Practical Suggestions for Fasting
If you are a normal healthy person, you should have no significant physical problems in a one-day, sun-up-to-sun-down fast with water. However, if you have diabetes, blood pressure issues, heart trouble, or other significant physical problems (or suspect you may) or you are pregnant or take any kind of medication, ask your doctor whether you should fast. Also, all persons should check with their doctors about longer fasts (with water) or any fasts without water.
Ask God to guide you about when to fast and for how long, and make God the focus of your fasting, seeking Him through prayer, Scripture reading, and meditation. Although God recognizes your fast from the very beginning, it may take eighteen to twenty-four hours from your last meal before your bodily functions slow down to the point where you notice greater mental acuity and spiritual sensitivity. At this stage, you may find yourself more focused and bold in your praying. If so, be alert to the Holy Spirit’s promptings in how to pray and for any conviction of sin, personal encouragement, special guidance, and direction. Also, you may find blessing by taking some time to sit quietly before the Lord and just “gaze upon the beauty of the Lord” (Ps. 27:4) by pondering His grace and love, power and wisdom, indeed, any of His perfections.
If you have never fasted or haven’t fasted for a long time, consider doing some short fasts to send your body a signal, that is, to put it on notice. Your body is accustomed to being pampered and fed tasty cuisine on a regular basis; it may grumble if its delicacies are suddenly withdrawn without notice. In some cases it can whine and complain with minor, temporary physical symptoms like hunger sensations, headaches, constant thoughts of food, feeling cold, etc. (Those who regularly use caffeine or nicotine may have withdrawal symptoms, but they will pass.) While these complaints amount to nothing and are short-lived, they may be distracting. The message you want to send your body is, I am in charge, and you will do what I say. This is important, because the body is meant to be our servant not our master. We should eat to live, not live to eat. This points out one of the basic spiritual challenges for anyone who fasts: to exercise one’s reason and will to take authority over one’s body and its desires in order to walk by the Spirit and not the flesh.
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