Fasting And Prayer Catholic Prayer And Fasting
In the catholic church we usually fast during lent, which begins on ash Wednesday and ends on good Friday. During this period, we give up something we enjoy eating and proceed to give what we saved from not indulging in our habits.
During this period we fast to pause and hit reset on our spiritual life. We deny the flesh to strengthen the spirit. Excluding the Eucharist fast , the catholic church has two forms of penitential practices
How Do I Start Fasting And Praying
When we are wanting to know how to how to fast and pray for beginners here are a few things to consider:
- Brain Dump Get a notebook or journal and write out your thoughts. Get it all out. Decide from there what you want to fast for, what you want to fast from, how long you plan to fast and what activity you will do to replace what you are fasting from.
- Start Off Small Start with fasting one item or one meal. Do that for a few weeks and then perhaps move up to two items or two meals. Then perhaps move up to fasting a whole day. This decision is between you and God. Just be honest with yourself on what you should do.
- Plan out what youll be doing while you are fasting. Spend time praying. Reading the Bible. Scripture Writing. Working through a bible study or devotional. Each fast should have a specific spiritual purpose. Identify what that is and design a focus to replace the time you would have spent eating. Without a purpose and plan, its not Christian fasting its just going hungry. Pre-planning is super important for your fasting and praying time to go as smoothly as possible.
- Be nice to others. Fasting doesnt give you an all-access pass to be grumpy with those around you. Read that again.
Fasting should really be made to include abstinence from anything which is legitimate in and of itself for the sake of some special spiritual purpose.
How Long And What Type Of Fast Is Right For You
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. 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.
None of those men had a formula fast that was the only right way. Fasting is about the condition of the heart, not the number of days. Each time that I have fasted for forty days, it was because I felt impressed by God to do so.
So, start slowly. Fast for one meal a day, or one day a week, or one week a month. Build up your spiritual muscles so that you will be prepared in a period of several months to fast for an extended 40 day period.
The Bible Recounts Primarily Two Types of Fasts
A partial fast is described in the book of Daniel. Although the water fast seemed to be the custom of the prophet, there was a three-week period in which he only abstained from delicacies, meat, and wine .
The two primary types mentioned in the Bible are the absolute. and supernatural absolute fasts. These are total fastsno food and no water. Paul went on an absolute fast for three days following his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus . Moses and Elijah engaged in what must be considered a supernatural absolute fast of forty days .
Why Fast Emptying And Dependence
Throughout my life I have engaged in fasting as a spiritual practice. Over the years, I have fasted for as short as one meal, and as long as one week.
I first learned about fasting in 1976 in Tanzania, from a faith healer named Edmund John. This healer had a three day process, and day two was always a full day fast. In other words, before you have hands laid on you for healing, you fast for a day. There was a profound message here: you empty yourself of food, before you are filled with the Holy Spirit and with healing.
This idea of emptying has become, for me, a central part of fasting. We might recall Philippians 2:7, Jesus emptied himself in his incarnation. So it is with fasting: I empty myself of something, in order to be receptive of something else. When I fast I find myself receptive to a closer relationship with God open to being filled with the Holy Spirit.
Related to this, fasting involves an attitude of trust and dependence. One depends on God to fill that which is being left empty. This is perhaps a succinct definition of faith: dependence on the creator to fill and supply what is needed.
Tips For A Successful Fasting
Prayer will help you to stay focused on your goals for the fast and will give you the strength to persevere.
2. Set a Goal
What do you hope to accomplish through this fast? What are your intentions? Having a clear goal in mind will help you to stay on track and will make it more likely that you will be successful.
3. Choose the Right Fast
Will you abstain from all food and water? Will you do a partial fast?
4. Prepare Your Body and Mind
Before you begin your fast, it is important to prepare. This means eating light meals for a few days beforehand and avoiding any foods or activities that may tempt you during the fast.
5. Follow the Rules of the Fast
When you are fasting, it is important to follow the rules of the fast. It is also important to avoid any activities that would compromise the fast spiritually, such as gossiping or engaging in arguments.
