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Prayer & Fasting Guide
Fasting is the most powerful spiritual discipline of all the Christian disciplines.
Through fasting and prayer, the Holy Spirit can transform your life. Fasting and prayer can also work on
a much grander scale. According to Scripture, personal experience and observation, I am convinced that when
God's people fast with a proper Biblical motive-seeking God's face not His hand-with a broken, repentant, and
contrite spirit, God will hear from heaven and heal our lives, our churches, our communities, our nation and
world. Fasting and prayer can bring about revival - a change in the direction of our nation, the nations of earth
and the fulfillment of the Great Commission. If you do not already know of the power and importance of fasting, here are some
very important facts:
• Fasting was an expected discipline in both the Old and New Testament eras. For example, Moses fasted
at least two recorded forty-day periods. Jesus fasted 40 days and reminded His followers to fast, "when you fast," not if you fast.
• Fasting and prayer can restore the loss of the "first love" for your Lord and result in a more intimate
• Fasting is a biblical way to truly humble yourself in the sight of God (Psalm 35:13; Ezra 8:21). King
David said, "I humble myself through fasting."
• Fasting enables the Holy Spirit to reveal your true spiritual condition, resulting in brokenness,
• The Holy Spirit will quicken the Word of God in your heart and His truth will become more meaningful
• Fasting can transform your prayer life into a richer and more personal experience.
• Fasting can result in a dynamic personal revival in your own life-and make you a channel of revival to
• Fasting and prayer are the only disciplines that fulfill the requirements of
II Chronicles 7:14: "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
• Through your fast, and that of many other believers, God will heal our land.
How to Fast Safely
As you begin your fast, you may hear from concerned loved ones and friends who urge you to protect
your health. And they are right. You should protect your health. But I assure you, if done properly, fasting will not only prove to be a spiritual blessing, but physical blessing as well. By all means, consult your doctor before you begin your fast. But, be aware that many doctors have not been trained in this area and so their understanding is limited. Even so, it would be wise to ask your doctor for a physical exam to make sure you are in good health. You may have a physical problem that would make fasting unwise or dangerous. Also, if you are under any type of medication, make sure you talk to your doctor before changing your regime. Prudence and caution are in order. When you are assured that you are in good health, you are ready to begin your fast.
In spite of the absolute safety and benefits of fasting, there are certain persons who should NEVER fast
without professional supervision. For example:
• Persons who are physically too thin or emaciated
• Persons who are prone to anorexia, bulimia, or other behavioral disorders
• Persons who have tumors, bleeding ulcers, cancer, blood diseases, or who have heart disease
• Those who suffer chronic problems with kidneys, liver, lungs, heart, or other important organs
• Individuals who take insulin for diabetes, or suffer any other blood sugar problem such as
If you have never fasted before, I applaud your present interest! Fasting has been a major emphasis in the
lives of many of the great spiritual leaders throughout history. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist denomination, fasted every Wednesday and Friday and required all of his clergy to do the same. Effective ministers of God from the apostle Paul to Martin Luther to John Calvin made it a continual part of their walks with God.
None of those men had a "formula fast" that was the only "right" way. Fasting is about the condition of the
heart, not the number of days. Each time that I have fasted for forty days, it was because I felt impressed by God to do so.
So, start slowly by fasting for one meal a day, or one day a week, or one week a month. Build up your
spiritual muscles so that you will be prepared in a period of several months to fast for an extended 40 day
period. How Long and What Type of Fast is Right for
The Bible recounts primarily two types of fasts. A partial fast is described in the book of Daniel.
Although the water fast seemed to be the custom of the prophet, there was a three-week period in which he only abstained from "delicacies," meat, and wine (Daniel 10:3).
The two primary types mentioned in the Bible are the "absolute" and "supernatural absolute" fasts.
These are total fasts-no food (solid or liquid) and no water. Paul went on an absolute fast for three days following his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:9). Moses and Elijah engaged in what must be considered a supernatural absolute fast of forty days (Deuteronomy 9:9; I Kings 19:8).
So, I strongly advice you to drink plenty of liquids. Obviously, if God leads you to undertake an
absolute fast, you should obey. If so, be certain, without doubt, that God is leading you. Water-only fasts that last for more than several days need to be undertaken with complete rest and under medical supervision because of the extreme danger of over-toxification, breakdown of vital body tissues, and loss of electrolytes.
