Do you desire to encounter God and receive miracles through fasting and prayer? You can. Fasting is a love-offering to God that brings HUGE results. But, sometimes people aren’t sure how to begin fasting, or even if they can fast at all. If you aren’t sure how on earth to start fasting, read on!
First, let me say that fasting is for everybody.
In Matthew 6:16-18, Jesus said:
“Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly” (Matthew 6:16-18 NKJV).
Jesus didn’t say, “If you fast.” He didn’t say “If you ever, perhaps, maybe, consider this extreme act of fasting.” No; He listed “when you fast” along with instructions for “when you pray” and when you give alms to the poor and do charitable deeds.
Jesus wasn’t listing fasting as anything extraordinary; it’s one of the basic functions of a Christian, done out of relationship with God. Just like prayer and caring for the poor, we fast because we love God.
But how can you get started in fasting and prayer?
Most importantly, learn what the Bible says and avoid legalism. There is a lot of legalistic teaching about fasting in the Christian world. I have learned through the years, however, that fasting is far more personal and relational–and far less rules-based–than most Christians make it out to be.
If you’re ready to begin fasting but you need some tips, here are 12 keys to fasting and prayer (listed in no particular order of importance):
1. Live a fasted life.
Make fasting and prayer something you do continually. (See Matthew 6, above.) Sound extreme? It’s not. This is normal Christianity. And living a fasted life–whether you fast every week on the same day, or whether you move from one extended fast to the next without much of a break in between–will keep you on miracle territory every day.
When I say “live a fasted life,” I don’t mean that you have to go from one fast to the other without any rest. A period of fasting is a period of contending with God and offering sacrifices (of various kinds) to Him. Doing this can be exhausting, both physically and mentally. So it’s often good to rest after a fast.
That doesn’t mean to gorge yourself with whatever you were fasting from, but it does mean to take a break and let the pressure off. Then, after a few days or however long the Lord leads you, get back to it. Live a fasted life, and you will notice a huge difference in the move of God in your life.
2. Don’t make rules where God made none.
How you fast, what you fast from, and how long you fast are decisions that are between you and God. His Word doesn’t require you to do any particular kind of fast.
Moral of the story: If you feel led to do a particular kind of fast, do it. Don’t let someone else tell you that your sacrifice to God isn’t good enough. As long as you make your sacrifice with a right heart, God will accept it.
3. No matter how you fast, drink lots of water.
I have personally found that distilled water with added electrolytes is best for my body while fasting. Drinking chlorinated public water while fasting makes me feel sick, rather than strong. But drinking bottled, distilled water with added electrolytes (of whatever brand) helps me feel strong and stay hydrated.
4. When you begin your fast, write down that you intend to fast by God’s grace. Ask Him for help.
Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 says this:
“When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; for He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed—better not to vow than to vow and not pay” (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 NKJV).
It’s better not to vow to the Lord than it is to vow and not pay your vow, so I learned long ago not to vow to fast. Instead, I commit my time of consecration and fasting to the Lord, asking Him for help and letting Him know that I intend to fast–but, like everybody, my spirit is willing but my flesh is weak. I ask Him for help to complete the fast, and I rely on His grace every day.
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5. Fast for a period of time that means something to you.
In the Bible, people fasted for various lengths of time. Daniel fasted for 21 days. Moses supernaturally fasted for 40 days. Jesus fasted for 40 days. You might choose to fast for 21 days, 40 days, 7 days, 5 days, or 1 day–or any other period of time.
The specific duration of your fast is not the most important thing. The most important thing is that you fast for the period of time the Lord leads you to fast.
The Lord might lead you into a specific period of time for fasting based on a Bible verse. (For example, fasting for 37 days and praying through Psalm 37.) He might lead you into a 21-day fast like Daniel, or He might lead you to a 3-day or 5-day fast. He led me into a 61-day fast last year, based on Isaiah 61.
No matter what time period He leads you to fast, make sure your faith is connected to that time period. There are no rules in the Bible about the length of time you have to choose. But, whatever is not of faith is sin. 🙂
6. As you fast, pray.
Fasting without prayer is merely dieting. If you are in a fasting season, set aside extra time to pray every day. For example:
- Seek the Lord during the times when you would otherwise be eating.
- Or, get up a little extra-early or stay up extra-late to pray.
- Leave your office during your lunch break and go somewhere private (even your vehicle!) and pray.
Seek the Lord in prayer as you fast. Doing so will not only fill you up and fuel your fast with God’s grace and strength, but will also accomplish the thing for which you are fasting.
7. It helps to write down a prayer list at the beginning of your fast.
You don’t have to fast for only one thing unless the Lord leads you to do so. I usually write down a whole long prayer list at the beginning of my fast. The only time I don’t do this is either if I am fasting for one thing only OR if I am fasting over an existing prayer list I already wrote down!
