GRA Fasting Guideline
Fasting is one of the pillars of the Christian faith. Fasting and prayer goes together. Fasting is more than mere abstinence from food and drink although this is a very important aspect of fasting. However, fasting means that the seeker is ready to put God first. The seeker then abstains himself from other things that can be boycotted or curtailed for the period of fasting. These may include ordinary business life, sleep, or pleasure. Fasting is not only taught but demonstrated in the holy Scriptures.
Matt 4: 2, Lk 4:2, Esther 4:16, Jonah 3: 7-7, Acts 27: 33, Mark 8: 1-3.
Fasting means abstinence from food, drink, pleasures of life like marital affairs and curtailment of daily duty or business so that the seeker could have enough time and dedication for prayer.
THE ORIGIN OF FASTING
Fasting has its origin in the time of law. Lev 16: 29-31; 23: 27-32. The Hebrews fasted on the Day of Atonement. Num 29-7. The Day of Atonement is an Hebrew festival instituted by God through Moses. It was held on the 10th day of Tishri (Sept/Oct). The 7th month in the Hebrew Calendar. The activities on this Day involved abstinence from labor, fasting, penitence, and sacrifice for sin. It is on this day that the high priest entered into the holy of holies. Exod 30: 10, Heb 9: 7-9. On this day the people were told to afflict their souls Lev 16.
REASONS WHY WE SHOULD FAST
The Holy Scriptures encourage us to fast in both the Old and New Testaments Lev 16: 29,31; Joel 1: 14; 2:12,15; Matt 17:14-21; 5:6.
The saints of Old Testament practiced it Moses. Exod 34: 38; Jews, I Sam 7:6; Elijah I Kg 19:8 Ezra 10:6; Daniel Dan 10:3.
The saints of the New Testament practiced it. Apostle Paul Acts 9:9; He was “ in fastings often” 2 Cor 11:27; Leaders in the church of Antioch Acts 13: 2,3; Paul and Barnabas Acts 14: 23; 27, 33.
The Lord Jesus Christ set the examples to follow Lk 4: 1,2. He preached it also Matt 6: 16; Matt 17:21.
Fasting puts down our flesh and increases our spiritual capacity, strength, and awareness. “ But they that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength”. Isa 40: 31
Fasting enables us to be more sensitive spiritually and to be a greater asset to God as He works His will in us and through us to the outside world. Esther 4: 16. Jonah 3, II Chron. 20: 1-25.
Deliverance is brought to those in bondage.
Fasting is an added powerful spiritual factor or means in obtaining special favor from the Lord in crucial times. Ezra 8: 21-23.
Fasting helps us to kindle and develop faith. Through fasting, spiritual fire is kindled in the soul of the seeker, and faith will operate well Matt 17: 20, 21.
Prayer with fasting makes the seeker’s prayers more effective. This is not to say that fasting in itself will produce miraculous answers, but it prepares the heart by humiliation. “ I humbled my soul with fasting” Psa 35: 13. God’s seekers also fast to express repentance and sorrow for sin committed. Jonah 3: 3-10
HOW LONG SHOULD A SEEKER FAST
There is no express command with respect to length of fast. The examples we could point to in the scriptures range from one day to forty days.
Forty Days Duration – In this group are: The Lord Jesus Christ Lk 4:1,2, Moses Exod 34: 28; Elijah I Kg 19:8.
Twenty- one Days Duration – the only recorded example in this group is Daniel. Dan 10:3.
Seven Days Duration– The ready example here is David II Sam 12: 16-18.
Three Days Duration– A good example is Esther and her people Est. 4: 16.
One Day Duration – Our example here is the children of Israel Jud 20: 26.
A Note of Warning – Long protracted fasting without food and water is not advisable. The long fasts of the Lord, Moses and Elijah without food and water for forty days were all under special conditions of mercy and grace. Those who are willing to do this also need the Holy Spirit instructions that will also supply the mercy and grace. Daniel’s twenty-one days fast explain this. Daniel “ ate no PLEASANT bread…till three whole weeks were fulfilled” Dan 10:3. He ate only some very plain common food for strength. Your health is very important to God. Acts 27:33; Matt 15: 32; I Sam 14; 24-30.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD A SEEKER FAST?
Apostle Paul declared that he was “ In fastings often” II Cor. 11:27. The Pharisee was not condemned for fasting twice a week, but “trusting in himself and despising others” Lk. 18: 9-12. Hence it is good to set time apart for prayer and fasting Joel 1: 14; 2: 12,15. “Sanctify (set apart)..a fast” II Chro. 20: 3-5. In fact we are encouraged to fast often I Cor. 7: 5.
THE WRONG KIND OF FASTING. Isa 58: 3-5
In Isa 58: 3-5, God condemns pharisaic forms of fasting.
- Practices about which we complain – ver. 3
- Merely afflicting the soul to attract God’s attention- Ver.3.
