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Spiritual Growth, Biblical Fasting

Fasting is one of the most powerful spiritual discipline of all the Christian disciplines. For through fasting and prayer, the Holy Spirit can transform your life.

Fasting and prayer can also work on a much grander scale. According to Scripture, personal experience and observation, I am convinced that when God's people fast with a proper Biblical motive, that of seeking God's Face, not His Hand, and do it with a broken, remorseful and contrite spirit, God absolutely will hear from Heaven and heal our lives and our churches. The awesome power can be released through you as you fast through the enabling of the Holy Spirit.

Fasting is one of the most neglected spiritual counsels. It has been ignored for so long that it is hard to find any information on the how-to's of this life-changing practice.

If you do not know of the power and importance of fasting, here are some very important facts:
Fasting was an expected discipline in both the Old and New Testament eras. For example,
Moses fasted at least two recorded forty-day periods (Ex.34:28; Deut.9:9). Jesus fasted 40 days (Lk.4:2), and reminded His followers to fast, when you fast (Mat.6:16), not if you fast.
<>Fasting and prayer can restore the loss of the first love (Rev.2:4) for your LORD and result in a more intimate relationship with Christ.
<>Fasting is a Biblical way to rightly humble yourself in the sight of God (Ps.35:13).
<>Fasting enables the Holy Spirit to reveal your true spiritual condition, resulting in brokenness, repentance, and a transformed life (Jonah 3:5-10).
<>Fasting will quicken the Word of God in your heart and His Truth will become more meaningful to you!
<>Fasting can transform your prayer life into a richer and more personal experience.
<>Fasting can result in a dynamic personal revival in your own life-and make you a channel of revival to others.
<>Fasting and prayer are Biblical disciplines that fulfill the requirements of: 2 Chron.7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (KJV)  
When a person fasts in the right way, they will be humbled in His awesome Presence. They will realize it is wise indeed to fast and pray to the LORD, and seek His Face, because He leads you to see and repent of unconfessed sin, which will bring special blessings from God.

Spiritual Preparation for Fasting

As you prepare for this special time with the LORD, it is wise to carefully examine your heart, and become totally aware of any unconfessed sin. The Bible tells us that God always demands that His people to repent of their sins before He will hear their prayers (Ps.66:18; Isa.1:15; 30:9; 59:2; Jer.14:12; Mal.2:2). When we pray, we must confess not only noticeable sins, but less apparent ones as well. We all have sins of omission (things we should have said or done and did not do), as well as the sins of commission (things we have said or done).
Consider the following: James 4:17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. (KJV)  Romans 7:14-20 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15  For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. 16  If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. 17  Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 18  For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19  For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20  Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (KJV)
Fasting is a common practice in Christianity. When Jesus was talking with His disciples He taught them about fasting. It was expected that His disciples would fast (Mat.6:16-18).

Here some tips for fasting.
Plan Your Fast

The Bible has examples of one-day, three-day, seven-day and forty-day fasts (Judges 20:26, Esther 4:16, 1 Samuel 31:13 and Matthew 4). We should always enter a fast with prayer, and a specific plan for how long we will fast.
There are many types of fasts as well. Some people fast with only water for short periods, while others maintain multi-week fasts with juice and broth maintaining a strict liquid diet.
Part of planning your fast should be to learn the different types of fasts and reasons to fast. It is also important to know how to break your fast correctly. This becomes more serious the longer your fast lasts.

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 force your family to skip Thanksgiving dinner because of your fast.

Tell Only the People You Must
Your spouse will need to know you are fasting. Other than that, it is better not telling people that you are fasting. Most will not understand, and too, fasting can also be 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 wellbeing.

Wean Yourself off Caffeine
Several days before your fast begins, you should start weaning yourself off caffeine. Some people have unbearable headaches 2 to 3 days after stopping caffeine products. During your fast you will already be very aware of your stomach, so there is no need to add a second discomfort of caffeine if it can be avoided.

What Is Fasting?
In most cases, a spiritual fast involves withdrawing from food while concentrating on prayer. A fast can mean refraining from snacks between meals, skipping one or two meals a day, stop eating only certain foods, or a total fast from all food for an entire day or longer.
For medical reasons, some people may not be able to fast from food altogether. They may choose to abstain only from certain foods, like sugar or chocolate, or from something other than food. In reality, believers may fast from anything. Doing without something temporarily, such as television or soda, is a way of redirecting our focus from earthly things toward God, can also be considered a spiritual fast.

The Purpose of Spiritual Fasting
While many people fast to lose weight, a dieting fast is not really considered a spiritual fast, because fasting provides exceptional spiritual benefits in the life of the believer.
Spiritual fasting demands self-control and discipline, as we deny the natural desires of the flesh. Spiritual fasting causes the believer's focus to be removed from the physical worldly things and to be deeply concentrated on God. Spiritual fasting leads and guides our hunger toward the LORD, clearing the mind and body of earthly cares and draws us closer to God. As we gain spiritual clearness of thought while fasting, it allows us to hear the LORD’S Voice so much more plainly. Spiritual fasting also reveals in us a deep need of God's help and guidance through complete dependence on Him.

What Fasting Is Not
Spiritual fasting is NOT a way to earn God's favor by getting Him to do something for us, but instead, fasting produces a change in us, which gives us a clearer, more focused attention and dependence on the LORD.
Fasting is NEVER to be a public display of spirituality, as the hypocrites do (Mat.23). Fasting is between you and God alone. Jesus specifically instructed us to let our fasting be done privately and in humility, or else we forfeit the wonderful benefits. While Old Testament fasting was a sign of mourning, New Testament believers were taught to practice fasting with a cheerful attitude. Matthew 6:16-18  Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 17  But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; 18  That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. (KJV)
Last, but not least, spiritual fasting is never to be considered as the purpose of punishing or harming the body.

Some Questions about Spiritual Fasting
How Long Should I Fast?

Fasting, especially from food, should be limited to a decided length of time. Fasting for too long can cause harm to the body. Fasting without water is extremely dangerous. I believe that the decision to fast should be guided by the Holy Spirit. While Jesus and Moses both fasted for 40 days without food (Deut.9:9; Mat.4:1-2), it is said that Moses took neither food nor water. This was clearly impossible, being accomplished only through power of the Holy Spirit . . . and no one should fast for any length of time without water.

How Often Can I Fast?
New Testament Christians practiced prayer and fasting regularly. Even though there is no Biblical command to fast, believers should be led by the LORD through prayer, concerning when and how often they should fast.

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