Fasting

The goal of fasting is to draw nearer to God. Biblical fasting always has to do with eliminating distractions for a spiritual purpose; it hits the reset button of our soul and renews us from the inside out. It also enables us to celebrate the goodness and mercy of God and prepares our hearts for all the good things God desires to bring into our lives. Remember, your personal fast should present a level of challenge, but it is very important to know your body, your options, and, most importantly, to seek God in prayer and follow what the Holy Spirit leads you to do.

Types of Fasts

Complete Fast

In this type of fast, you drink only liquids, typically water with light juices as an option.

Selective Fast

This type of fast involves removing certain elements from your diet. One example of a selective fast is the Daniel Fast, during which you remove meat, sweets, and bread from your diet and consume water and juice for fluids and fruits and vegetables for food.

Partial Fast

This fast is sometimes called the “Jewish Fast” and involves abstaining from eating any type of food in the morning and afternoon. This can either correlate to specific times of the day, such as 6:00 AM to 3:00 PM, or from sunup until sundown.

Soul Fast

This fast is a great option if you do not have much experience fasting food, have health issues that prevent you from fasting food, or if you wish to refocus certain areas of your life that are out of balance. For example, you might choose to stop using social media or watching television for the duration of the fast and then carefully bring that element back into your life in healthy doses at the conclusion of the fast.

Timing of a Fast

At Newport Mesa, we encourage fasting for 21 days each year in the month of January. This is part of 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting, a season of focused prayer as a church family. You may also choose to fast at other times during the year for your own spiritual development. It’s very typical to fast a single meal, a whole day, or three days or more. The timing of your fast is not as important as the strength of your focus on God as you fast.

Scripture References

Matthew 6:16-18
Matthew 9:14-15
Luke 18:9-14
Acts 27:33-37
Nehemiah 9:1-3

Why Fasting?

Why fast?  It makes no sense in our culture.  Why would we intentionally withhold our natural source of replenishment—food?  In addition, why would we do it all at the same time, as a church?
 
Historically, fasting has long been a spiritual discipline embraced by God’s people throughout both the Old Covenant and into the New Covenant.  Jesus practiced this relational rhythm (Matthew 4 and parallels) and he expected his disciples to do it (Matthew 9:15 and parallels.)  The early church fasts (Acts 9:9, 13:2) and tradition tells us they continue to do so long into Christianity’s expansion across the globe.  However, somewhere along the way, in some traditions, and especially in North American culture, it has faded as a practice to experience God’s sustenance.
 
The North American cultural value of consumption tricks us into thinking food (and other products and services) can solve our problems and make us happy.   When my body screams, “Feed me,” I jump to obey its command.  Has God made food for the body or the body for food?  This consumer mentality warps our understanding of the Kingdom, our bodies, and how we spend time with our Father.  We have busier schedules, more stuff, and have never felt less connected to what matters most.  We need to recalibrate some things.
 
The New Year provides a natural place in our yearly cycle to reevaluate and listen to what God would want to do in our lives this coming year.  This is needed not only for our individual lives but also as a church.  We chose 21 days because that is the length of days Daniel fasted for spiritual breakthrough in Daniel 10:13.  All of us have areas in our lives where we need God to give us special revelation, discernment, and guidance concerning His plans.
 
Our church family is no different!  Since the church is a body, we also practice spiritual disciplines together as a way of staying healthy, increasing unity, and preparing our hearts for what this year has in store for us.  We subtract food to decrease distraction and increase intimacy, communication, and reliance on God.  As we invest time with Him through prayer and the Word, He begins to fertilize the soil of our hearts.  The “fruits” of fasting are usually harvested in the months and years ahead.

Resources on Prayer & Fasting

Recalibrate Tool

Jordan Hansen

Fasting 101 Questions

Jentzen Franklin

How To Pray

Jordan Hansen

7 Basic Steps to Successful Fasting and Prayer

Bill Right

Guide to Fasting and Prayer

Bill Right

Teaching Your  Child or Teen to Fast

Sharon Noble