“And the Lord utters His voice before His army, for His host is very great, and [they are] strong and powerful who execute [God’s] word. For the day of the Lord is great and very terrible, and who can endure it?” (Joel 2:11 NIV)
Fasting is a time of restraint and humility. Penitence. Power. Forgiveness. Secret prayers and miracle rewards [brought out into the open]. Self reflection. Transparency. A day of turning back to God with all our heart and sorrow for the things we did. Removing every hinderance until all broken fellowship in our life is restored.
Anything less is a diet (See Joel 2:12-15).
This year we are doing a 40 day fast letting people choose what they will fast from.
In fasting and prayer, we are turning down the things that satisfy us to pursue the things that satisfy God (at that dedicated time).
Below are at least 5 types of fasts in Scripture:
1. A Corporate Fast
A time of group fasting is powerful on both a personal and corporate level. In Ezra 8:21-23, we see an example of this:
“There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions. I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him. ” So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.” (Ezra 8:21-23 NIV)
When two or three gather in His name there is great power. (Matthew 18:20)
Corporate fasting can be a variation of any of the different types of fasting listed below:
One meal a day
2. A Complete Fast
A regular fast is when you abstain from all food and drink except for water (Matthew 4:2). The duration of a complete fast could range from part of a day to an entire day for the entire fast. This was the most common in the scripture.
(FYI-If 40 days seems like an impossible amount of time to survive without food and water, that’s because without divine intervention, it is. Humans can only last about three days without water. Only Moses and Jesus did a complete, supernatural fast from water or food, so we are not endorsing this. Only God can).
3. A Partial Fast
While the complete fast abstains from all food for a time, a partial fast abstains from certain foods or drinks for the time. A partial fast can also vary in duration from part of a day to the entire fast.
(NOTE: In Daniel, we see he and his friends deprived themselves of “pleasant food,” meat, and wine for three weeks while he sought God in prayer. It involved a 21 day food intake period, devoid of animal products and preservatives, and inclusive of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.)
4. A Non-Food Fast
If you have a medical condition and are concerned about fasting, a non-food fast may be a safe way to participate in a fast (and spiritually discipline yourself)
In Scripture, there are several examples of non-food fasts:
* Oils/Moisturizers/Perfumes: (Daniel 10:3)
* Sex (1 Corinthians 7:5; Exodus 19:15)
* Unholy things such as foods, items, people, places, practices, etc. – (Joshua 3:5)
5. An Isolation Fast
While Jesus does not give us a blueprint of things to abstain from during a fast, He does show us how important isolation is for fasting. Jesus often withdrew from His disciples to spend time alone with God (Luke 5:16).
Spending time with God may be challenging in the tyranny of life. But in modern times, time alone with God may look like:
* No Internet
* No radio
* No television
* No social media
* No cell phone.
Just time alone with Him. By yourself. In the same spot, with no distractions. To hear God’s voice.
This type of fasting takes practice, planning, and great intentionality (Driving to work with the radio off, taking a break from social media or television for a time, etc.)
Because every person is different, the things we fast from will differ. The point is not to get everyone to fast “from” the same thing, but to fast “about” the same thing (Hope OC, family salvation, revival in us, marriage, homes, etc.)
DISCLAIMER: If you have a medical condition, talk to your doctor before embarking on a food or beverage fast of any time. This applies to those who, for example, have diabetes, take medications, and are pregnant.