The following are some fasting guidelines that may help you. Remember these are only guidelines and you should feel free to customize your fast, taking into account your health, goals, and experience. If you have any health issues or take prescription medications, we recommend you consult your health care provider before abstaining from any meals. If abstaining from food is impossible there are several other types of fasts described in this guide that may work better for you.
The twelve hour rule. If you don’t have much experience fasting from food, we recommend you fast no more than 12 hours in a single day. For example, if you plan on fasting from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm you may find it helpful to eat a light breakfast at 7 or 7:30 and then have a small meal or snack before you go to bed. Try not to compensate for lost meals with heavy or rich foods before you go to bed. You can fast all day or just a meal or two. It’s up to you.
START WHERE YOU ARE
All of us are at different places in our relationship with Jesus, in our lives and with our health. For some of us fasting has become a routine we are accustomed to, while for others it’s a brand new experience outside of our comfort zone. Wherever you find yourself our advice is the same. Start where you are. The fast you choose should challenge you, but this isn’t a contest. Fasting is not about seeing how much pain we can endure. It’s about humbling ourselves and drawing close to God.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF FASTS
Specific Food or Activity Fast
In this type of fast you omit a specific item(s) from your meals. For example, you
may choose to eliminate all red meat, processed or fast foods, or sweets. Most people can incorporate this type off fast relatively easily. It can also prove to be
a great solution for people with specific dietary needs or medical conditions that may cause certain limitations.
Instead of fasting from food you may also choose to fast from a regular activity or habit. This might include things like television, social media, and the like.
Prayer and fasting are not just about connecting to God but also about disconnecting from the world. Try to tune out some of the regular distractions from your day as much as possible. Replace that time with things that will nourish you spiritually.
A juice fast is simply a matter of consuming fruit and vegetable juices and water instead of solid food. Many people include a protein supplement in their liquid plan as well. This has proven to be one of the most popular and effective fasts for many people. Even if you choose not to make your entire fast liquids-only, substituting one or two meals for liquids is a great alternative.
A water-only fast is the normal fast in the Bible that most people are familiar with. This is the fast that Jesus and the New Testament church most likely practiced. A water fast is just that-no eating of any food or drinking of any liquids except water. Precautions should be taken when attempting a water fast as it can be difficult or dangerous especially for those with certain underlying medical conditions. If you are new to fasting we recommend water fasting for only a day or two at a time.
The Daniel fast is a great model to follow and one of the most commonly referred to. Within the Daniel fast there is room for broad interpretation. In the book of Daniel we find two different times when the prophet Daniel fasted. Daniel 1 states that He only ate vegetables and water, and in Daniel 10, while the passage does not give a specific list of foods that Daniel ate, it does state the he ate no rich foods, as well as no meat or wine. So based on these two verses, we can see that either of these, or a combination of the two, constitute a Daniel fast.
Marital Intimacy Fast
This type of fast was referred to by the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 7:5.
“Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
Before starting this kind of fast there should be agreement between the husband and wife as to exactly how long this fast will last and when exactly it will end. Both the husband and wife must remain sensitive to each others needs and and be prepared to terminate this fast immediately if sexual temptation in any way becomes an issue.