How to Begin: Start with a clear goal. Be specific. Why are you fasting? Do you need direction, healing, restoration of marriage or family issues? Are you facing financial difficulties? Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance. Pray daily and read the Bible.
Preparing Spiritually: Confess your sins to God. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal areas of weakness. Forgive all who have offended you and ask forgiveness from those you may have offended (Mark 11:25; Luke 11:4; 17:3-4). Surrender your life fully to Jesus Christ and reject the worldly desires that try to hinder you (Romans 12:1-2).
Deciding What to Fast: The type of fasting you choose is up to you. You could go on a full fast in which you only drink liquids, or you may desire to fast like Daniel, who abstained from sweets and meats, and the only liquid he drank was water. Remember to replace that time with prayer and Bible study.
Deciding How Long: You may fast as long as you like. Most can easily fast from one to three days, but you may feel the grace to go longer, even as much as 21 to 40 days. Use wisdom and pray for guidance. Beginners are advised to start slow.
What to Expect: When you fast your body detoxifies, eliminating toxins from your system. This can cause mild discomfort such as headaches and irritability during withdrawal from caffeine and sugars. And naturally, you will have hunger pains. Limit your activity and exercise moderately. Take time to rest. Fasting brings about miraculous results. You are following Jesus’ example when you fast. Spend time listening to praise and worship. Pray as often as you can throughout the day. Get away from the normal distractions as much as possible and keep your heart and mind set on seeking God’s face.
How to End: Don’t overeat when the time comes to end your fast. Begin eating solid food gradually; eat small portions or snacks.
Things to Consider
The 21-Day Fast is the most popular, primarily because that is the model set out by Daniel in Chapter 10:2, 3 – “In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.”
Many will start their 21-Day Fast on Monday, January 9th, which is the first Sunday of the year. Still others will commit to a shorter period of spiritual fasting, but still give a “first fruits offering” of themselves to the Lord by beginning the New Year with prayer and fasting.
Second, you might want to get rid of or at least put away foods that are tempting. Kind of like the biblical accounts of Jewish women as they prepared for the Passover by cleaning their houses from top to bottom and removed all yeast from their homes. Many Jews engage in this same practice today when they prepare for the Passover.
Of course, you also want to prepare your heart for the 21-Day Fast. Seek the Lord’s guidance as you get ready to start the fast. Are there issues in your life that you need to address? Are their needs in your family or ministry that can use special attention? Are you seeking healing? Do you feel oppressed by financial bandages? These last few days of the year are an excellent time to search your heart, open yourself to the Lord, and allow Him to lead you into your personal 21-Day Fast.
Consider Your Schedule
While a fast, by nature, is inconvenient, it should be an inconvenience to you—not to those around you. You should not obligate your family to skip Christmas dinner because of your fast. This takes away the personal nature of fasting.
Tell Only the People You Must
Your spouse will need to know you are fasting. Beyond that, you would be better off not telling many people that you are fasting. Most won’t understand. Fasting can also become a source of pride and boasting as you spread the news to more and more people.
Telling your pastor can be a help both to you and to him. It will be an encouragement for him to pray more specifically for you during this time. And you will know that someone is praying for your spiritual and physical well being.
Wean Yourself Off Caffeine
Several days before your fast begins, you should start weaning yourself off caffeine. Some people experience unbearable headaches 2 to 3 days after ceasing to drink caffeinated products. During your fast you will already be acutely aware of your stomach. There is no need to add a second discomfort if it can be avoided.
Disconnecting from TV, radio, newspapers and the Internet can help you stay focused on your purpose for fasting. You will be less tempted by the constant bombardment of advertising as you become physically and emotionally challenged. Avoiding media will give you more time to focus on the Lord and His Word. (THE INFLUENCE OF FACEBOOK AND OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA)
Laziness is a problem that the Bible speaks against (TIME STEWARDSHIP) but most of us today suffer from being too busy and not getting the rest we need. If you disconnect from the media and other people you will have extra time allowing you to get a full night’s sleep. During your fast you will be forced to slow down since you won’t be needing long meal breaks. A fast will reveal to you that you have too many activities and busyness in your day-to-day routine.
Be Still and Focus on God
Fasting is a time to study God’s Word, meditate and pray. To help with this, plan a specific Bible passage or topic you want to study during your fast. Look for verses you want to memorize and meditate upon. Fasting by Jesus and the disciples was always accompanied by prayer. Spend time talking to God and allowing Him to reveal Himself to you in His Word.
Your Personal Guide to Fasting and Prayer How to Maintain Nutritional Balance and Health from Beginning to End By Dr. Bill Bright
I know the prospect of going without food for an extended period of time may be of concern to some. But there are ways to ensure that your body is getting the nutrients it needs so you can remain safe and healthy during your fast.
For an extended fast, I recommend water and fruit and vegetable juices. The natural sugars in juices provide energy, and the taste and strength are motivational to continue your fast. Try to drink fresh juices, if possible. Off-the-shelf juice products are acceptable, as long as they are 100% juice with no sugar or other additives.
If you are beginning a juice fast, there are certain juices you may wish to avoid and certain ones that are especially beneficial. Because of their acid content, most nutritionists do not advise orange or tomato juice (these are better tolerated if mixed with equal portions of water). The best juices are fresh carrot, grape, celery, apple, cabbage, or beet. They also recommend “green drinks” made from green leafy
vegetables because they are excellent “de-toxifiers.”
Fruit juices are “cleansers” and are best taken in the morning. Since vegetable juices are “restorers” and “builders,” they are best taken in the afternoon.
I usually dedicate a portion of my 40-day fast to a special liquid formula, which I have found to be effective over many years. A few recipes and my comments are on this page, as well as a helpful schedule.
One gallon distilled water1-1/2 cup lemon juice3/4-cup pure maple syrup1/4-teaspoon cayenne pepper.
The lemon juice adds flavor and vitamin C, the maple syrup provides energy, and the cayenne pepper — an herb — acts to open small blood vessels which, I believe, helps the body as it cleanses itself of stored toxins. (A word of caution: although I use this formula with no ill effects, cayenne pepper could cause severe physical reactions in persons with a specific allergy to this herb.) My favorite juice is a mixture of 100% pure white grape juice and peach juice. The juice is available in frozen cans under the Welch label. Most knowledgeable nutritionists
Watermelon — just put it in the blender without adding water fresh apple juice