In addition to our attitudes towards God and our stance before man, our motives must also be correct. We should fast in order to further the building up of God’s kingdom by seeking to minister to others. The prophet Isaiah received from the Lord the acceptable motives for our fasts: “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter -- when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” (Isaiah 58:6-7).
While not yet proven in humans, early studies in rats seem to link intermittent fasting with increased longevity. One study found that intermittent fasting decreased body weight and increased the life span in rats (6). Another found that a group of mice who fasted intermittently actually lived longer than the control group, although they were heavier than the non-fasting mice. (7) Of course, it’s not clear that the same results would happen in humans, but the signs are encouraging.
A fast for God doesn't have to be all day. It can be one meal. You could choose to give up sugar or caffeine. Fasting for God is sacrificing something that is important to you. Surrendering to God means giving of yourself for Him. We cry out, "All of you, none of me." Fasting tears down strongholds, fasting causes divine power to loose the chains of injustice and sets the captive free. A fast for God ushers in every ministering spirit to go forth on your behalf bringing solutions to every problem. If you want to see God's power working in your life, then fast.
Weight-loss resistance can often be due to an underlying hormone imbalance. Leptin resistance occurs when your brain stops recognizing leptin's signals to use your body’s fat stores for energy. This causes your body to continually store fat instead of using it. Intermittent fasting has been shown to improve chronic inflammation that can dull the brain’s leptin receptor sites.
Confront injustice through fasting. Fast as a way of expressing poverty in your body, to show solidarity with those who are impoverished by injustice in our fallen world. Divest yourself of some resources – food – for the good of others. Convert what you give up in food when you fast into gifts for the poor by estimating the cost of the food you would have eaten if you hadn’t fasted and giving that amount to charities that help poor people. Use the time you would have spent eating to serve people in need and help bring more justice to the world. Use your fasting to call attention to other people’s needs, such as when you’re working to find solutions to the problems causing injustice and want to inspire others (like government leaders) to take action as well. However, be sure not to call attention to yourself, simply to try to impress others with your fasting. Use fasting to confront injustices in our own attitudes and behaviors, as well – to break the hold of unhealthy habits in your life and help you grow in holiness. Ask God to give you a clear vision of what He would like your life to look like. Then, through fasting, express your complete surrender to that vision.
The Vajrayana practice of Nyung Ne is based on the tantric practice of Chenrezig. It is said that Chenrezig appeared to an Indian nun who had contracted leprosy and was on the verge of death. Chenrezig taught her the method of Nyung Ne in which one keeps the eight precepts on the first day, then refrains from both food and water on the second. Although seemingly against the Middle Way, this practice is to experience the negative karma of both oneself and all other sentient beings and, as such is seen to be of benefit. Other self-inflicted harm is discouraged.
You’ll spike your blood sugar when you eat. If you’re fasting on a high-carb diet and you’ve powered through the cravings and lack of energy from low blood sugar, there’s a good chance you’ll eat a ton of carbs when you feast. You want to eat big meals when you fast to make sure you’re getting enough calories, but all those excess carbs in one go will spike your blood sugar in the opposite direction, from low to high. High blood sugar causes fatigue and lack of focus. That raging hunger will also cause you to binge unnecessarily, and whatever carbs you don’t use will get stored as fat.
The problem is that too many people jump on the fasting bandwagon without understanding how to assess its impact. Once a plan has been integrated into your everyday life, you should take time every week or month to analyze how things are going. Even if weight loss is your primary goal, it’s important to consider how fasting is affecting other aspects of your health, such as your energy levels, ability to exercise and digestion. Here are some questions you should ask yourself.
Fasts must be entered and exited with care. To enter a fast, the diet should be gradually lightened over a few days. First, heavy foods such as meats and dairy products should be eliminated for a day or two. Grains, nuts, and beans should then be reduced for several days. The day before a fast, only easily digested foods like fruits, light salads, and soups should be eaten. During the fast, only pure water and occasional herbal teas should be drunk.
AN IMPORTANT CAVEAT: Intermittent Fasting can be more complex for people who have issues with blood sugar regulation, suffer from hypoglycemia, have diabetes, etc. If you fit into this category, check with your doctor or dietitian before adjusting your eating schedule. It also affects women differently (there’s a whole section dedicated to that below)
Prayer and fasting also occurs in the New Testament. Anna "worshipped night and day, fasting and praying" at the Temple (Luke 2:37). John the Baptist taught his disciples to fast (Mark 2:18). Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights before His temptation by Satan (Matthew 4:2). The church of Antioch fasted (Acts 13:2) and sent Paul and Barnabas off on their first missionary journey (Acts 13:3). Paul and Barnabas spent time in prayer and fasting for the appointment of elders in the churches (Acts 14:23).
