Which Type of Fast is Best for You?
In my last post, “Do You Need a Breakthrough?” I shared with you God’s method to breakthrough from a stronghold of the enemy over our lives. Also, I gave you lists of both physical and spiritual benefits of prayer and fasting. And I promised you that in today’s post that we would discuss a few different types of fasts found in the Bible. Let’s get started on our study of prayer and fasting and move into the promised land of Breakthrough.
There are different types of fasts throughout the Bible. Read through the list and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to the one that is best for you.
- A General Fast is when you abstain from eating all food, but you do drink water. Like Jesus did when He was led into the wilderness, see Matthew 4: 1-11.
- A Partial Fast, such as the Daniel fast found in the Book of Daniel 1: 12, ““Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink.” Their diet consisted of only vegetables to eat and water to drink. And then again in Daniel 10:2-3 where it says, “In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.” This type of fast lasts for 21 days, and not only restricts choice foods, meats, alcohol from the diet, but also forbids the luxury to use anointing oils and lotions.
- A Total Fast, is when one goes without food and water. An example of this can be found in Acts 9:9 with the conversion of Saul to Paul, “And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.” And another example of this can be found in Esther 4: 15-16, “Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai: “Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!”
In these 2 examples of a total fast, both lasted for 3 days, they ate no food and drank no water. And one example is of an individual, Paul fasting and the other shows us an example of a corporate fast, with Esther and the Jews.
Words of wisdom concerning prayer and fasting.
o Remember, it is PRAYER and fasting. Without prayer, it is just another form of dieting and this is not God’s purpose for fasting.
o Keep in mind that while you are fasting, especially during longer fasts that your physical body will not function as it normally does. It will tire more easily, you may have to fight off a headache or two, and there will be moments that your digestive system will hurt, mainly in the beginning of an extended fast and when coming off of a fast. That’s why you need to slowly work into a fast, and the same is required for coming off of a fast.
o A few days before you start your fast, cut back on food intake, caffeine, sugar and salt, and increase your water intake. And when it is time to come off of a fast, your digestive system has not been functioning as normal and it can’t handle large amounts of food. Use caution and do not overload your system.
o I would also caution someone that is struggling with anorexia or some other type of physical struggle or sickness and disease that you use common sense and ask your physician for medical advice how you can participate in this biblical practice.
o Also, for married couples your sexual organs will not function as normal and you will be wise to heed the scriptural advice in 1 Corinthians 7:3-6, “Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. But I say this as a concession, not as a commandment.”
How long should you fast for?
Honestly, there are no set rules for how long you should fast for. I recommend that you pray to the Lord and ask Him how long your fast should be. If you have not developed your spiritual listening ear to hear Him respond, then I suggest that you first fast for a day, and work your way up from there.
Several years ago, we had a young man volunteer with our mission for one and a half years. Before he left, he wanted to learn how to fast. He observed my husband and I fast for extended periods of time, but felt he was not ready for that. So, he sought the Lord, and this is the plan God gave to him.
The first week, he fasted for one full day. The second week, he fasted for two full days, third week, 3 days, and so forth. Until he worked up to the seventh week and he fasted for 7 full days. Perhaps, this could be a plan for some of you who have never fasted before.
In the Bible we see that God’s people fasted anywhere from 1 to 40 days.
During times of prayer and fasting, I purchase a new notebook. I purchase the biggest one I can find, and I journal throughout the day. On the first page, I write down the start and end dates of the fast. I add to this page Scripture verses that I will stand on, and specific prayer requests or reasons for the fast.
This past year, I have been fasting often with a good friend of mine. We decide what type of fast we will do, and for how long, usually 1-3 days per week. We share our present personal needs, the needs of our families, and those who we know that need us to stand in the gap for them with our prayers and fasting. We have seen many answers to prayer come to pass. It has been wonderful.
So, choose your type of fast, set your dates, purchase your journals, and let the breakthroughs and the miracles begin!
The next post will be devoted to going on a 40 day fast.