- For personal pleasure to boast one’s spirituality – Ver 3; Lk 18:12
- To exact full daily labor, that is to oppress employees to get full daily output of goods-ver 3.
- For contention, strife and debate- ver 4.
- Smiting with fist of wickedness-verse 4.
- Making your voice to be heard in public
- Bowing the head like a bulrush to make an impression on others-ver 5
- To sit in sackcloth and ashes Ver.5 and outward show of fasting
- Having a sad countenance, disfiguring the face, and making a show to be seen of men- Matt 6: 16-18.
THE RIGHT KIND OF FASTING
Godly fasting apart from pharisaic fasting is demonstrated in a life of practical holiness.
- To loose the band of wickedness –ver 6.
- To undo the heavy burdens-ver 6.
- Let the oppressed go free- ver 6.
- To break every yoke-ver 6.
- Break every yoke – ver 6.
- Break, divide and distribute bread to the hungry – ver 7
- To stop speaking vanity and cloth the naked – ver 7
- To call upon and cry to God – ver 9
FASTING AND GOOD HEALTH
Fasting has the following practical values for the health.
- Medical Science tells us that fasting is excellent for good health. The digestive system should be given periodical rest.
- Overweight and obese people are advised to fast in order to reduce weight. The slogan is, “ After you feast, you should fast.”
- It is very good for serious student to fast occasionally and particularly when they are about to start examinations. During fasting, this increase in the flow of the blood to the brain area and this gives more clarity of thought.
Few examples of old Testament Fasting:
- Moses Fasted and brought deliverance to Israel
- David fasted in repentance before God when he committed the sin of Adultery.
- Daniel fasted to receive revelation from God.
- Elijah fasted and experienced great anointing.
- Esther and the Jews fasted to experience breakthrough and deliverance
Examples of New Testament Fasting:
- Jesus fasted when he was on earth and so did His disciples.
- Church history reveals that fasting was practiced through the church ages and in the days of restoration. Accounts show that Luther, Calvin and Knox all fasted regularly.
Important Guidelines to Consider:
Whilst as a church we believe in fasting before anyone embarks on a period of abstinence from food and water, the following are the important guidelines to consider.
- Fasting for a long period of time; for example 30 or 60 days does not necessarily mean abstinence from food for the completion period of time that is 24 hours or longer.
- If it is not an Esther fast or a seven-day fast an individual can break at the latter part of the day, if he or she have prayed sufficiently.
- If an individual is on medication or is pregnant, we advise that they seek medical counsel.
- In case of fasting for more than a day, it is advisable to drink fluid like water when necessary.
- Children under the age 16 are not advised to go on long periods of fasting without supervision and the consent of parents.
It is important to understand the helpful guidelines above that underpin the exercise of fasting.
- Purity of life and speech is crucial during a period of fasting.(Ephesians 4:29; Colossians 3:8; 1Peter 3:10-12; Romans12:2;1 Peter 1:14-15)
- Fasting should also be carried out with a heart of compassion. The heart of compassion is reflected in distributing all saved food to the needy and less fortunate. Going back to eat all the saved food during a period of fasting not only negates the purpose of fasting, but also suggests that no discipline was achieved during the period of fasting. As a result, the human body can experience an explosion in size.
LENGTH OF TIME:
- The length of your fast should be determined by what you desire to receive and what the need is. It is important to fast until you truly feel that what you have made a sacrifice for, as you wait on the Lord, has been achieved.
PREPARATION FOR FASTING:
- It is not advisable to fast for a long period of time without preparing the body to go without food but not without water.
- It is extremely important that you talk to your doctor before engaging in a fast that requires more than 24hours without food so that the name of the Lord is not brought into disrepute.
KNOWING HOW TO FAST: FOUR RULES OF FASTING
- Fasting should be carried out with a heart of compassion (Isaiah 58:7b, c).
- Saved food during a period of fasting should be distributed, or its money equivalent given to the needy and less fortunate. (Isaiah 58:7a).
- Fasting should be for a set time (Esther4:16, 1 Chronicles 10:12, Matthew 4:2). The length of your fast should be determined by what you desire to receive and what the need is.
- Professional medical advice is needed for fasting that requires more than 24 hours without food, so that the name of the Lord is not brought into disrepute. (1 Corinthians 14:20 KJV).
SOME PRAYER POINTS DURING FASTING
- Prayer of thanksgiving and Praise for GRA.
- Prayer for individuals for the anointing, presence and the glory of God.
- The word of God to prevail.
- Pulling down Walls of Opposition
- Overcoming impossible situations
- Spirit of delay
- Divine Acceleration
- Abundance AND MANY MORE.
Fasting helps us to reach higher spiritual realm in prayer, meditation and in finding God’s will. The basic principle of fasting is abstinence from food for spiritual purpose.
The Holy Spirit should prompt fasting just as in any other activity in the life of the believer. However, we are told, “ Sanctify (set apart) … a fast” Joel 1: 14. This could be every week or month. Therefore we should not dogmatize on having the urge of the Holy Spirit before we fast.