If you are one of those people who sense God has more for your life, take the first step and believe for more of Him. Start the year off right and discover the rewards of putting God first. Begin the New year with a fast.
Fasting is a discipline that helps to shift our priorities. It puts Him first and allows us to hear His plan, receive His direction and His blessings. If you want success in your life, in your marriage, in your work—putting God first is the key.
Fasting is probably one of the most neglected spiritual admonitions. I know when I was first introduced to it, it was hard finding information about doing it. Things like how I was supposed to feel, why I was supposed to do it, how my body would change, etc. That is why I am wanting to write on this topic as well as document my progress through it.
When I first had been introduced to fasting, I never took it seriously. I said I would abstain from some of my favorite things and then of course fail at that. I would use the excuse that I was pregnant or nursing and could not “give up” eating a meal or foods. That was all excuses.
I’m pregnant or nursing, I surely can’t fast….
I have learned that you can fast while nursing and still provide enough milk for your baby. You probably will drink more water while on you fast, because you will be more aware of drinking liquids. You can also fast while pregnant, not a complete fast where you give up all foods, but you can surely give up most of the “fillers” in your diet. Did you know that most people while pregnant or nursing WAY overeat???? Did you know that most Americans WAY overeat?? We are so accustomed to eating so much food that when approached to eat less, we use excuses as to why we cannot. We need to be evaluating our diets and seeing which types of our foods we can eliminate. You can put yourself on a Whole Foods approach while pregnant or nursing and still be within a “fasting approach” plus at the same time giving your baby the nutrients he/she REALLY needs.
Fast for health reasons….
Last year, when I started my weight loss journey, it began with a fast. I realized that for health and mental reasons, I needed to rid myself of filling my body with this garbage food. I had to take a few days and just let all the toxins rid of my body. To some it seems impossible to do, but take it from a woman who loves food, it can be done.
What happens to your body…….
Going on a fast allows the body to rest, detoxify, and to heal. It is a great way to kick start your mind into better eating habits and help rid your body of deadly toxins that are lurking inside of you. During fasting the body moves into the same kind of detoxification cycle that it normally enters during sleep. It uses its energy during a fast, not for digesting food, but for cleansing the body of accumulated toxins and healing any parts of it that are ill. As a fast progresses the body will consume everything that it can that is not essential to bodily functioning . This can include bacteria, viruses, fibroid tumors, waste products in the blood, any build up around the joints, and stored fat.
While your body is 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. Up until I started fasting, it was something I rarely felt going to bed. I then realized that most of the world will goto bed hungry and feel like this. Why was I stuffing myself with food that was costing money and causing harm to my body? It just didn’t make sense. You will also notice coldness, bad breath and heightened body odor, changes in elimination (constipation or diarrhea), light-headedness, changes in sleeping and dreaming patterns, aches and pains. Most of these are very normal, a body’s way to adjust to eliminating toxins from body.
What can you do to help…..
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 should I 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. I like to write all my “requests” out so that I can refer back to them during my prayer times.
How can I prepare 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. Surrender your life fully to Jesus Christ and reject the worldly desires that try to hinder you.
And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.
And forgive us our sins,
For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Which fast is right for me……
If you have never fasted before, I applaud your present interest! Fasting has been a major emphasis in the lives of many of the great spiritual leaders throughout history. Jesus fasted for 40 days before starting his ministry. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist denomination, fasted every Wednesday and Friday and required all of his clergy to do the same. Effective ministers of God from the apostle Paul to Martin Luther to John Calvin made it a continual part of their walks with God.
No one has a perfect formula for fasting the right way. Fasting is about a condition of your heart. It does not matter if you fast for 1 day or 40 days—–yes it can be done. I never believed it, I didn’t think it was possible to live on water alone for 40 days, until I had dear friends of mine complete that fast and do so effectively. God will impress it upon you what He wants you to do.
I suggest starting slowly. Fast for one meal a day. I would do this often while nursing. I reminded myself to drink water during that meal. I realized that I was eating an abundance of calories, so my body was not “missing out.” But to give up that one meal when I would of normally enjoyed it, was “giving up” so that I could think about something other than my gluttony.
