Fasting means to voluntarily deprive yourself of something for a time in order to give yourself more fully to prayer. Usually it means to fast from food, but it is possible to fast from many other comforts or activities: TV, Internet, computer, alcohol, magazines, sweets, or anything that regularly takes up time which can be made available for God instead.

Fasting is a demonstration to God that we mean what we pray. It is an outward expression of the commitment that lies behind the prayer. It has been practised by the Christian church throughout its history. It was also an important part of the prayer life of many Biblical characters. People fasted: to be in God’s presence ready to hear him (Acts 13:2); to seek God’s special help or blessing (2 Chronicles 20:1-4, Ezra 8:21-23); to express repentance (Nehemiah 9:1-2); to petition God to fulfil his word (Daniel 9:1–3)

Before fasting check
o No one is putting pressure on you to do so. Your fasting must stem from your personal choice and be based on your own convictions.
o You do not think fasting will make others accept you or recognise the strength of your spiritual life. Jesus said that you should not fast in order to be noticed by others. Rather, fasting is something between you and your heavenly father, who will reward you for what is done in secret (Matt. 6:18).
o You are not trying to punish yourself for a sinful life.“ Jesus himself bore our sins on the cross” (1 Peter 2:24). God forgives our sins, and doesn’t want us to punish ourselves for them.
o You are not just doing it because your friends or others in your church are fasting.

You should not fast:

If you are pregnant, breast-feeding or trying to conceive (both partners!).

If you are on medication, you should not fast without first consulting your doctor.

If you are not in good health, or suffer from any illness, physical or psychological problem, you should consult your doctor before fasting.

You should especially not fast if you have ever suffered from diabetes, epilepsy, anorexia, bulimia, psychological disorders or mental illness.

You should not fast if by doing so you could put other people’s lives at risk; for example if your occupation is a surgeon or a bus driver.

If you receive professional advice that fasting will harm you or others, you should not fast.

It is recommended that the elderly and children who are still growing physically should not fast.

If in doubt, consult your doctor.

Guidelines for a healthy fast
If you are a healthy, full-grown adult responsible fasting within the following guidelines should not normally cause any damage to your health. (It is essential to check with your doctor if you are not in this category! If in doubt, consult your doctor anyway.)
If you are not used to fasting, it is recommended that you start with a short fast (1-3 days). This will familiarise you with what it feels like to fast, and with how your body reacts to being without food. If you don’t experience any difficulties with this, then you can gradually increase the length of your fast until you become confident at fasting for one week, two weeks or longer. An alternative to fasting for long blocks of time is to fast for one day or more each week.
If you are planning to give up tea or coffee, we would advise you to do this several days before you stop eating. This is because your body becomes mildly addicted to the caffeine contained in these drinks. You should maintain or increase your fluid intake during a fast.
If you are under 18 discuss your proposed fast with a close adult relative.

Tips for fasting
One salted drink per day is recommended, to avoid getting cramps.
Don’t fast if your work or daily routine is physically demanding.
It is not recommended to play sport or take part in strenuous activities during a fast.
Take vitamin and mineral supplements during a fast of 3 days or more.
If you are planning to fast for more than a week tell a friend. Ask them to keep a check on your health. We would recommend that you don’t fast for more than 20 days unless you are in excellent health and are experienced at fasting. You should never fast for more than 40 days.

After several days of fasting your digestive system is at rest. It is important to break your fast gradually, to avoid possible problems with your digestion. If you have fasted on water only, it is wise to break your fast with soup, fruit juice or milk. You should also restart your intake of food gradually.
You should stop fasting
o If you start to feel very weak and are unable to carry out your daily activities.
o If you start to feel unwell or you develop unusual physical symptoms.
o If hunger pangs return.
o If you find your reactions becoming unduly slow, or if you are unable to concentrate.

Fasting facts
Most people find that the first day or two are hardest. This is because your body is used to a certain rhythm of eating and drinking. During this time it is normal to feel hungry, and for your stomach to rumble! You may also experience mild headaches. After a couple of days, the body quickly adapts, and people usually find themselves feeling less hungry.
It is normal to sleep less during a fast.
Many people find that during a fast, they have a much clearer mind, for the same reason.
It is also normal to feel much colder when fasting.
A fast that has been carefully monitored can be very beneficial for your health. In our Western society our bodies often suffer from the consequences of over-eating!

Partial fasting

Partial fasting was also practised in the Bible (e.g. Daniel 1:5-20). If you want to fast, but are unable to do so for reasons of health or work, a partial fast could be the answer for you. You could partially fast by just eating simple food or eating less often. For example, miss one meal each day and use the extra time to pray or eat normally, but drink only water. Fast from some activity that you enjoy; for example television or sport. (See also 1 Corinthians 7:5).