In Methodism, fasting is considered one of the Works of Piety. The Discipline of the Wesleyan Methodist Church required Methodists to fast on "the first Friday after New-Year's-day; after Lady-day; after Midsummer-day; and after Michaelmas-day." Historically, Methodist clergy are required to fast on Wednesdays, in remembrance of the betrayal of Christ, and on Fridays, in remembrance of His crucifixion and death. "The General Rules of the Methodist Church," written by the founder of Methodism, John Wesley, wrote that "It is expected of all who desire to continue in these societies that they should continue to evidence their desire of salvation, by attending upon all the ordinances of God, such are: the public worship of God; the ministry of the Word, either read or expounded; the Supper of the Lord; family and private prayer; searching the Scriptures; and fasting or abstinence." The Directions Given to Band Societies (25 December 1744) mandated fasting and abstinence from meat on all Fridays of the year, a practice that was reemphasized by Phoebe Palmer and became standard in the Methodist churches of the holiness movement. Wesley himself also fasted before receiving Holy Communion "for the purpose of focusing his attention on God," and asked other Methodist Christians to do the same. In accordance with Scripture and the teachings of the Church Fathers, fasting in Methodism is done "from morning until evening"; John Wesley kept a more rigorous Friday Fast, fasting from sundown (on Thursday) until sundown (on Friday) in accordance with the liturgical definition of a day. The historic Methodist homilies regarding the Sermon on the Mount also stressed the importance of the Lenten fast. The United Methodist Church therefore states that:
If these extended periods without delicious food sound too painful to handle, rest assured: The best available evidence indicates that a regular ol’ diet is at least as safe and healthy and efficacious as intermittent fasting. Besides, sooner or later, a shiny new fad is bound to come along for the A-listers to fawn over, she says: “There’s going to be a new darling of the month before you know it.”
4) A sensitivity to God’s voice. The New Testament prophetess Anna is praised in the book of Luke for being a devoted servant to God and His temple. Because she regularly fasted and prayed, she was able to hear the voice of God speak clearly to her the day that Baby Jesus was brought into her temple to be dedicated. She knew He was the Christ and told everyone who would listen about His arrival. When we detox the spirit and become consumed with desire and praise for God, we become sensitive to His voice. Like Anna, when God speaks to us in the midst of chaos, we’ll still be able to pick out His voice and know what He wants us to do because we have trained our ear to hear Him through fasting, prayer, study and praise.
Fasting can take some time to get used to, as your body sheds old habits and learns new ones. But listen to your body! If you’re in hour 10 of 16 hours of fasting and feel like you absolutely need a snack, then have one. If your fasting time is up but you’re not hungry yet, wait until you are. There are no hard and fast rules here. You’re not “messing up.” You might find it helpful to jot down a sentence or two each day about how you felt; you might find that certain times of the month or year, different types of fasts work better for you.
Yes, you'll be hungry at times—but it's not necessarily overwhelming or constant. "Hunger doesn't seem to get worse as the day goes on, and some of our studies report increased fullness and satisfaction," says Kristin Hoddy, Ph.D., R.D.N., a dietitian in private practice who has researched fasting. "Some subjects remarked that they'd get distracted and 'forget' they were hungry."
You can eat out restriction-free five days a week on the Fast Diet. On fast days, however, the inflated portions at many restaurants may be a challenge, given that one serving of fries could possibly add up to your whole day's worth of calories. Choosing restaurants with disclosed calorie counts may take some guesswork out of ordering. Be prepared to stick to the diet plan while other friends are ordering freely.
I am not against people fasting in order to lose weight. Many people fast to lose weight or maintain their weight.What I am opposed to is making the losing of weight your primary goal in a season of spiritual fasting and prayer. To have weight loss as a goal makes your fasting a diet plan, not a time of genuine fasting and prayer. If losing weight is your purpose in fasting, you will be missing out on the full reason for fasting, and you likely will be concerned only with what you don't eat rather than with what you are led to pray.
Prayer and fasting is defined as voluntarily going without food in order to focus on prayer and fellowship with God. Prayer and fasting often go hand in hand, but this is not always the case. You can pray without fasting, and fast without prayer. It is when these two activities are combined and dedicated to God's glory that they reach their full effectiveness. Having a dedicated time of prayer and fasting is not a way of manipulating God into doing what you desire. Rather, it is simply forcing yourself to focus and rely on God for the strength, provision, and wisdom you need.
Tuesday fasting is common in southern India as well as northwestern India. In the south, it is believed that Tuesday is dedicated to Goddess Mariamman, a form of Goddess Shakti. Devotees eat before sunrise and drink only liquids between sunrise and sunset. In the North, Tuesday is dedicated to Lord Hanuman and devotees are allowed only to consume milk and fruit between sunrise and sunset.
For Roman Catholics, fasting, taken as a technical term, is the reduction of one's intake of food to one full meal (which may not contain meat on Ash Wednesday and Fridays throughout Lent) and two small meals (known liturgically as collations, taken in the morning and the evening), both of which together should not equal the large meal. Eating solid food between meals is not permitted. Fasting is required of the faithful between the ages of 18 and 59 on specified days. Complete abstinence of meat for the day is required of those 14 and older. Partial abstinence prescribes that meat be taken only once during the course of the day. Meat is understood not to include fish or cold-blooded animals.