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Beginning Your Fast

Your time for fasting and prayer has come. You are abstaining from all solid foods and have begun to seek the Lord. Oddly enough, this is the very moment when some sense a little letdown-an uneasy feeling that says, “Well, here I am. Now what do I do?”

Permit me to share some helpful suggestions to consider while you are fasting.

First, restrict your activity. Rigorous exercise such as cycling, fast walking, and jogging come highly recommended with programs that offer special diets for health and weight loss-but not for fasting. If you engage in strenuous labor, you may want to fast only one day during the week, limiting yourself to partial fasting.

Second, expect to visit the “facilities” often. Drinking plenty of fluids will necessitate this. Once you stop eating, your bowels cease normal functions. And, once you start eating again, the digestive tract resumes its normal movements.

Third, be prepared for mental discomforts. You will experience some inner conflict when you deny yourself the pleasure of eating delicious food. During a three-day fast, this struggle can intensify toward the end of the second day. You can also expect the enemy to oppose you-whispering thoughts that test your resolve. When this happens to you, invite the Lord to cleanse your mind with His blood and empower you with His Holy Spirit.

Fourth, expect physical discomforts. You may experience a case of the physical “blahs” during the first few days. If so, sip water and juices frequently, rest while seeking strength in prayer, worship and God's Word.

No two fasts will be exactly alike. You may experience some struggles during one fast that do not appear the next time. The degree of difficulty you may experience seems to depend on your spiritual and physical condition at the time.

How Long Should I Fast?

The New Testament offers no detailed guidance on how long to go without food for spiritual purposes. If you have never fasted, I encourage you to start slowly.

May I Tell Others About My Fast?
Jesus gave His instructions for prayer and fasting in Matthew 6. Some interpret this passage to mean that it is wrong to let others know we are fasting. But Jesus was dealing with the hypocrisy of the Pharisees who made prayer and fasting a point of ritual and boasting to demonstrate their piety.

In this passage, Jesus is not forbidding us to tell others of our fasting. Rather, He is saying, “Avoid boasting and acting superior to others. Fasting is not an occasion to demonstrate your spirituality or to gain glory for yourself.”

If we limited our prayers to the “closet,” we would have no church prayer meetings. I want to encourage believers to fast and pray together in large numbers in their churches so they will be an inspiration to others.

How to Break Your Fast
When your designated time of fasting is finished, you will begin to eat again. But how you break your fast is extremely important-both for your physical and spiritual well-being.

If you end your fast gradually, as you should, the beneficial physical and spiritual effects will linger for days. But if you rush into eating solid foods-and the prospect of food can cause you to do that-you may experience diarrhea, sickness, fainting and even death due to shock. This is especially true of an extended fast.

Overcoming Failure

Every fast has its struggles, discomforts, spiritual victories and failures. In the morning you may feel like you are on top of the world, but by evening you may be wrestling with the flesh-sorely tempted to raid the refrigerator and counting how much longer you have to go. Especially if you are new at fasting. This is the time to step outside for some fresh air and a moderate walk of a mile or two.

If you fail to make it through your first fast, do not be discouraged. Quitting a fast may only mean that you may have tried to fast too long the first time out, or that you need to strengthen your understanding and resolve. As soon as possible, undertake another fast until you do succeed.

Expect a Change in You

Most people experience a measure of revival as a result of fasting. But just as we need fresh infillings of the Holy Spirit daily, we also need new times of fasting before God. A single fast is not a spiritual cure-all. John and Charles Wesley advocated fasting two days a week to “keep the flesh under” and to maintain the closeness with God that fasting brings.

I encourage you to join me in fasting and prayer again and again and again until we truly experience revival in our homes, our churches, our beloved nation and in the world.


[Excerpt from Chapter 10, The Coming Revival by Bill Bright]

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