I personally recommend and practice water and juice fasting, especially if you are going to fast for an
extended period of time. This type of fast will provide you with more energy than absolute or water-only fasts and still lead you into the humbling experience of denying your desire for solid food that you can chew.
making your final decision about what type of fast is right for you, the best advise I can give you is to follow the
leading of the Holy Spirit. He will guide your heart and mind as to what is best for you. Remember, the most
important consideration in fasting is your motive. Why are you fasting? To seek something personally from
God's hand or to seek His face in worship, praise and thanksgiving? How To Prepare Yourself
Spiritual and physical preparation is vital in sustaining a fast, no matter how long it may be.
In preparation for this special time with God, I strongly urge you to examine your heart, and detect any
unconfessed sin. Scripture records that God always requires His people to repent of their sins before He will hear their prayers. King David said:
Come and hear, all of you who reverence the Lord, and I will tell you what he did for me: For I cried to
him for help, with praises ready on my tongue. He would not have listened if I had not confessed my sins. But he listened! He heard my prayer! He paid attention to it!
Blessed be God who didn't turn away when I was praying, and didn't refuse me his kindness and love.
In your prayers, confess not only obvious sins, but less obvious ones as well. The sins of omission as
well as the sins of commission experiences. These may be experiences leaving your first love for our Lord: worldly-mindedness, self-centeredness, spiritual indifference, and unwillingness to share your faith in Christ with others, not spending sufficient time in God's Word and in prayer, a poor relationship with your spouse, your children, your pastor, or other members of your church. Another great way to prepare for your fast is to practice what I call "Spiritual Breathing." The concept is simple, but it has changed my own life and that of millions of others.
Like physical breathing, Spiritual Breathing is a process of exhaling the impure and inhaling the pure. If
you knowingly sin, breathe spiritually to restore the fullness of God's Holy Spirit in your life. You exhale by
confessing your sins immediately when you become aware of them, and you inhale by inviting the Holy Spirit to
re-take control of your life. As an act of faith, trust Him to empower you. During the fast, spiritual breathing-
constant reliance on the Holy Spirit-will enable you to resist temptation, not only to sin but to abandon your fast.
Although fasting is primarily a spiritual discipline, it begins in the physical realm. You should not fast
fasting for several days, you will find it helpful to begin by eating smaller meals before you abstain altogether. Resist the urge to have that "last big feast" before the fast. Cutting down on your meals a few days before you begin the fast will signal your mind, stomach, and appetite that less food is acceptable.
Some health professionals suggest eating only raw foods for two days before starting a fast. I also
recommend weaning yourself off caffeine and sugar products to ease your initial hunger or discomfort at the
early stages of your fast. Managing Your Schedule
How long you fast, the kind of fast you undertake, and how you adjust your work schedule depends
mostly on your occupation. Persons with office jobs, pastors, or homemakers may find it easier to continue their duties and fast for longer periods of time. In fact, on the basis of my personal experience, worldwide travels and the many letters, which I have received, I am confident that many, many thousands of pastors and lay men and women have already completed a 40-day fast!
Though there are many who engage in strenuous physical labor and have enjoyed their extended fast, if
you are so engaged, you may wish to fast only one or more days of the week, limiting yourselves to partial fasting if you are so engaged. Or you may look to weekends as the prime time to abstain from food. Remember, too, fasting during major holidays is not always a good idea. Families may be inconvenienced, and temptations to eat can be overwhelming.
Reasons for schedule adjustments, especially during an extended fast, are two-fold.
The first is physical. Throughout your fast, you may feel somewhat weaker than normal. During the first few days, you may feel tired and irritable. Lightening your workload and cutting down on strenuous exercise would be a very good idea to maintain your health and your morale.
The second reason is spiritual. Fasting is not just denying yourself food. It is exchanging the needs of
the physical body for those of the spiritual. Long times of prayer and reading God's Word will be very essential
if you are to enter into a more intimate communion with God to maintain your fast to its completion. While
fasting, if you dissipate your energy on numerous errands or busy-work to the neglect of spending special time
with God, you will starve both physically and spiritually. You will find yourself becoming discouraged and
frustrated with your fast instead of being benefited and uplifted and blessed. I don't want that to happen to you. Dealing With the Responses of Family and Friends
Many people are reluctant to tell others that they are fasting so they will avoid the sin of the Pharisees:
fasting just to gain recognition for themselves. I strongly believe that attitude is a result of a wrong interpretation of our Lord's teaching and that it is a trick of the enemy who does not want us to fast, nor to share with your loved ones, neighbors and friends the benefits of fasting.
