this post, 10 Proven Types of Fasting in the Bible (includes a handy-dandy printout) will be of great help to you. One benefit of using these proven Bible-based fasts, is they are clear in their purpose.
The other principle you should be aware of is the attitude and motive of your heart before you begin fasting food. 2 Chronicles 7:14 speaks of a few things and the first one is to humble yourself. As well, Isaiah 58:3-7 speaks of God’s expectations during a fast.
How to Start a Fast
There are a few steps for how to start a Fast. A Biblical fast is different than fasting for weight loss. This post is focused on Biblical fasting.
- Prior to the start of your fast, spend time preparing your spirit to meet with God.
- Acknowledge your sins and repent of them. Enter your fasting period with a clean heart before God, 1 John 1:9.
- If you need to seek forgiveness from anyone, do so before your fast begins, Mark 11:25; Luke 11:4; 17:3,4.
- Spend time worshipping God. Here are some powerful Bible verses to help you worship.
- Begin your fasting time with an expectant heart that God will answer your prayers. It may not be today or tomorrow but you will see that He is faithful in answering you.
1 – Determine the Purpose of Your Fast
This may be a corporate fast called by your church’s spiritual leadership. They will have a purpose outline for you.
If the fast is a personal fast, determine if you are seeking God to help you resolve a problem. If so, the St. Paul Fast or the Ezra Fast would be good choices.
Maybe you are praying for household salvation, then the Samuel Fast would be the choice.
Or you may be seeking God for a personal revival. Whatever it is, know what your purpose is before you begin your fast.
2 – Have a Heart of Humility
When you are thinking of how to start a Fast, it is important that your heart is right before God. Your purpose of fasting needs to be sincere according to Isaiah 58:3-8. God is looking at your heart, that is, your motive when fasting before Him.
3 – Decide on the Kind of Fast
There are five kinds of fasts to choose from which are detailed below, however, here is the brief list for you:
- Absolute Fast (no food or water)
- Normal Fast (most common)
- Juice Fast
- Partial Fast (fruits and vegetables)
- Rotational Fast (specific food consumed on a day-by-day rotation)
4 – Decide on the Length of the Fast
One of the questions you may have when you ask how to start a fast, is how long you should fast. You have several options for the length of your fast. You can choose from:
- fasting breakfast, which means if you last ate at dinner the evening before, you will be fasting approximately 18 hours before you will eat again.
- fasting two meals, ie, breakfast and lunch, which will be approximately 24 hours before having dinner
- a one day fast
- a three day fast
- 7 day fast
- 14- or 21-day fast
- 30 days or longer
What do I recommend? If you have never fasted before for spiritual purposes, I suggest you begin with fasting one meal, whether it is breakfast, or lunch or dinner. If you fast your dinner meal, you will eat your breakfast the next morning.
Once you are comfortable with how your body reacts to not being fed, you can progress to the next step, ie, fasting two meals, or going from a one day to three-day fast.
If you are considering a fasting period longer than 30 days, please ensure that you are being Holy Spirit-led to do this and that you are healthy.
Yes, we know that Elijah, Moses, and Jesus all fasted for 40 days. We also know they were called by God to do so. So, I encourage you to know that you know that you are to fast for 30 days or longer.
5 – Prepare Your Body
When you have decided on the date your fast will begin, you can prepare your body by reducing your food intake. This is best done a few days prior to the start date.
Eat fruit and vegetables, no meat, and food lower in sugar. Your body will crave this during your fast, so reducing it now will help you later. This is especially helpful if you are fasting longer than one day.
6 – Make a Commitment to God
When you’re wondering how to start a fast, the above steps will lead you to the importance of making a commitment with God.
I’m not sure if everyone who fasts makes a commitment with God before they start their fast but that is something I do and I would encourage you to do this as well.
What I like to do is decide on the ground rules of my fast so that I don’t change my mind part-way through the fast period. Making a commitment to God keeps me accountable.
In my commitment, I include the date, the purpose, the length of the fast, the type and kind of fast, ie, what I will eat, if anything, ie, fruits and vegetables. A sample commitment is included in the free download of The Complete Fasting and Prayer Journaling Kit. This 24-page kit is chock-full of everything you need!
You can sign up to stay in touch with me to receive your free digital file of The Complete Fasting and Prayer Journaling Kit. It is included in the first Welcome email you will receive.
What to do During a Fast
The primary purpose of fasting is to focus on Jesus. Do not focus on the fact that your body is craving food. The craving will go away.
While your family is eating the meals you provide, you can spend the time praying. In fact, while you are working with food preparing meals, pray!
Carry on your normal days’ activities. If you work, continue to work. Take your breaks for times of prayer. If you are a volunteer, continue your volunteer duties.
God will help you as you prepare the family meals, do physical work, keep your regular schedule or whatever you do during the day.
If you have time to devote to prayer other than the mealtimes, then, by all means, spend that time in prayer. You may also consider reading the Bible, worshipping God, and simply being in His presence. This is the focus of fasting, to be in God’s presence as you seek more of Him in your life.
Expect that there will be some times of crankiness or irritability as your body adjusts to the lack of food, lack of caffeine and lack of sugar. You may also experience headaches and other annoyances such as tiredness or weakness. Don’t let these symptoms stop you from breaking your commitment.
You may also consider developing a schedule for early morning or before breakfast, your lunch break and after dinner. Again, spend time seeking God, worshipping, praying and reading His Word.
