Prayer & Fasting Myth Busters by Jude Gotrich
"Want to grab a bite to eat?"
"Let's talk over a cup of coffee."
"We will discuss it during our working lunch."
"All are welcome to the covered dish supper this evening...."
Certainly our lives are not complete without food. Many times it is food that draws us to action. We meet people over a meal. We get closer to family members when we make a point of eating together. We let our guard down when we ask someone to share a meal with us because it is for the purpose of building relationships and, let's face it, to enjoy the taste of good food, filling our stomachs to satisfaction and the bonus is the fellowship. Holiday celebrations are around special menu items. Jesus often used this tactic of sharing food, developing his closest relationships. Food is not only fuel but it is a feast, a celebration. The thought of food is enticing and certain foods are even called "comfort" food as we are always satisfied with comfortable memories around those dishes.
Clearly food is something we need. Most of us are fortunate enough to eat at least 3 meals a day (some more than 3!?!). Food is our fuel to balance the operation of our body. God created us with an appetite for food and that is called hunger. All these things are good so why would we choose to go without food? Why fast?
Some of the reasons people fast are not for spiritual renewal. Many fad diets include fasting. Some medical testing requires fasting for accurate readings. Cleansing fasts have been fashionable after over indulgent eating habits and sometimes have even led to eating disorders. These are clearly not spiritual fasts talked about in scripture as the subject of these fasts has been self centered and not focused on the Triune God.
Some people have feared fasting because they cannot imagine going without food. We have been lured into a ‘feel good religion' and often do not wish to be bothered with hunger. But we cannot deny the fact that fasting is a biblical practice and certainly great lessons are to be learned from this spiritual discipline. It is this spiritual curiosity of fasting that I wish to address.
Now, if a person has never fasted before, it is encouraged to get a release from your medical professional for safe and responsible fasting practices, particularly if you are diabetic. Fasting is a physical discipline and not everyone should fast. Once you have been given the ‘all clear' to proceed, it is important that you have an understanding of what you are about to engage.
There were also fasts that were not pleasing to God (Matthew 6:16) and some of the early fathers of the church fell into Gnostic tendencies, declaring food as evil and only "spiritual" is good. These, too, were myths about fasting.
How do you go about a spiritual fast pleasing to God? Plan your fast. Prayerfully consider what kind of fast to which you are called. You may fast a meal or a day's worth of meals. You may do a partial fast by using juices or subtracting certain foods from your menu for a period of time. Hard fasts like Christ did in the wilderness are never recommended as a start. God knows the desire of your heart, as nothing is hidden from Him, and the focus of the fast is to reestablish contact with Him. The fast is simply a tool that is to be used to glorify God and designed for His purpose.
Once you have designated your time and type of fast, have a biblical course of action. Place scripture before you that will satisfy the hunger and thirst in your soul for God and plan your study of the Word. Scripture will direct your thoughts, inform your prayers and reveal things to you not only about God but about yourself.
Also, do not be caught unaware. You should expect resistance, interference and opposition. Prayer is a battlefield and any saint of God will tell you that fact. The enemy does not want you to pray. He does not want you to be satisfied in your soul with the fatness of God. But you are attempting to advance your spiritual journey and that excites all of heaven! And guess Who is the Lord of hosts and the Warrior in the heavenly realms? Christ the King of Glory. So be smart and fill your time with the truths of God's victorious nature and write them out in front of you. Christ says to you," Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world." (John 16:33b NLT)
For further suggestions and information go to the prayer and fasting website