(Explanation for the image above: I had to.)
When a pastor brings up the subject of fasting, many Christians are likely to quietly sneak out the back door before anyone notices. (But none of you would do that, right?) I hope I can clear up some of that fear, and maybe convince you that fasting is a good thing to do.
(Disclaimer: I’ve never actually fasted. At least not food. There have been times where I’ve given up things in my life to grow closer to Christ for a day or a week, but I am very weak when it comes to going without food. It’s something I want to do, and I have tried, but I’ve never gone for more than a meal. I’m just a fellow follower, not a saint.)
What do we fast from?
I believe that the idea of fasting has a modern-day equivalent. (Or close to one.) You see, now we spend so much time using technology, and so little time actually making and eating meals, that it would probably free up more time to fast from technology (or most of it.) I don’t think fasting from food should be replaced with fasting from technology. But I think that if your goal is to have more time for the other spiritual disciplines, you can do that better with fasting from technology. If your goal is to pray more throughout the day, or show yourself that you believe you need God more than other things you need, or feed more on the Word, than fasting from food is probably the way to go. I’ll talk about both of these two forms of fasting here.
Fasting from Tech
Here are some tips to help you fast from technology. If you want more time for Bible reading and/or prayer, this is probably the way to go.
#1: Turn it Off Completely
Unplug the TV. Power down your iPhone. Put away your eReader (if you’re counting that). Turn of your computer completely. Put them all away where you won’t worry about them. If you use a computer for your work, then by all means, don’t stop that. Just don’t do anything that’s not related to work on your computer or devices during the fast.
#2: Tell People
Don’t tell people you’re fasting for spiritual reasons. Just tell them you’re taking a day (or week) off. Set up a vacation-responder for your email. Text people and let them know you won’t be texting the next day. Stuff like that.
Decide what you will do with the extra time. Don’t just waste it. Will you read your Bible? How much? Which books? When? Will you pray? When? What about? Will you take some time for silence and solitude? When? How? Answer these questions before the moment.
Fasting from Food
Many of the same “tips” of tech fasting also apply to this. If your goal is to pray about a burden you’ve had for a while or realize your dependence on God, fasting from food is probably what you should do. Here are some tips on fasting, specifically from food.
What will you do with the extra time? Don’t just play with your phone during lunch time, and don’t cut right to TV at supper time. Spend the extra time seeking Christ in prayer and reading of His Word.
Will you drink only water? Will you go without everything? Will you eat if you’re around other people? Decide these things before you start fasting.
#3: Depend on God
It’s very difficult to fast. You’ll need to stay in touch with God and depend on Him. When you’re tempted to eat, pray that He would give you a distraction. Talk to Him when you feel hungry.
Some More Thoughts
Here are some thoughts that didn’t end up going into the specific tips.
- Take some prayer walks during meal times away from where others are eating.
- Whenever you feel hungry, pray.
- Similarly, when you get the urge to check your iPhone, pray.
- Have a specific request in mind when you fast, like the people in the Old Testament did.
- Choose an entire book of the Bible to read in your extra time, like Acts, a Gospel, or an Epistle.
- Clean your kitchen the day before so that you will not be tempted by anything sitting out.
- I’ve heard it said that it’s easier to fast from supper one day, then eat supper the next day. It might help you.
- You don’t need to fast more than a day, or a meal for that matter.
A Word from Jesus
And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:16-18)
It is written,
“Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)
May God our Father bless you as you use this spiritual discipline to follow Him more closely.