By isolating ourselves from the support of other Christians, we will be more susceptible to doubts and
negative influences (both human and demonic). We need the prayer shield of our Christian friends and family
members to help us continue when we feel alone and when the enemy tempts us to give up Our Lord as he did Jesus Christ. Eventually, people will notice you are not eating. However, I have found that unless you see them daily, they do not consider your skipped meal much of a concern. If you are asked, nonbelievers may be satisfied by such a brief answer as, "I have other plans for lunch today." Or Christians should be satisfied when you answer that you are fasting today.
If friends and family express concern for your health, ease their fears by telling them that you will stop
fasting the moment you feel you are harming your body or if the Lord leads you to end your fast. Tell them you are fasting under your doctor's care, which I urge you to do if you have any question concerning your health.
There is usually no reason for telling strangers or casual acquaintances that you are fasting. If you do,
they may subject you to a lot of questions that you may not want to answer. But in any case, use your best judgment and the Lord's leading in telling people about your fast.
The more time you spend with God in fellowship, worship, and adoration of Him, and the more you
read and meditate upon His Word, the greater your effectiveness will be in prayer and the more meaningful your
fast will be. So I encourage you to arrange your schedule accordingly! Making Your Spiritual Experience the Best It Can Be
Receiving God's best blessing from a fast requires solid commitment. Arranging special time each day
with God is absolutely crucial in attaining intimate communion with the Father. You must devote yourself to seeking God's face, even (and especially) during those times in which you feel weak, vulnerable, or irritable. Read His Word and pray during what were mealtimes. Meditate on Him when you awake in the night. Sing praises to Him whenever you please. Focus on your Heavenly Father and make every act one of praise and worship. God will enable you to experience His command to "pray without ceasing" as you seek His presence.
As you enter this time of heightened spiritual devotion, be aware that Satan will do everything he can to
pull you away from your prayer and Bible reading time. When you feel the enemy trying to discourage you, immediately go to God in prayer and ask Him to strengthen your resolve in the face of difficulties and temptations.
The enemy makes you a target because he knows that fasting is the most powerful of all Christian
disciplines and that God may have something very special to show you as you wait upon Him and seek His face. Satan does not want you to grow in your faith, and will do anything from making you hungry and grumpy to bringing up trouble in your family or at work to stop you. Make prayer your shield against such attacks.
My major reason for fasting is for personal revival, revival for our nation, for the world and for the
fulfillment of the Great Commission by the end of the year 2000. But praying for our own needs and interceding for others are also important reasons to fast and pray. Bring your personal needs before the Lord, intercede for your loved ones, your friends, your church, your pastor, your community, your nation, and the world. By your prayers of humility, as you fast, you will help the Great Commission be fulfilled.
However, do not become so caught up in praying for yourself and others that you forget about simply
reverencing and praising God. True spiritual fasting focuses on God. Center your total being on Him, your attitudes, your actions, your motives, desires, and words. This can only take place if God and His Holy Spirit are at the center of our attention. Confess your sins as the Holy Spirit brings them to your attention and continue to focus on God and God alone so that your prayers may be powerful and effective.
A renewed closeness with God and a greater sensitivity to spiritual things are usually the results of a
fast. Do not be disappointed if you do not have a "mountaintop experience," as some do. Many people who have successfully completed extended fasts tell of feeling a nearness to God that they have never before known, but others who have honestly sought His face report no particular outward results at all. For others, their fast was physically, emotionally, and spiritually grueling, but they knew they had been called by God to fast, and they completed the fast unto Him as an act of worship; God honored that commitment.
Your motive in fasting must be to glorify God, not to have an emotional experience, and not to attain
personal happiness. When your motives are right, God will honor your seeking heart and bless your time with
Him in a very special way. Maintaining Nutritional Balance
I know the prospect of going without food for an extended period of time may be of concern to some.
But there are ways to ensure that your body is getting the nutrients it needs so you can remain safe and healthy during your fast.
For an extended fast, I recommend water and fruit and vegetable juices. The natural sugars in juices
provide energy, and the taste and strength are motivational to continue your fast. Try to drink fresh juices, if possible. Off-the-shelf juice products are acceptable, as long as they are 100% juice with no sugar or other additives.
If you are beginning a juice fast, there are certain juices you may wish to avoid and certain ones that are
especially beneficial. Because of their acid content, most nutritionists do not advise orange or tomato juice (these are better tolerated if mixed with equal portions of water). The best juices are fresh carrot, grape, celery, apple, cabbage, or beet. They also recommend "green drinks" made from green leafy vegetables because they are excellent "de-toxifiers."