The Bible describes two types of fasts. A partial fast is described in the book of Daniel. Otherwise known as the “Daniel fast.” The Daniel Fast is a plant-based eating plan with the only beverage being water.
When the bodies that God designed and created are fed the good quality foods He created especially for it improvements in health result. The high fiber in the fruit, vegetables and whole grains cleanses the body and improves digestion. It’s not uncommon for cholesterol levels to drop, for blood sugar levels to balance, for weight to be lost and for a general feeling of well-being to be experienced.
The other type of fast described is a water fast. It was custom to the prophet. I know of a few friends who have personally done this fast and have experienced many health benefits as well as spiritual benefits from doing this. I would recommend doing this with caution. Especially with doing so for a long period of time. I personally have done it for a few days with no complications but if you are going to do it for a long period of time, you need rest and medical supervision. Other people I know would do a juice fasting with the water. It was provide the energy that you need “for people with normal lives” but it will humble you as you are denying your desire for solid foods.
Remember when it comes to making your final decision about what type of fast is right for you, the best advise is to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. He will guide your heart and your mind as to what is best for you. Remember, the most important consideration in fasting is your motive. Why are you fasting? Are you seeking something personally from God’s hand? Do you wish to seek His face in worship, praise, and thanksgiving?
More on the Daniel fast…..
Here is a food list for you to follow while on the Daniel fast. Again this list is just one that was made up to keep a standard. Use your leading of the Holy Spirit when deciding which foods to eat and which not to eat.
- All fruits. These can be fresh, frozen, dried, juiced or canned. Watch labels for “added ingredients.” You want just fruit, no sugars.
- All vegetables. These can be fresh, frozen, dried, juiced or canned. Again, watch labels you want no salt just plain vegetables.
- All whole grains, including but not limited to whole wheat, brown rice, millet, quinoa, oats, barley, grits, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat tortillas, rice cakes and popcorn.
- All nuts and seeds, including but not limited to sunflower seeds, cashews, peanuts, sesame. Also nut butters including peanut butter.
- All legumes. These can be canned or dried. Legumes include but are not limited to dried beans, pinto beans, split peas, lentils, black eyed peas, kidney beans, black beans, cannellini beans, white beans.
- All quality oils including but not limited to olive, canola, grape seed, peanut, and sesame.
- Beverages: spring water, distilled water or other pure waters.
- Other: soy sauce, vinegar, seasonings, salt (sea or Himalayan salt preferred, see below for a detailed explanation), herbs and spices.
Why not table salt…….
Table Salt is highly processed, and most of the time it has some sort of animal residue in it, due to processing. Oftentimes, to bleach salt it is processed through crushed animals bones. Not only that, but since it is highly processed it has NO nutritional value and is sure to raise your blood pressure.
As humans we need very little salt in our diet and we regularly consume way too much of it. This fast will be an opportunity for you to retrain your body to eat healthier… and to feel better! If you do decide to use salt, buy the kinds still have minerals in it, such as Sea or Himalayan salt.
Foods to avoid on the Daniel fast….
- All meat and animal products including but not limited to beef, lamb, pork, poultry, and fish.
- All dairy products including but not limited to milk, cheese, cream, butter, and eggs.
- All sweetenersincluding but not limited to sugar, raw sugar, honey, syrups, molasses, and cane juice.
- All leavened bread including Ezekiel Bread (it contains yeast and honey) and baked goods.
- All refined and processed food products including but not limited to artificial flavorings, food additives, chemicals, white rice, white flour, and foods that contain artificial preservatives.
- All deep fried foods including but not limited to potato chips, French fries, corn chips.
- All solid fats including shortening, margarine, lard and foods high in fat.
- Beverages including but not limited to coffee, tea, herbal teas, carbonated beverages, energy drinks, and alcohol.
If you choose to start a fast this year, I pray God’s blessings for you. May He answer your prayers and may you successfully subdue your flesh into a full submission to your spirit. Remember that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) If He could do a miracle in our lives, He is sure capable to do it for you too, because “…with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)