Monday, July 2, 2012

What is spiritual fasting?

In my last post I mentioned that I practice spiritual fasting. Once a month I join other members of my church and fast for 24 hours. During that time, I refrain from eating and only drink water when absolutely necessary, I pray about burdens on my heart, and pray for others that need the Lord's blessings.

The practice of fasting has been around for a very, very long time. We first see evidence of it in the Old Testament, where it is used as a natural way of showing sorrow and humility.

"And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: and I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession."
– Daniel 9:3-4

How do I fast?
Since fasting is a spiritual practice, it must always be coupled with prayer. Without prayer, you're leaving out all the spirituality and just starving yourself. I personally begin my fast with prayer on a Saturday afternoon, and end on Sunday afternoon with prayer and a family meal. During my fast, I will pray continually in my mind and heart. When hunger pains hit me, that is a good time to remember to get down on my knees in prayer.

What's the benefit of fasting?
As a teenager, the benefit of fasting was always hard to understand. I just saw it as intentionally starving myself! But now that I'm older, and have (hopefully) more mature spiritual eyes, I can see some benefits of fasting. 

"They did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God."
– Helaman 3:35

This verse explains that fasting and prayer will increase our faith, purify and sanctify our hearts, and increase our humility. When we yield our hearts unto God, we bring our hearts in alignment with the will of our Heavenly Father. 

How I know for myself –
I have personally found that fasting and prayer is a way to receive strength from God. Several years ago I was experiencing major temptation. Satan was pounding some horrible ideas into my brain, and I couldn't take it anymore!! I needed to cast Satan and his temptations out of my mind.

"Howbeit, this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting."
– Matthew 17:21

Praying about it day in and day out just wasn't working, so I decided to have a personal day of fasting and prayer to plead for God's help. AND IT WORKED!!! The thoughts and feelings left my mind completely, and they have never returned since then. What a blessing that was! This special day increased my faith in the doctrine of fasting, and now I am much more willing to fast when special help is needed from above.

I encourage you to consider having your own special day of fasting and prayer. Think about what you may need special help for from God. Or perhaps you know someone else who is suffering physically, spiritually, or emotionally. Dedicate the day to prayer and fasting. I promise you God is waiting to pour His blessings down upon you as you witness your faith in Him.

With love,


  1. Thank you for sharing this. I was inspired by that very scripture to begin fasting on a regular basis about an area of temptation and for a family member.

  2. I don't fast on a regular basis any more, BUT occasionally the Lord lays it on me, b/c there's a specific need for the spiritual warfare. So, I do what I'm called to do; HE is the only solution to the whole mix of issues for which I very grateful. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Fasting is a spiritual discipline I've never tried, but it has been coming up frequently lately in various areas. Maybe God is telling me something!

    Thanks for linking up with WIP Wednesday.

    MB @newlifesteward

  4. Fasting is an important part of the Christian life. Thank you for sharing your post at WJIM.

  5. Although I pray often, I don't think to fast unless I'm praying about something "big"... I guess it's probably something I should look into a little more. Thanks for linking up to Thrive @ Home Thursday!

  6. Jean, I really appreciate your thoughtful post on fasting. Quite honestly, I think that we don't talk much about our fasting, because we know that we are to go about this spiritual discipline quietly, without drawing attention to ourselves. It's good when someone does share, to sort of demystify the whole thing. You've talked about fasting in a way that explains the very real blessing found within this practice. Thank you for sharing your wisdom!

    1. You are very welcome! When I came across the verse in Helaman, the Holy Ghost spoke to my heart that this was something I needed to write about, but I wasn't sure how to go about it. It took a few tries to get it right, but I think God took over to get the message through.