6. Be Flexible
It is important to be flexible. If something comes up that prevents you from following through with the fast, dont beat yourself up about it. Just get back on track as soon as possible.
Fasting can be difficult. Remember why you are doing this fast. There will be times when you feel like giving up, but if you push through those times, you will be successful.
8. End the Fast Properly
When the time comes to end your fast, it is important to do so properly. This means breaking the fast gradually by eating light meals.
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How To Begin Your Fast
Set your objectivePrepare yourself spirituallyPrepare yourself physically
How you begin and conduct your fast will largely determine your success. By following these seven basic steps to fasting, you will make your time with the Lord more meaningful and spiritually rewarding.
STEP 1: SET YOUR OBJECTIVE
Why are you fasting? Is it for spiritual renewal, for guidance, for healing, for the resolution of problems, for special grace to handle a difficult situation? Ask the Holy Spirit to clarify His leading and objectives for your prayer fast. This will 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 YOUR COMMITMENT
Pray about the kind of fast you should undertake. Jesus implied that all of His followers should fast 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:
- How long you will fastone meal, one day, a week, several weeks, forty days
- The type of fast God wants you to undertake
- What physical or social activities you will restrict
- How much time each day you will devote to prayer and Gods Word
Making these commitments ahead of time will help you sustain your fast when physical temptations and lifes pressures tempt you to abandon it.
STEP 3: PREPARE YOURSELF SPIRITUALLY
Dos And Donts Of Fasting
As Yeshua warned, it is useless to fast if we then cancel out all of our self-sacrifice by inflating our egos and boasting about it. Similarly, in Isaiah 58 we see that a self-justifying denial of food is counterproductive if we then selfishly refuse to take care of the poor. We need to check before we fast, asking, is my heart right before God? Its good to take a little time in repentance and confession, asking God to shine his light on any sin before we begin. Later in that chapter, Isaiah proceeds to talk about Shabbat in the context of fasting this is another opportunity to deny our fleshly indulgence and self-gratification in favor of concentrating on God, and making room for him. God challenges us to live a fasted lifestyle a laid-down, self-sacrificial life instead of just doing whatever we please. Am I willing to give my time to Gods pleasure rather than my own?
We should not fast under compulsion or when driven by guilt. Our free will and our desire to fast is critical. However, its also wise to take note of the errors of King Sauls disastrous fast in which he was just pushing for his own human agenda and trying to force his desired outcome without being submitted to Gods will . Do I really want Gods will, even when it might contradict my own?
from teaching by Chris HodgesPhoto by Bryan Minear on Unsplash
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How To Fast And Pray For Beginners
The following are 17 practical steps on how to fast and pray for beginners.
Now, there may be more, but these ones are necessary and sufficient to begin.
1. Let the Lord Inspire Your Fast
Unless, you are involved in a group fast, like church, ministry and fellowship group fast, your personal fast must be inspired of the Lord.
What that means is that, you should not just sit down and decide to fast because you think it is good and or because you need spiritual power, or because others are doing it, no.
If you must fast, let it be that it is the Lord that is calling you to it.
You will know when God calls you to a fast, the Holy Spirit will put the desire in your spirit.
And you what?
When God calls for a fast, He supplies the grace for it too.
Now, you may want to say, but what if I am passing through difficult times and having real spiritual challenge with life, should I wait for God to call me to a fast before I fast seeing I need a change?
Well, at times, unpleasant situations in life may inspire you to fast, but in all, just be sure the Lord is the one leading you.
You may also even want to fast because you have a strong desire to seek the Lord, to get closer to Him.
This also is not bad, but just be sure the Lord is leading the way all the time.
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
2. Start Small
Now, if you are a beginner when it comes to fasting and praying, please learn to start small at the first few instances.
Worship the Lord!
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Prayer And Fasting Actually Works
From a purely practical standpoint, the combination of prayer and fasting can lead to staggering results. Lets break down the examples given above to see how God worked through each of those instances:
God welcomed Israel back into His arms .
King Xerxes not only spared Esther when he had every right to kill her for approaching the throne uninvited but also listened to her and helped her rescue Israel from Haman .
David doesnt materially gain from praying and fasting for his enemies quite the opposite, actually but he reveals to the world that he truly is a man after Gods own heart .
God hears Daniels pleas and sends an angel to prophesy to him .
Anna gets to meet her Savior in person .
Paul and Barnabas found the men God wanted them to appoint as elders .
We should be praying and fasting whether or not we get the results we want the hardships David faced in his life werent enough to stop him, so why are our hardships enough to stop us?
Seeing that those results are possible should be more than enough to encourage us to make prayer and fasting part of our lives the same way the heroes of the Bible did.
Physically Preparing For A Fast That Extends More Than Two Days
- Prepare your body for the fast and prevent constipation during and after the fast by eating certain preventative foods at least two days beforehand , such as: fresh fruit and raw vegetables, fruit or vegetable juices, oatmeal, etc.
- Eat smaller meals a few days prior to the fast.
- Avoid high-fat and sugary foods before the fast.
- Make your commitment and determine the length. You can fast in many different ways. Pray, and ask God what He will give you faith for in terms of the duration of the fast.
- A Daniel fast, with vegetables and water, is good for those carrying a heavy workload.
- A fruit or vegetable juice fast allows you to enter into fasting but still gives enough energy to function. Many people have done a 40-day juice fast. If you have sugar sensitivities or problems , consult your doctor before attempting this fast.
- A water-only fast has been undertaken by many people. We would not encourage this without strong medical supervision, particularly in the case of young people. Depending on your weight and metabolism, you can go forty days on water alone.
- A total fast is without food or water . Never go beyond three days without water. Discuss your plans with your doctor, church leaders, and spouse or parents. We do not encourage the kind of fasting that abstains from all liquids without specific confirmation from the Lord through your church leadership or parents/spouse, etc.
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What Does The Bible Say About Prayer
Like fasting, prayer is taught in the Bible.
Ephesians 6:18 NIV reads, And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lords people.
There is no one specific way to pray. Neither is there a right or wrong way to pray. There are many written prayers, including well-known ones like the Lords Prayer and the Twenty-Third Psalm .
However, you can also use your own words in prayer. Similarly, people pray together with words or in song at church. However, people also pray alonewherever they are.
Ultimately, prayer is about the spirit, not the letter. Prayer form and content dont matter as much as coming to God with earnest intentions. Praying often and about everything can be wonderfulas long as you do so with an open heart.
How To Fast As A Christian
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Fasting is a sacred time in which Christians abstain from food, or other pleasures, and take the time to focus on God. If you are interested in focusing your life around God, while feeding the poor, deepening your faith — read on and find out how!
For a non-religious fast, see How to Fast.
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Dealing With The Responses Of Friends And Loved Ones
Many people are reluctant to tell others that they are fasting so they will avoid the sin of the Pharisees: fasting just to gain recognition for themselves. I strongly believe that attitude is a result of a wrong interpretation of our Lords teaching and that it is a trick of the enemy who does not want us to fast, nor to share with your loved ones, neighbors and friends the benefits of fasting.
However, I have found that unless you see them daily, they do not consider your skipped meal much of a concern. If you are asked, nonbelievers may be satisfied by such a brief answer as, I have other plans for lunch today. Or Christians should be satisfied when you answer that you are fasting today.
If friends and family express concern for your health, ease their fears by telling them that you will stop fasting the moment you feel you are harming your body or if the Lord leads you to end your fast. Tell them you are fasting under your doctors care, which I urge you to do if you have any question concerning your health.
There is usually no reason for telling strangers or casual acquaintances that you are fasting. If you do, they may subject you to a lot of questions that you may not want to answer. But in any case, use your best judgment and the Lords leading in telling people about your fast.