What is Fasting? And why is it so important to believers? Fasting refers to refraining from either food, drink, or both at your own will for a definite time. It could be done partially for some particular food or as total abstention, in which no food or liquid is consumed for one or more days.
Fasting—going without food in order to spend time in prayer—is noble and difficult. It gives us time to pray, teaches self-discipline, reminds us that we can live with a lot less, and helps us appreciate God's gifts. The health benefits of fasting include detoxification, faster healing, radiant skin, and secretion of growth and anti-aging hormones. It is also good for the digestive system as it boosts metabolism, lowers cholesterol levels, and reduces appetite, thereby managing weight and obesity. It provides relief from epilepsy, arthritis, and other diseases.
The Bible describes three main forms of fasting. The normal fast involves the total abstinence of food. Luke 4:2 reveals that Jesus “ate nothing”; afterwards “He was hungry.” Jesus abstained from food but not from water.
In Acts 9:9 we read of an absolute fast where for three days Paul “did not eat or drink” (HCSB). The abstinence from both food and water seems to have lasted no more than three days (Ezra 10:6; Esther 4:16). This fast is recommended when the goal is to overcome a habit, addiction or break the bondage of a soul tie.
The partial fast in Dan. 10:3 emphasizes the restriction of diet rather than complete abstinence. The context implies that there were physical benefits resulting from this partial fast. However, this verse indicates that there was a revelation given to Daniel as a result of this time of fasting.
Fasting is the laying aside of food for a period of time when the believer is seeking to know God in a deeper experience. It is to be done as an act before God in the privacy of one’s own pursuit of God (Exod. 34:28; 1 Sam. 7:6; 1 Kings 19:8; Matt. 6:17).
Fasting is to be done with the object of seeking to know God in a deeper experience (Isa. 58; Zech. 7:5). Fasting relates to a time of confession (Ps. 69:10). Fasting can be a time of seeking a deeper prayer experience and drawing near to God in prevailing prayer (Ezra 8:23; Joel 2:12). The early church often fasted in seeking God’s will for leadership in the local church (Acts 13:2). When the early church wanted to know the mind of God, there was a time of prayer and fasting.
In addition, I would like to share with you a method of fasting that I've found to be helpful and physically beneficial.
Abstain from sugars, bread and meat at least 2 days before fasting. This will allow your digestive system time to adjust to the change of diet.
Implement intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting. It does not say anything about which foods to eat, but rather when you should eat them. There are several different intermittent fasting methods, all of which split the day or week into eating periods and fasting periods. Intermittent fasting is not new to the church. Some reformations have national fast days that range from two to three days a week.
Always end your fast the same way you started it. Gradually ease back into your normal diet. (Do not run out and gorge yourself on burgers and fries.)
Work towards a clean diet. Eat alkaline foods and stay away from starches as much as possible.
Pastor Joseph Williams
C. Robert Marsh
Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary.