I love having conversations with friends and picking up on similar themes. It’s so fun to get a glimpse into how God is working in and speaking to His people in different parts of the country and world. One common topic I’ve noticed in conversations with friends in 2023 is fasting.
I’m not going to lie; fasting hasn’t always been a consistent part of my Christian life. I used to occasionally fast at the beginning of the year when my church did a corporate fast, but most of the time, I wouldn’t fully commit to it. Fasting required a level of discipline that I hadn’t yet developed and because I didn’t see the benefit of fasting, I chose not to partake.
Choosing to Fast
In 2021, the Lord put it on my heart to start fasting. I was pretty successful for a while, but fell completely off the fasting wagon in 2022. But in 2023, fasting has become a priority in my life again. And I am thrilled to discover that God has been speaking to others about this as well. I have multiple friends in different states, who attend different churches, who are all developing regular rhythms of fasting this year. I don’t think this is by accident.
When I first felt God’s invitation to fast, I began looking up verses about fasting. I knew this topic was in the Bible, but I didn’t realize just how prevalent it is throughout Scripture.
Fasting in the Bible
In Matthew 6, Jesus was teaching and took people through a flurry of topics. He discussed giving, praying, and trusting God to provide. But in the midst of all of this, Jesus brought up fasting.
“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:33 (NIV)
I am so struck by the fact that Jesus said, “when you fast….” This thing I avoided for so long and thought was only reserved for the really religious is actually an essential and regular practice.
These verses remind me that fasting is an invitation to draw nearer to God, laying down something so we can seek the Lord more intentionally. Fasting isn’t a magic wand so that we get what we want, but it’s a way we can experience greater desperation for God and His presence.
3 Pointers for When You Fast
I’m no expert on fasting, but here are a few things to get you started if you want to adopt a regular rhythm of fasting in your life.
1.) Do it Safely
When I think of fasting, the first thing I think of is not eating for days, which sounds absolutely miserable. In reality, fasting is just giving up something we value in order to spend more intentional time with God. We can sacrifice something we need or want and replace it with the Lord.
We have physical bodies that need nutrients, and it’s not practical for some of us to fast food. If you take medications that require food or if it’s not good for you physically to fast food, the good news is that you can still fast something.
Here are some ideas for non-food fasts
- Social media
- Discretionary spending
- Negative words
When we fast, let’s do it safely, caring for our physical bodies well.
2.) Do it Intentionally
Developing a regular rhythm of fasting is teaching me a lot about intentionality. I’m learning that it’s not just about giving up something but about following the Lord’s lead every step of the way.
It can be easy to fast something that we don’t really like or don’t use often. It’s comfortable for me to fast social media because I rarely use it. It’s much harder for me to fast something like caffeine or watching TV (especially during football season).
When we fast, let’s do it intentionally, following God’s instructions in the process.
3.) Do it in Community
Can you fast alone? Yes, of course! But fasting that way can also be more difficult, especially if you’re new to this practice.
It’s wonderful to have that shared experience of fasting with others. Seeking the Lord through fasting with a group can be so encouraging, especially if you regularly share what God is showing or doing in your own life with them.
Fasting can be difficult, but doing it with others can make it easier. They can help hold you accountable, cheer you on, and encourage you to go deeper with God as you give up earthly pleasures.
When we fast, let’s find a group we can fast with, going deeper with God and others.
While fasting is uncomfortable, it’s also a joy to experience. I believe that God is inviting us to develop regular rhythms of fasting in 2023 so that we can go deeper with Him. Let’s ask God what He’s inviting us to fast, how often, and with whom. Then, let’s prayerfully and intentionally follow His instructions.
Join the Conversation
Do you fast? Any tips you would share with us? We’d love to hear from you!
P.S. We are linking up with several Christian link-ups. Find them here.