1. Consider Talking to Your Doctor
There are many medical resources with tips for fasting. Be sure to talk to your doctor if you, or those who closest to you, have any concerns at all. Discuss what is safe for you. Fasting can have dire effects on medical conditions, so educate yourself and know your limits. Most people are able to fast safely, but you may have to stay within certain guidelines.
Also, if at any time you’re considering an extended fast, be sure to mention this fact to your doctor. You will need more planning than is associated with the five days we’re fasting together.
2. Remember Your Purpose
Make sure you have a clear two-fold purpose for fasting. Earlier in this series we considered the primary, big picture purpose in fasting is always to serve God. We also considered the immediate purpose in fasting and concluded that it will typically vary greatly according to the circumstance and the individual. As a church, we want to fast to submit ourselves to God’s will for us, care for us, protection for us, and guidance to us as individuals and as a church in 2016. Adding additional emphases to your pray and fasting focus is up to you, but you’d want make sure any additional emphases also aligned with Scripture. Pray about it, God and his people will lead you.
3. Plan It Out
As you sure up your purpose for a given fast, you can then begin to finalize your fasting plan. If you’re going to limit yourself to liquids only then you’ll want to plan ahead and stock up on plenty of juices, etc., so you’ll have plenty on hand for your fast. If your fasting as a group, you’ll want to make sure you align your plans to the plans of others who can help to encourage you and hold you accountable.
4. Check Your Schedule
Consider the people around you. Is there a birthday party, anniversary, or other celebration during our five days of fasting? If your growling stomach and sad expression are going to be a wet blanket, plan around that. You have the flexibility to love the people around you well. We want to be sacrificial, not legalistic.
Consider your responsibilities. Fasting involves spending time alone with Jesus. If you have too many demands on your time during this time period, you won’t be able to sit and commune with God well. Remember, the point of fasting isn’t just to be hungry; it’s to take the time you would normally spend eating and use it to focus on God and draw near to him.
5. Avoid Overdoing it Pre-Fast
As tempting as it is, one final, massive meal just before you jump into a fast is unhelpful. Taper down on your intake leading up to your fast, especially with caffeine and sugar. Ramp down to not eating and it will help soften the blow.
6. End Well
Ending a fast is similar to beginning—it’s best to do so slowly. Even after five days, your stomach won’t be ready for the all-you-can-eat pancake bar with extra syrup and whipped cream. Start simply, with boring foods like plain vegetables or broth. Take your time and eat small quantities, gradually increasing your intake. Listen to your body and take it slow—it takes your brain 20 minutes to realize you’re full, so it’s easy to overstuff and have an unpleasant re-introduction to the eating world.
7. Focus and Pray
Fasting isn’t a burden or a requirement for belonging to God. It’s a gift that helps you to know and draw near to your heavenly Father, so keep your eyes on Jesus throughout your fast.
Above all things, pray. Talk to your father who loves you. Pray about your fast, pray about your plan, and pray when you’re hungry. Pray about your motives and be honest, pray about your limitations, and remember that God won’t be impressed if your fast is more difficult. He’s already fully pleased with you because of Jesus, so fast in whichever way you choose and praise God that you don’t have to earn his favor through misery! For all these reasons, we can rejoice as we fast.
We will break our fast corporately Friday January 8 at 6:30pm. At this time we’ll gather to pray and worship God together as a church, to celebrate who he is, what he’s done, and everything he will do in and through us in the coming year.
This will be a family style service that will conclude with a potluck dinner. Please bring healthy dishes since many breaking their fast will need foods that are easy for the body to digest.