The discipline of fasting entails that, apart from Saturdays, Sundays, and holy feasts, one should keep a total fast from all food and drink from midnight the night before to a certain time in the day usually three o'clock in the afternoon (the hour Jesus died on the Cross). Also, it is preferred that one reduce one's daily intake of food, typically by eating only one full meal a day.
American King James Version×), though other national fast days are mentioned in the Bible. Also, personal fasts are clearly expected of Christ’s disciples (Matthew 9:14-15 Matthew 9:14-15 14 Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but your disciples fast not? 15 And Jesus said to them, Can the children of the bridal chamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.
^ Bhikkhu, Thanissaro (5 June 2010). "Questions of Skill". Access to Insight. John T. Bullitt. Retrieved 7 June 2011. Each time you're about to act, ask yourself: "This action that I want to do: would it lead to self-harm, to the harm of others, or to both? Is it an unskillful action, with painful consequences, painful results?" If you foresee harm, don't follow through with it.
After that timespan, your body goes into what is known as the post–absorptive state, which is just a fancy way of saying that your body isn’t processing a meal. The post–absorptive state lasts until 8 to 12 hours after your last meal, which is when you enter the fasted state. It is much easier for you body to burn fat in the fasted state because your insulin levels are low.
John Calvin, the figurehead of the Reformed tradition (the Continental Reformed, Congregational, Presbyterian, and Anglican Churches) held that communal fasts "would help assuage the wrath of God, thus combating the ravages of plague, famine and war." In additional, individual fasting was beneficial in that "in preparing the individual privately for prayer, as well as promoting humility, the confession of guilt, gratitude for God's grace and, of course, discipling lust." As such, many of the Churches in the Reformed tradition retained the Lenten fast in its entirety. The Reformed Church in America describes the first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday, as a day "focused on prayer, fasting, and repentance" and considers fasting a focus of the whole Lenten season, as demonstrated in the "Invitation to Observe a Lenten Discipline", found in the Reformed liturgy for the Ash Wednesday service, which is read by the presider:
But while these diets have gained popularity, there have been only a few longitudinal studies on whether they actually lead to sustained weight loss. (U.S. News & World Report has a breakdown of past research into fasting diets.) Now there’s a new credible study to add to the mix: This 50-week study of 150 obese and overweight adults published in The American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition found that the 5:2 fasting diet was “equivalent but not superior to” conventional dieting in terms of weight loss and the prevention of metabolic diseases.
While the idea of fasting can be overwhelming, especially if you haven’t done it before, intermittent fasting can actually be a lot easier than many other types of eating plans. Since you are fasting for time restricted chunks of the day, you’ll be eating less food, which eliminates a lot of the stress around having to meal prep. During the periods of time in which you're eating, you’ll still want to focus mainly on healthy fats, clean protein, and carbohydrates from whole food sources—but this isn’t an excuse to hit the drive-thru and load up on sugar the rest of the time! Here are some of the effects of intermittent fasting:
Plea through fasting. While keeping mind that fasting isn’t a manipulative tool to add to your prayer requests, you can still fast to give yourself wholly to God when you’re pleading for something or someone. Fast when you find a particular condition intolerable, and you can’t be satisfied until you spend time with God expressing your concerns about it.
Alternative medicine A period of voluntary abstinence from foods and/or drinks; fasting is integral to many religions, as it is believed to purify the mind and spirit; fasting rests the GI tract, and may rid the body of toxins and undigested metabolites; fasting leads to a loss of water, Na+, and K+, resulting in postural hypotension, and decreased blood sugar resulting in depression, fatigue, decreased libido, and malaise, increased nitrogen in the circulation due to protein breakdown, and may result in premature childbirth—Yom Kippur effect
When we pray and fast, God promises that He will liberate us. He will loose the chains of injustice. He declares that He’ll untie the cords of the yoke and will give the oppressed their long-awaited freedom. He will set us free from the bondage of what others think, making us realize that any comparison we make with others is a guaranteed fast track to misery. When we fast and pray, God steps in and frees us from the perceived alienation with Him that has kept us immobilized, fearful, and disobedient for so long. As you consider God’s call to fasting, perhaps for the first time, you may choose to start slowly, fasting and praying for only one day. Perhaps you’ll decide to fast and pray one day each week throughout the year where you declare that specific twenty-four hours as your time of obedience to be alone in the intimate presence of God. As you do, God will give you grace, comfort, and a new direction in your Christian walk. In the end you will be set free.
