It’s a few hours into the 40 Hours of Prayer and Fasting, so I thought it might be helpful to post a few tips. Many of you are attempting fasting for the first time and 40 hours seems like an eternity. Practical tips can help you make it through, so without further ramble, here are the tips.
“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? (Isaiah 58:6-7 ESV)
- Don’t exercise. Some of you are avid runners, some of you are weight lifters; for during these 40 hours curb your enthusiasm for exercise. Exercise will cause your body to need more energy, hence you will be hungry. If you have a job that is physically challenging and you can’t avoid burning lots of calories, my suggestion is water, water, water! Most of us have enough fat reserves to cover our energy needs for 40 hours, so keep the water coming to keep a full sensation in your stomach.
- Expect opposition. Have you ever been somewhere around someone who insists that you eat? Or perhaps you’re more of a person who eats under stress. No matter what, something is going to happen (if it already hasn’t) that will tempt you to eat. Expect it and prepare yourself for it. One of the challenges of fasting is to rely on the strength of the Holy Spirit to sustain you in moments of weakness. If you start feeling stressed physically or emotionally (or both) take a moment to pray quietly, and if you’re able, pick up your Bible and read through Psalm 23 (or whichever one is helpful in the moment).
- Wage war. This is kind of like number 2, but different. Number two was about expecting the unexpected opposition. What I mean here is by fasting you have engaged in an intentional fight. When you choose to fast, you choose to increase the spiritual warfare in your life by going on the offensive. Drawing close to God, by default means you are, through Christ, shedding idols, loosing chains, and choosing freedom over bondage. In a manner of speaking, fasting is moving from a walk to a sprint. You don’t sprint forever, but while you do clearing the obstacles in your path that might cause you to trip and stumble is a must.
- Be humble. Fasting is not about your ability to endure, but about Jesus’ ability to deliver. Keep your perspective clear and your focus in the right place. If you find yourself thinking more about what you’re going to eat when the fast is over, you’ve shifted the focus onto yourself and away from Christ. No one ever fasted for long periods by thinking about themselves the whole time. Keep Christ as your central focus and serve others during your fast like Christ has served you.
- Stay hydrated. Simple really. Fasting from water is a no, no. It’s a spiritual journey, not a death march.
- Pray earnestly. Might seem like a given, but I’ve went through fasts before where I was so distracted by this, that, and the other things that I seldom prayed. I know I’m not alone when I say this. For me, keeping busy is a great way to not eat. I can bury myself in work, in projects, basically any task that lets me zoom in with my laser-like man focus, and food will be the last thing on my mind. Don’t busy yourself with things, instead busy yourself with prayer. If you’re working during the fast, intentionally incorporate prayer into your routines.
That’s all I’ve got. Remember that fasting is not about the fast itself. Fasting that God delights in is where he is given complete control to rule in your body. Whatever desires begin to raise their heads, bring them under submission to Christ. We’re a little over six hours in, so only 34 hours remain. I hope this is helpful to you. My hope is that God multiplies his grace toward you while you’re sprinting!