Helpful Steps to a Successful Fast
Here are some simple steps to help you start and finish your fast well. This is not a perfect list, it is simply a collection of Biblical foundations, personal experience, and insight from trusted pastors and leaders. Enjoy and feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Step 1: Set the Objective
Before starting a time of fasting it is important to ask yourself “why” are you fasting? Are you looking for spiritual renewal, guidance, healing, resolution of problems and difficult situations? We encourage everyone to ask the Holy Spirit for clarity and guidance as you begin your fast. Banner Church will be sharing some simple directions as the fast continues, but we highly encourage everyone to have an objective to enable you to pray more specifically and strategically.
Through fasting and prayer we humble ourselves before God so the Holy Spirit will stir our souls, awaken our churches, and heal our land according to 2 Chronicles 7:14. Make this a priority in your fasting.
Step 2: Make a Commitment
Praying and Fasting for 21 days is a commitment, so take time to pray about what kind of fast you will be committing to for the next 3 weeks. Jesus implied that all of His followers should fast (Matthew 6:16-18; 9:14,15) For Him it was a matter of when believers would fast, not if they would do it. Before you fast, decide the following up front:
What type of fast is God leading you to undertake?
What physical or social activities will you restrict or need to alter due to the fast?
How much time each day will you intentionally devote to prayer and the reading of God’s Word?
Making these commitments ahead of time is crucial to sustaining your fast, as well as providing the greatest opportunity to draw nearer to God in His presence.
Step 3: Prepare Your Heart
As you begin this fast it is important to prepare your heart in two ways: through repentance and through openness. Is there any unconfessed sin in your heart that would hinder your prayers? At the same time, are you willing to have an open heart to fully receive what God is speaking to you? Be willing to receive what God is speaking to you. Take time to surrender your full heart to God before beginning this fast.
Here are some things you can do to prepare your heart:
- Ask God to reveal to you any unconfessed sin.
- Confess every sin that the Holy Spirit calls to your remembrance and accept God’s forgiveness (1 John 1:9).
- Seek forgiveness from all whom you have offended, and forgive all who have hurt you (Mark 11:25; Luke 11:4; 17:3,4).
- Make restitution as the Holy Spirit leads you.
- Ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit according to His command in Ephesians 5:18 and His promise in 1 John 5:14,15.
- Surrender your life fully to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Master; refuse to obey your worldly nature (Romans 12:1,2).
- Meditate on the attributes of God, His love, sovereignty, power, wisdom, faithfulness, grace, compassion, and others (Psalm 48:9,10; 103:1-8, 11-13).
- Begin your time of fasting and prayer with an expectant heart (Hebrews 11:6).
- Do not underestimate spiritual opposition. Satan sometimes intensifies the natural battle between body and spirit (Galatians 5:16,17).
Step 4: Prepare Your Body
Your physical preparation will depend on what kind of fast you are committing to. Those undertaking a food-related fast are encouraged to take reasonable precautions. Consult your physician first, especially if you take prescription medication or have a chronic ailment. Some persons should never undertake a physical fast without professional supervision.
If you chose a fast like the Daniel fast (fruits and vegetables) if will most likely affect your physical body and lead to a cleansing of your system. There may be days that you feel sick as your body detoxes. The good news is that if you stay strong to your commitment you will make it! There are many things that we consume on a daily basis, that when removed can affect our bodies. That is why we recommend that you:
Avoid binging on any food items. For example, don’t eat a huge steak dinner in preparation for a Daniel fast. It will only make the dramatic change more difficult.
Take a few days to dial back your intake of things like caffeine or high-sugar drinks/foods.
Take note of how the fast might affect any current exercise regiments you have.
Step 5: Create a Schedule
The goal of the fast is a personal encounter with a Living God, so plan where and when you will spend time seeking him in prayer and the Word. The temptation in a fast is to fill our time with distractions to keep us from feeling hungry, but remember that the point of this fast is communion with God not simply surviving a change in diet or habits.
- Begin your day in praise and worship. Read and meditate on God’s Word.
- Invite the Holy Spirit to work in you to will and to do His good pleasure according to Philippians 2:13.
- Invite God to use you. Ask Him to show you how to influence your world, your family, your church, your community, your country, and beyond.
- Pray for His vision for your life and empowerment to do His will.
- Return to prayer and God’s Word.
- Take a short prayer walk.
- Spend time in intercessory prayer for your community, the unreached millions, for your family or special needs.
- Get alone for an unhurried time of “seeking His face.”
- If others are fasting with you, meet together for prayer.
- Avoid television or any other distraction that may dampen your spiritual focus
Step 6: End Your Fast Gradually
At the end of your fast their will be a temptation to binge on whatever you have abstained from. Take it slow. If you have done a vegetable fast 21 days we encourage you to avoid introducing a huge quantity of raw meat or cheese into your diet at once (trust us, the results will be rough).
If you have fasted television or social media then try to avoid binge watching the newest season of the show that just came out or spending countless hours scrolling. Again, the goal of the fast is communion with God not surviving a nature of binging and purging.
Step 7: Expect Real Results
Christ tells us that if we seek him, he will reveal himself to us. If you make a commitment for these 21 days; if you humble yourself and seek God’s face; if you intentionally meditate on the Word of God, you will experience a deeper understanding and awareness of His presence.
Go into the fast expecting that God will move in your life and the life of this church. We believe that through this fast the Lord will give you new and fresh spiritual insights. He will strengthen your faith and confidence in Him. He will refresh you spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Above all, we believe that God will commune with you and will answer the prayers and cries of your heart.
A fast is not a spiritual cure-all or simple fix. This fast is a committed time of surrender and seeking, and we believe that through this time you will have a personal encounter with the Living God.
Some content adapted from "7 Steps to Successful Fasting" by Dr. Bill Bright