As far back as the 1930s, scientists have been exploring the benefits of reducing calories by skipping meals. During that time, one American scientist found that significantly reducing calories helped mice live longer, healthier lives. More recently, researches have found the same in fruit flies, roundworms and monkeys. Studies have also shown that decreasing calorie consumption by 30 to 40 percent (regardless of how it’s done) can extend life span by a third or more. Plus, there’s data to suggest that limiting food intake may reduce the risk of many common diseases. Some believe fasting may also increase the body’s responsiveness to insulin, which regulates blood sugar and helps control hunger.
Seeking God's will in special circumstances requires special time with God. Fasting to God proves acknowledgment of your personal weakness and dependence on Him. The first step to any fast is admitting your need for God. Giving up food is an outward action for an inward commitment. Ezra 8:23 says, "So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer." Fasting for God requires sacrifice and discipline.
God uses fasting as a teaching tool on one of the annual holy days He commands us to keep. In Leviticus 23:27 God says “afflict your souls” on the Day of Atonement. The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary points out that afflicting your souls is a reference to fasting. So on this particular holy day God commands that His people forgo both food and water for 24 hours as a means of humbling themselves before Him, seeking Him and His will and guidance in life.
Side effects of fasting include dizziness, headaches, low blood sugar, muscle aches, weakness, and fatigue. Prolonged fasting can lead to anemia, a weakened immune system, liver and kidney problems, and irregular heartbeat. Fasting can also result in vitamin and mineral deficiencies, muscle breakdown, and diarrhea. When you drink laxative concoctions during a fast, there is an increased risk of fluid imbalance and dehydration.
I sometimes hear people say, "I'm giving up chocolate" and they regard this as a type of fasting. I think this is a rather frivolous approach. The first and foremost purpose of a biblical or spiritual fast is to get a breakthrough on a particular matter that one lifts up to the Lord in prayer. A spiritual fast involves our hearts and the way in which we relate to and trust God. It relates to discerning and receiving strength to follow through on what God might reveal to us about circumstances in our lives or a direction we are to take.
The Bible has only one command regarding fasting: God’s people are commanded to fast on the Day of Atonement from sundown to sundown (Leviticus 23:27-32 Leviticus 23:27-32 27 Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation to you; and you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the LORD. 28 And you shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God. 29 For whatever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people. 30 And whatever soul it be that does any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people. 31 You shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. 32 It shall be to you a sabbath of rest, and you shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even to even, shall you celebrate your sabbath.
I've been doing this fast with Jentezen Franklin for many years. I have seen miracles done, he healed me from addiction to alcohol! I know these fasts are hard, the spirit is willing, but the body is weak! I've fallen on past fasts, but asked God to forgive me, and went on. It's a physical struggle, but oh so worth it in the end! Please don't give up. 21 days is nothing compared to what's waiting for you at the end, and during the year! I've done the water only fasts, as well as the Daniel fast, which I'm doing now, that in itself is a struggle for me, as I don't care for fruits and vegetables much. God is his mercy and Grace see's each of our hearts, and knows we yearn for his closeness, but also he knows we are weak. Please keep praying and seeking, you won't be disappointed.
Studies show that intermittent fasting accelerates weight loss. In a 2015 review pooling 40 different studies, participants shed on average 10 pounds in a 10-week period. Another study found that obese adults following an “alternate day” intermittent fasting schedule (eating 25 percent of their daily calories on one day, and eating normally the following day) lost up to 13 pounds over 8 weeks.
The second major day of fasting is Tisha B'Av, the day approximately 2500 years ago on which the Babylonians destroyed the first Holy Temple in Jerusalem, as well as on which the Romans destroyed the second Holy Temple in Jerusalem about 2000 years ago, and later after the Bar Kokhba revolt when the Jews were banished from Jerusalem, the day of Tisha B'Av was the one allowed exception. Tisha B'Av ends a three-week mourning period beginning with the fast of the 17th of Tammuz. This is also the day when observant Jews remember the many tragedies which have befallen the Jewish people, including the Holocaust.
The best long-term diets, no matter what their rules entail, are the ones that are least difficult to maintain—and again, in this regard, intermittent fasting isn’t inherently superior to anything else. “Are you making changes in your behavior? Have you learned positive habits so that when you go back to not fasting, you’re going to be a healthier eater?” Sasson asks. “I know people who fast because they think, Okay, I’m going to be really bad and overdrink or overeat, and then two days a week I’m going to have a clean life, and that’s just not how it works.”