Fruit juices are "cleansers" and are best taken in the morning. Since vegetable juices are "restorers" and
"builders," they are best taken in the afternoon.
I usually dedicate a portion of my 40-day fast to a special liquid formula, which I have found to be
effective over many years. A few recipes and my comments are on this page, as well as a helpful schedule.
The lemon juice adds flavor and vitamin C, the maple syrup provides energy, and the cayenne pepper-an
herb-acts to open small blood vessels which, I believe, helps the body as it cleanses itself of stored toxins. (A word of caution: although I use this formula with no ill effects, cayenne pepper could cause severe physical reactions in persons with a specific allergy to this herb.)
My favorite juice is a mixture of 100% pure white grape juice and peach juice. The juice is available in
frozen cans under the Welch label. Most knowledgeable nutritionists recommend:
• Watermelon-just put it in the blender without adding water.
• Green juice-blend celery, romaine lettuce, and carrots in equal proportions. (Vegetable juices like this
one are important, for they supply the electrolytes necessary for proper heart function!) Some nutritionists recommend warm broth, especially if you live in a colder climate. You may find their
• Boil sliced potatoes, carrots, and celery in water. Do not add salt
After about a half-hour, drain off the water and drink.
• Gently boil three carrots, two stalks of celery, one turnip, two beats, a half head of cabbage, a quarter of
a bunch of parsley, a quarter of an onion, and a half clove of garlic Drain off the broth and drink up to two or three times daily.
What Physical Effects to Expect
Although fasting can be an indescribable blessing, it is not always easy for everyone. In this time of
discipline, self-sacrifice and reflection, do not be surprised if you experience mental and physical discomforts.
To begin, you may experience some inner conflict when you deny yourself the pleasure of eating
delicious food. Any sort of fast may sometimes leave you feeling impatient and irritable. During a 3-day fast, this struggle can intensify toward the end of the second day. That seems to be a favorite time for the "self" to rise up and say, "This is as far as I want to go. I have done enough."
These are greatest usually during the first
Help eliminate hunger pangs and also aids in cleansing the body. Several
capsules can be taken throughout the day with plenty of water.
Silymarin tablets may also be helpful, for they are believed to protect and
digestive tract (which remains about three
Coldness, bad breath and heightened body After the first two weeks of an extended fast, many of these symptoms odor, changes in elimination (constipation subside. Continuing aches in a certain area of the body usually means or diarrhea), light-headedness, changes in
elimination of fatty tissue is going on in that area, which is not harmful.
sleeping and dreaming patterns, aches and However, any extensive pain should be examined immediately.
YOU SHOULD STOP FASTING IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING SEVERE
A white-coated tongue at the beginning of PAIN OR SWELLING. a fast may be a part of the body's pattern of throwing off toxins. Also expect to go the the bathroom often (you will be drinking lots of water!)
Headaches or stomachaches may be a result Eliminating those items from your diet prior to fasting is the best way to avoid of salt, sugar, or caffeine withdrawal.
Lower back pain may indicate that you are dehydrating
Stop for a second or two, then recover. Move slowly. (A word of caution:
change in position, such as rising suddenly these conditions may be symptoms of other problems requiring medical from a chair.
Take one teaspoon of psyllium seed powder morning and evening. Mixed in lukewarm water, it becomes like Jell-O. This powder will hasten the
elimination of toxins from your colon and help to prevent headaches and dizziness for most healthy people. Alfalfa tablets can help control bad breath and cleanse the system. Two tablets at a time can be taken several times a day.
In my desire to be absolutely faithful to my first 40-day fast, I stopped taking my usual vitamins and
minerals. However during subsequent fasts, I have felt strongly impressed to continue my vitamin and herbal therapy and also using psyllium. I do this to keep my "temple" healthy while continuing to deny myself the pleasure of eating solid food.
During your fast, you may have your struggles, discomforts, spiritual victories, and failures. In the
morning you may feel like you are on top of the world, but by evening you may be wrestling with the flesh-sorely tempted to raid the refrigerator and counting how many more days are left in your fast. This is especially true if you are new at fasting. To counteract temptations like these, take extra time with the Lord to spend with God. Step outside for fresh air and a moderate walk of a mile or two, and talk to the Lord as you walk along. And in the process always keep on sipping water or juice frequently during your waking hours.
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