Jesus confirmed fasting as a standard practice for His disciples, especially after His death and resurrection.
Jesus said “the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.”—Matthew 9:15 KJV
In our ministry we understand that fasting is an essential practice of a consecrated lifestyle. In recent years many Christian ministries have revived the practice of fasting and applied this commitment to a corporate fast once a year in January.
Daniel Fast (21-day vegetable fast)
In January we choose to follow a Daniel Fast—a diet of mainly vegetables and water for 21 days to consecrate ourselves at the start of the New Year.
Vegetables, preferably fresh or frozen vegetables. Vegetables such as potatoes, beans, peas, and soybeans (such as tofu) may help provide substance
Pure fruit juices or fruit (no sweetened drinks or sweetened fruit): apple juice, orange juice, grapefruit juice, cranberry juice
Water. Drink 8 glasses of water daily throughout the fast. This is very important.
It is advisable to take vitamin, mineral, and possibly protein supplements. Some people may need to eat eggs.
Side effects and exceptions
You may experience moderate to severe headaches for the first day or two as your body rids itself of caffeine, salt, sugar, and various impurities. You may need to take an analgesic like aspirin. Anyone with a medical condition related to eating or under the treatment of a physician must consult their doctor. Children, especially small children, will have special needs that must be considered.
Under these conditions, find some sacrifice in the area of food that can be made without endangering health. Also, if you have extreme difficulty with the fast, such as impairment of your ability to work at your job, you will have to make adjustments. This is not a failure of will but is wisdom. Seek the Lord and discuss it with other Christians involved in the fast to find alternatives.
Fasting from sex is a consensual sacrifice of married couples “Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”—1 Corinthians 7:5 KJV
Restricting television and entertainment
It will be difficult for you to consecrate yourself if you maintain the same schedule of television and movies during times of fasting. During your fast, try to examine all of the ways you spend your time and become more conscious of where you need to make adjustments.
Follow your own conscience and convictions
The precise details of your fast are between you and God. In Romans 14, the apostle Paul cautioned the church to relate in love to one another in the matter of what we eat or choose not to eat.
“Each person is free to follow the convictions of his own conscience.”—Romans 14 MSG
If this is your first fast, you may not be able to endure as many restrictions as someone else who fasts frequently. In the future, live a “fasted lifestyle,” increasingly accommodating God and not the flesh.
Fasting for Results
Dramatic results occur in earth as in heaven through the prayer and fasting of consecrated people.
“And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.”—Matthew 9:15 KJV
In the Old and New Testaments, leaders fasted and called a fast as a sign of humbling themselves before God and demonstrating sorrow for sin. These fasts were described as times of humiliation that were pleasing to God because people acknowledged His greatness and His holiness and understood that they had fallen short. For example, the prophet Huldah (a woman) sent a message to King Josiah that God was pleased with his humility and repentance. King Josiah humbled himself before the Lord and God heard him.
2 Kings 22:19 NLT “You were sorry and humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I said against this city and its people—that this land would be cursed and become desolate. You tore your clothing in despair and wept before me in repentance. And I have indeed heard you, says the Lord.”
In the New Testament, the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch were engaging in a time of consecration and fasting when the Holy Spirit gave them a message for Paul and Barnabas:
“Among the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch of Syria were Barnabas, Simeon (called ‘the black man’), Lucius (from Cyrene), Manaen (the childhood companion of King Herod Antipas), and Saul. One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Appoint Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.’ So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way.”—Acts 13:1-3 NLT
Prayer and fasting are a part of the walk of humility that brings you closer to Christ-likeness. Fasting is a sacrifice that shows how dedicated you are to following the will of God. It is a voluntary step of humility, a very simple one to demonstrate that you are not carrying on with business-as-usual. You want to be numbered among those whom God considers His saints who are in covenant with Him by sacrifice.
Covenant of sacrifice. “Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”—Psalm 50:5 KJV
Jesus created you and he wants you to have the right perspective about every area of your life, including what you eat or don’t eat. Food is part of life and the right foods are necessary for your health, both spiritual and natural. Food provides basic building blocks for your body that are required for life and health. However, food should never be your focus, especially the wrong food—things you know that you should not be eating. When you maintain a biblical perspective for your basic needs, you demonstrate your sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. Taking care of your body is taking care of the temple of the Holy Ghost. (See 1 Corinthians 3:16.)
Jesus Was Sustained By Doing God’s Will
When Jesus’ disciples found Him talking to the Samaritan woman, they offered Him some of the food that they had brought back, but He turned them down. They thought He must have already eaten. Jesus did not live to eat. He ate to live. His work was more important to Him than physical food. Fasting was a natural part of His consecrated life.
“But Jesus replied, ‘I have a kind of food you know nothing about.’
“‘Did someone bring him food while we were gone?’ the disciples asked each other.
“Then Jesus explained: ‘My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work.’”—John 4:32-34 NLT
Right Eating for Health While Focusing on the Will Of God
One of Jesus’ foundational teachings from the Sermon on the Mount relates to our perspective on food.
Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?”—Matthew 6:25 KJV
Right eating is important to a healthy mind and a healthy spirit. Watch what you eat and drink, and notice how it affects you—sugar, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, soft drinks, fatty foods, etc. Read the labels and online warnings of health professionals about additives. Watch your salt intake. When you eat the wrong foods, you harm your body, hinder your thinking ability, and decrease your level of faith. You do not show the proper respect for the temple of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus did not have to eat until the will of God was done. Having the right perspective on food means that you eat the proper foods for the health of your body, soul, and spirit.
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Joshua told the Israelites before they entered the Promised Land, "Consecrate yourself!" Greatness is being developed in your life every day if you are seeking God in a lifestyle of consecration as Jesus did.