Fasting can be used for nearly every chronic condition, including allergies, anxiety, arthritis, asthma, depression, diabetes, headaches, heart disease, high cholesterol, low blood sugar, digestive disorders, mental illness, and obesity. Fasting is an effective and safe weight loss method. It is frequently prescribed as a detoxification treatment for those with conditions that may be influenced by environmental factors, such as cancer and multiple chemical sensitivity. Fasting has been used successfully to help treat people who have been exposed to high levels of toxic materials due to accident or occupation. Fasting is thought to be beneficial as a preventative measure to increase overall health, vitality, and resistance to disease. Fasting is also used as a method of mental and spiritual rejuvenation.
In a 2017 study in Science Translational Medicine, 71 participants who completed the fasting-mimicking diet showed health benefits including weight loss, lower blood pressure and a drop in levels of the hormone IGF-1, which primarily stimulates growth but also plays a role in regulating blood glucose levels. And depending on how healthy you are, you may not need to stick to the diet too long. For instance, Longo says a healthy athlete may need to do it only twice a year, while someone who’s overweight may need to continue with it until they see the improvements they want.
Fasting for special purposes or before or during special sacred times remains a characteristic of major religions of the world. In Jainism, for example, fasting according to certain prescribed rules and practicing certain types of meditation leads to trances that enable individuals to dissociate themselves from the world and reach a transcendent state. Some Buddhist monks of the Theravada school fast as part of their meditation practices. In India, Hindu sadhus (holy men) are admired for their frequent personal fasts for various reasons.
Pray before your fast. Pray, confessing every one of your sins, and inviting the Holy Spirit to lead your life. Let Jesus know you wish to know Him personally. Acknowledge that He lived without sin, died in our place, on the cross for our sins and rose 3 days later, freeing us from condemnation, and giving us His free gift of eternal life. Humble yourself to ask forgiveness from everyone you have hurt; ask forgiveness from God. Forgive those who have hurt you. You do not want to enter into a fast holding grudges, carrying envy, pride, anger or hurt. The enemy will try to use those things to distract you from your fast.
It requires less time (and potentially less money). Rather than having to prepare or purchase three to six meals a day, you only need to prepare two meals. Instead of stopping what you’re doing six times a day to eat, you simply only have to stop to eat twice. Rather than having to do the dishes six times, you only have to do them twice. Rather than having to purchase six meals a day, you only need to purchase two.
Intermittent fasting is hard in the contemplation, of that there is no doubt. “You go without food for 24 hours?” people would ask, incredulously when we explained what we were doing. “I could never do that.” But once started, it’s a snap. No worries about what and where to eat for one or two out of the three meals per day. It’s a great liberation. Your food expenditures plummet. And you’re not particularly hungry. … Although it’s tough to overcome the idea of going without food, once you begin the regimen, nothing could be easier.”
Third, you've probably already fasted many times, even though you don't know it. Have you ever slept in late on the weekends and then had a late brunch? Some people do this every weekend. In situations like these, we often eat dinner the night before and then don't eat until 11am or noon or even later. There's your 16–hour fast and you didn't even think about it.
Not only that, but growth hormone is increased during fasted states (both during sleep and after a period of fasting). Combine this increased growth hormone secretion:, the decrease in insulin production (and thus increase in insulin sensitivity ), and you’re essentially priming your body for muscle growth and fat loss with intermittent fasting.
TV/Movie Fast: You can take a break from a weekly favorite and use the time to pray or read the Bible. Is there a small group at church that you've thought about joining but it's during the time your show is on? Do you spend your Saturday binging Netflix when you could take some time to mentor someone God has placed on your heart? This is also a good time to evaluate how much of your time is spent watching TV and whether you need to cut back to make time for other priorities.
Fasting is always practiced prior to surgery or other procedures that require general anesthesia because of the risk of pulmonary aspiration of gastric contents after induction of anesthesia (i.e., vomiting and inhaling the vomit, causing life-threatening aspiration pneumonia). Additionally, certain medical tests, such as cholesterol testing (lipid panel) or certain blood glucose measurements require fasting for several hours so that a baseline can be established. In the case of a lipid panel, failure to fast for a full 12 hours (including vitamins) will guarantee an elevated triglyceride measurement.