Spiritual Life

What Fasting Is Not

Thoughts on What Fasting Is and Isn’t 

We are in the prime fasting season for many church goers. Fasting is biblical and can produce tremendous results in our spiritual lives. It also requires an element of sacrifice that can cause even the most ardent believer to look forward to the end of a beneficial fast. Be honest, I know I am not the only one!

I have seen different types of fasts over the years. There is the Daniel Fast, the Media Fast, and others that are very helpful. Then there are things that get mixed in with fasting that don’t really have anything to do with a spiritual fast. I once had a friend tell me his fast was going to the gym every day at 5AM. Another friend told me he was fasting Coke while still drinking every other kind of soda. Some of the things people call fasting are funny and others just show there needs more explanation on the subject.

That is why I want to share these four observations of what fasting is not.

4 Things Fasting Is Not

Working out is not fasting

At the beginning of the year people make the decision “this the year” they are going to get in shape. While a good thing, focusing on lifting weights and burning calories is not the same as focusing on God. I think the timing causes us to spiritualize something that is good and beneficial but it is definitely not a fast.

Perfection is not fasting

A moment of weakness or falling short should not derail your fast. If you get hungry and need to eat some nuts then don’t follow that up with a trip to the buffet at Golden Corral and give up on fasting. Tomorrow is a new day.

Binging and Purging is not fasting

It’s easy to turn fasting into a diet, but then you miss out on the spiritual benefits. The purpose of a spiritual fast is to spend the time you would be eating drawing closer to God and/or serving others (see Isaiah 58). My suggestion is to not just skip a meal and then eat twice as much later or make your fast only about eating more healthy. Instead, consider packing a devotion instead of a sandwich for lunch or take a walk to pray instead of working through your meal break.

Loneliness is not fasting

Don’t do fasting alone. Get with some friends even if they have different goals. Pray with and for each other. Write down your fasting plan (this helps me not change my fast when I inevitably want to) and pray for and with each other.

What is Fasting?

Fasting is a time that we set aside to give up food or other things in order to draw closer to God and serve others better.  It helps us refocus our attention on God by unplugging from the world. It can reset our perspectives and help us detox from things that pollute our souls.

While you may become a better you and go through some sacrifice during a fast those things are not really the point. Hopefully at the end of your fast you find yourself closer to God and being a better reflection of Him to those in your world.

There are lots of resources on fasting. I have included a few below for your reference.

Fasting: Opening the door to a deeper, more intimate, more powerful relationship with God

7 Basic Steps to Successful Fasting & Prayer

Awakening: A New Approach to Faith, Fasting, and Spiritual Freedom

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