One other thing you can consider is to eliminate activities that would take your focus off God. Television (do you realize how many food commercials there are?), social media, electronic games, etc.
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How to Start a Fast with These 5 Kinds of Fasts
There are kinds of fasts and types of fasts. We’re now going to talk about the kinds of fasts. Part 4 in this series talks about the types of fasts.
Your body is going to feel that when you are fasting food, that you are punishing it. So, deciding on the best kind of fast is the next step.
Here are the 5 kinds of fasts you can choose from. My preferred fasts are the Normal Fast and the Partial Fast.
The Absolute Fast
The Absolute Fast means absolutely no food or water. This kind of fast is recommended for shorter periods of time, however, if you are considering a time period longer than seven days, you need to be very sure that Holy Spirit is leading you to this kind of fast and that you are in good health.
The Normal Fast
This is considered the Normal Fast to go without food but drink water or juice. This kind of fast can be for one or two meals up to several days or even three weeks. In the past, I have completed three-day fasts with only water, lots of water!
If you are considering a fast longer than 21 days, it is advisable to seek the advice of your physician, to rule out any concerns he may have.
While this post gives an overview of the types of fasting, Tiffany Montgomery from Hope Joy in Christ talks about How to Fast and Pray in a Way that Pleases God that you may find interesting. Not only does she mention the types of fasting, but she also covers how to begin fasting. I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading it!
The Juice Fast
This fast is simply having either fruit or vegetable juice only. This means no coffee, no tea, and no soda pop. Sugar and caffeine will stimulate your body to crave more. So commit to only fruit juice (natural sugar) or vegetable juice.
The Partial Fast
This fast is often called the Daniel Fast because it allows you to eat fruit and/or vegetables along with water, juice or broth.
One time I was following a partial fast and I had eggs and some vegetables in the fridge that needed to be eaten. I committed to having one egg or vegetable per day, for either my morning or noon meal. The rest of the fast was water only. I was actually able to fulfill a 40-day fast with minimal food and lots of water along with prayer. Of course, the eggs and vegetables ran out after about 12 days or so, then it was drinking lots of water for the rest of the time.
The Rotational Fast
You may not have heard of this fast but it allows you to rotate eating certain foods over a few days. For example, you would have some fruit on day 1, day 2 will be water or fruit juice, and on day 3, have certain vegetables. You would rotate this for this duration of your fast period.
The Best Way to Break a Fast
So, we’ve learned how to start a fast and now it is time to learn the best way to break a fast.
There’s the right way and the wrong way to end a fast. The best way to break a fast is with food, of course, but not a juicy cheeseburger. If you did that, you would send your stomach into overdrive and then quite possibly go crazy eating all kinds of things.
The best way to break a fast, especially after an extended fast is to gradually introduce food to your system. But, not just any food. Certain kinds of food.
Remember, your body hasn’t had any food for the past number of days and you don’t want to upset your stomach or have stomach pains by eating big meals right away. You need to reintroduce food gradually.
Here are some suggestions to help you end your fast properly from Dr. Bill Bright, 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting: [in italics]
If you end your fast gradually, the beneficial physical and spiritual effects will result in continued good health.
- Break an extended water fast with fruit such as watermelon.
While continuing to drink fruit or vegetable juices, add the following:
- First day: Add a raw salad.
- Second day: Add baked or boiled potato, no butter or seasoning.
- Third day: Add a steamed vegetable.
- Thereafter: Begin to reintroduce your normal diet.
- Gradually return to regular eating with several small snacks during the first few days. Start with a little soup and fresh fruit such as watermelon and cantaloupe. Advance to a few tablespoons of solid foods such as raw fruits and vegetables or a raw salad and baked potato.
The best way to break a fast is to expect results. If you were serious in your time of prayer and fasting, God will honour your faithfulness.
End your fast in a time of praise and worship, 1 Samuel 2:1-10.
When your fast has ended, carry out the work God has given you during the time of your fast. In other words, if you were seeking Him for direction and He answered you, then begin to proceed in that direction.
Wrapping Up Prayer and Fasting, Starting and Ending a Fast
Well, that about covers the topics of prayer and fasting, how to start a fast, the best way to break a fast and fasting food in general.
I hope this has been helpful to you and that you feel confident in starting a fast under the leading of Holy Spirit.
If you haven’t already, you can read the other blog posts in this series to catch up on everything.
- Part 1 – Does Prayer and Fasting Include Humility? Truth Revealed!
- Part 2 – Should Christians Fast and Pray Today?
- Part 3 – 10 Powerful Benefits of Prayer and Fasting
- Part 4 – 10 Proven Types of Fasting in the Bible
Is there something you would like to add or talk about? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
Remember to sign up to receive your own copy of The Complete Fasting and Prayer Journaling Kit! It will arrive in your first Welcome email! Sign up below!
Cindy Barnes has been called by God in the early 80s to be a teacher of His Word. She is a serious student of the Word, focusing on the Inductive Bible Study Method since 2007. Her passion is to teach women how to study the Bible using this method. In addition, she desires for women to develop an intense yearning to draw closer to God through reading and writing out the Bible.
Cindy teaches hundreds of women in her private online Bible Study Group who express their joy of growing deeper in their spiritual walk.
You can stay in touch with Cindy on Facebook through 215 Ministry.