8. Make visual memorials unto the Lord as He answers your prayers.
It will build your faith PLUS honor God to make memorials to Him as He moves in your life. Personally, I like to do this using stickers.
I have bunches of star stickers, happy-face stickers, etc. And when God answers one of my prayer requests that is on my prayer list, I put a sticker next to or on top of that item on my list in my journal.
I even know people who paint rocks as memorials when God answers a big prayer. They use the painted rocks to commemorate what He has done!
God is very into memorials.
When the Israelites crossed over the Jordan into the Promised Land, He had them pick up rocks from the river and build a memorial with them. Even if your memorial is simple–like star stickers or painted rocks–do something to acknowledge to the Lord what He has done for you.
Of course, appreciating God and His work begins with thanksgiving and praise. But making a visual memorial unto the Lord honors Him and builds your faith.
9. If your sacrifice means nothing to you, it will mean nothing to God.
If you hate broccoli and never eat it, but you choose to “fast” from broccoli, your sacrifice means nothing. It means nothing to you and it means nothing to God. Personally, I am a vegetarian. I don’t eat meat, so fasting from meat like a lot of people do isn’t an option for me. I already don’t eat it, so fasting from meat is no sacrifice.
King David in the Bible refused to offer to the Lord that which cost him nothing. (See 2 Samuel 24:24.) And he was right. When it comes to fasting, offering a “sacrifice” to the Lord that requires no sacrifice from you is an insult to God.
When you pick what you’re going to fast from, you don’t have to adhere to anyone else’s rules. But, you do have to pick something to fast from that actually requires a sacrifice from you. If it means something to you, it will mean something to God. But if it means nothing to you, it will mean nothing to God.
10. Everybody can fast from something.
I have heard people tell me, “I don’t fast because I’m not medically able.” What they mean is that they don’t fast like other people tell them they should because they’re not medically able. They may not be able to fast on nothing but water for three days or any other period. However, everyone can fast something.
Personally, I have medical issues that prevent me from skipping meals. So when I fast, I work around that. For example, I might:
- Eat only a protein shake (protein powder blended up in water or almond milk) to replace a meal;
- Fast from desserts; or
- Wait to eat until after a certain time each morning.
But, there are other people who fast from meat, from breads, or who might even fast from their favorite soda or tea. To each his own. Everybody can fast from something.
I’ve heard of people fasting from social media or from watching TV. You might feel led to fast from anything which is habit-forming and time-wasting like that. No matter what, you can pick something in your life that makes a worthy sacrifice to the Lord, and fast from that.
Moral of the story: Don’t let the devil or other people’s expectations rob you of a glorious time with the Lord in fasting and prayer.
11. Keep a journal while you fast.
I always recommend keeping a journal throughout your fast. It’s best to keep a spiritual journal all the time, but particularly during fasting. In your journal, write down anything you feel led:
- Your prayer list;
- The Scriptures you’re reading as you study the Word during your fast;
- Various prayers of your heart; and
- Record what God does in answer to your prayers.
Always write down what God does in response to your prayers. It will encourage you to review that periodically (even once a day) as you move through your fasting season.
12. Don’t stack one fast upon another.
The Lord taught me this long ago. Years ago, I would begin a fast–but then encounter some type of difficulty. And as soon as I did, I would feel like I needed to fast more and offer a sacrifice that hurt worse in order to get through that difficulty.
For example, if I started out fasting from desserts, but then encountered some kind of difficult circumstance in my life, I would suddenly start fasting from breads and pastas as well–thinking that God wouldn’t help me if I didn’t fast harder.
Beloved, that mindset is so wrong.
Your sacrifice is a love-offering to the Lord. It is not a way to get Him to help you; He will help you anyway.
Fasting does bring acceleration and blessing. It brings breakthrough and miracles. Those things are God’s responses to your love-offering. But fasting is not how you earn God’s faithfulness. He IS faithful whether you fast or not, and He will still help you even if you’re not fasting.
I encourage you to pray about this for yourself. Ask the Lord to purge you from a works-based mentality that tells you you have to earn everything from God. Study His Word about grace and rest, and ask Him to teach you to fast as a love-offering, not as a way to earn His faithfulness to you.
There you have it: 12 keys to fasting and prayer, written down in no particular order of importance. 🙂
Do these keys help you? Or, do you have additional questions? If so, leave a comment below!
More on fasting and prayer:
- 5 Days to Victorious Fasting
- Fasting Brings Acceleration
- Prophetic Word on Fasting
- 10 Practical Tips for Easy Fasting
- Supernatural Grace for Glorious Fasting
- 12 Victories You Can Gain Through Fasting
- 5-Day Harvest Fast Prayer Plan
- Field Notes from My Fasting Failures
- On Intercessory Fasting
- If You’re Discouraged and Considered Fasting