Fasting, when combined with the practice of prayer, is a powerful tool God uses to increase our desire for him and to focus our prayers for greater effectiveness.
A basic definition of fasting is…
“the withholding of food for a certain amount of time for the sake of creating a more disciplined and earnest attitude of prayer.”
How does this work? The simplest way to explain it is to say that the moments we inevitably feel unfulfilled hunger pains of food should instead move us to pray. We translate our natural hunger for food, which is necessary for life, into prayer. Our physical yearnings are transferred into spiritual hunger for God, for the life we have in him, and for him to do what only he can do.
Consider these two simple guidelines if you are new to fasting:
1) A fast doesn’t always have a particular time limit on it or specific rules you must follow about what to give up. You can fast for a day or for a month. You can do a water-only or a juice-only fast. You can fast one meal once a week or one full day every month. You can abstain from certain foods like desserts, and when you feel the urge to reach for a cookie, your desire can be channeled into an urgency to pray. There are no rules. Do what will create in you a greater urgency and hunger to pray.
2) Be mindful of any health issues that could make a fast unwise. For example, if you are a diabetic or have any other physical condition that requires a strict diet, be especially mindful not to put yourself in a compromised position as a result of a fast. I also discourage the idea of fasting for those who struggle with eating disorders that are making intake of food a challenge and concern in their daily living. The point of the fast is to combine it with a more intense, focused time of prayer that brings a greater communion with God, a greater empowerment of the Spirit, and a greater earnestness in your soul.
There is a time to feast. And there is a time to fast. Make sure both fosters a greater awareness to pray without ceasing.