Fasting. I don’t do it well. I usually get frustrated and quit early on.
This year I decided to give the first fruits of my year to God, so I fasted New Year’s day. Surprisingly, it was an amazing time. Here are a few tips that have helped me successfully fast.
- Start Small. If you don’t practice this discipline often, avoid the multi-day fast. Sure, you should eventually work up to a longer fast, but sometimes it helps to first have success with something shorter. My New Year’s day fast was only one day–24 hours.
- Strategically Time Your Fast. I started my New Year’s fast at 8 pm on New Year’s Eve (right after dinner) and continued until 8pm on New Year’s Day. This enabled me to manage my appetite. When I was getting hungry on New Year’s Day I would remember that I could break the fast in a few hours rather than the next day. This was a psychological victory.
- Fast an Item that Tends to Drive You. Food is something I enjoy. Some days it’s all I can think about. To be honest, sometimes during worship my mind wanders to what I’ll eat later. Stop judging. Sometimes you think about Facebook during worship. For others sweets are consuming; others it’s TV. The truth is that we all have something that drives us. For me, sacrificing food requires focus and concentration. This was an emotional victory.
- Focus and Concentrate on Being with God. A fast is not a diet or a way to lose weight. It’s not time to escape social media and clear your mind. These may be benefits of a fast, but the point is to spend time with God. On my 24 hour fast I determined to turn my attention to God each hour for 18 of the 24 hours. I set my iPhone alarm to go off on each hour. I then would stop whatever I was doing and have a quiet time. Sometimes I would spend a half-hour, sometimes only five minutes. It was not the length but the consistency that was important. Those minutes proved very fruitful in hearing God’s voice. This was a spiritual victory.
- Love Others. Many years ago, I ran across a Scripture that transformed how I view fasting. Isaiah 58:6-7 says “Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen: Is it not to share your food with the hungry?” Sometimes when I fast, I’ll still buy my lunch, but give it away to a homeless person rather than eat it. I don’t do this every time, but every time I do I’m changed. There are other ways you can live this out. Instead is an app that allows you to give to a non-profit instead of consuming as normal. During your fast, give away the money you would have used for food. If you don’t fast food, identify other creative ways to love people. In so doing you focus on God, AND those around you. This was victory over selfishness.
Fasting can be a great way to recalibrate your spiritual life and experience victory on several levels. I hope you’ll make an effort to practice this in 2012.
If you enjoyed this post, be sure to share it on Facebook or Twitter.
What kinds of things do you to successfully fast? Leave a comment below or you can click here.