The contents of this article are adapted from Lou Engle’s teachings.
As we prepare for 21-Days of Drawing Near, we must prepare ourselves adequately so that the fast can honour God and fulfill its purpose. Remember that a fast is not designed to be conquered; instead, it’s designed to conquer you. It’s an intentional, relational message that we’re sending to God that we are seeking His face and presence — a reality we desire more than anything else in this world.
Here are some points to help and encourage you.
1. Seek advice and permission before the fast, especially if you decide to do a Complete Fast or an intense Partial or Selective Fast. Seek medical advice before the fast, especially if you have any existing medical concerns or conditions. If you are under 18 years of age, discuss your desire to fast with your parents and get their permission because spiritual covering, submission and unity are important factors when fasting. Remember, fasting is an attitude of the heart!
2. Fast and pray in order to humble yourself and purify your worship. In fasting we are not trying to get something from God and “twist His arm”, but rather seeking to realign our hearts' affections with His. We are subduing the flesh and setting our minds on the Spirit (Gal. 5:16ff). In fasting we can more readily say, "We love you Lord, more than anything in the world." Lust of any kind is perverted worship, but fasting enables us to cleanse the sanctuary of our hearts from every other rival.
3. Don't boast about your fast. Let people know you won't be eating, if you need to (Matthew 6:16-18).
4. Do the fast as a family. Two are better than one! We encourage parents and kids to consider fasting together. Several generations fasting together has a powerful impact (Luke 1:17)
5. Have a clear target for prayer focus. Without a vision (a clear, prophetic prayer goal) the people perish. Make sure you familiarise yourself with our church’s prayer focus during this time. Also, make sure you write down your personal vision for this fast, so you can run with it (Habakkuk 2:2).
6. Commit to a type of fast. You can fast in many different ways. You may want to complete a Daniel fast (Selective Fast), a media fast (Soul-Cleansing Fast), skip a meal or avoid a particular type of food (Partial Fast). Pray and ask God what He will give you faith and endurance for during this fast. He is the author and finisher of your faith and faith is what makes it possible to please Him. These are some of the fasts that you can do:
A Daniel fast, with vegetables and water, is good for those carrying a heavy workload (like moms and students). Fasting "meats and sweets" allows you to get protein from other food sources.
A fruit or vegetable juice fast allows you to enter into fasting but still gives enough energy to function. Use juice and protein drinks to sustain you, in consideration of your health and metabolism. If you have sugar sensitivities or problems, consult you physician before attempting this fast.
A media fast is abstaining from the use of electronic devices (TV, internet, etc) for spiritual purposes. Replacing the time one spends on media devices for prayer and Bible-reading are the benefits of this fast. We highly recommend that you use this type of fast to wisely reintroduce media into your life in healthy ways and doses.
7. Prepare physically. If you are entering into a Complete Fast or an intense Partial/Selective Fast, we recommmend that you start to limit your intake of food to fruit and vegetables about 2-3 days before the fast. Fruit is a natural cleanser and easy to digest. Try to stop drinking coffee before the fast. Drink lots of water to help your body detoxify. Prepare yourself for mental discomforts such as impatience, crankiness and anxiety. Expect physical discomforts. You may experience dizziness, headaches and different kinds of pains. The headaches are not a sign to stop fasting. Your body is working to cleanse itself of impurities.
8. Take time to pray and read the Word. This may seem obvious, but busy-ness and distractions can keep you from devotions and worship. Reading books with testimonies of victories gained through fasting will encourage you. Head over to Koorong or Amazon and find a book that will build you up spiritually.
10. Prepare for opposition. On the day of your fast you can bet donuts will be at the office or in class. Someone will suddenly be inspired to cook your favourite meals. Press through. Many times, you may feel more tension build at home. Satan tempted Jesus on the fast, and we must expect the same. Discouragement may come in like a flood, but recognize the source and take your stand on the victory of Christ.
11. If you fail, don't give in to condemnation. The "to fast or not to fast" dilemma can be a major tool of the enemy. Even though you may fail several times, God always extends grace.
12. Feel free to rest a lot and continue to exercise with supervision.
13. Breakthroughs often come after a fast, not during it. Do not listen to the lie that nothing is happening. Every fast done in faith will be rewarded.
14. Break the fast slowly, over several days with fruit juice or light soups, especially after an intense fast. On a light juice fast or a water fast your digestive system shuts down. This can be dangerous if you eat too much too soon. Break the fast with several days of diluted, non-acidic juice, then regular juice, followed by fruit and vegetables. Consult with your GP to equip yourself.