These guidelines will help you begin or enhance an existing fasting lifestyle. This includes establishing fasting as an intentional, planned rhythm in our spiritual lives—one of the best ways to deepen our abiding. Pray through the suggestions below and ask the Lord what He wants you to do.
What is the purpose of fasting?
Overall, the purpose of a fasting lifestyle is intimacy with God and clarity in hearing His voice, in abiding at a deeper level. But at times we may want to purpose to seek Him for specifics such as guidance, provision, healing, revival, or for issues of concern for our family, church, ministry, or nation. On those occasions, write down your purpose for the fast, and when it is over, note how the Lord has led you.
Fasting, like other disciplines, is something we learn through experience.
Begin where you are. If the Lord is leading you to begin a fasting lifestyle for the first time, be reasonable with your expectations. Begin with something you feel you can do with God’s help—in other words, it should be a bit of a stretch for you.
Plan for additional time spent in prayer.
Whatever the specified purpose, your season of fasting would typically include additional time spent in prayer, above and beyond your normal daily routine. If that isn’t possible, consider refocusing your daily prayer time—more worship, deeper surrender, more thorough confession of sin, and prayer focused on the people or concerns you are fasting for.
Choose a type of fast.
- A complete fast involves abstaining from all food. Water, clear juice, and bouillon are permitted. (Some people also opt to include unsweetened coffee or tea.) Note: it is important to drink an adequate amount of water during a complete fast.
- A Daniel fast, sometimes called “selective fast”, involves removing meat, sweets, and bread from your diet.
- A partial fast involves going without specific foods and/or beverages. (For example, you might opt to fast from coffee, carbonated drinks, desserts, or fast food.)
- A soul fast involves abstaining from a non-food item. (For example, you might opt to fast from television or social media.)
Choose the length of your fast.
- One meal—typically either lunch or dinner
- One day—sunrise to sunset
- Wesley fast—once or twice a week, fasting daily (from sundown on previous day to 3:00 pm)
- Biblical fasts: 3 days, 10 days, 21 days, or 40 days
Select a frequency to establish a natural rhythm.
Common frequencies may include once a quarter, once a month, or once a week.
“Fasting is feasting on fellowship with God.” -David Platt