What is Fasting?

On Wednesday, September 6th, as a church family, we will have the first of three nights where we pray and fast for the city of Norman and the future of Providence Road. Fasting may be a foreign concept to many people, but it is a spiritual exercise that has a long and rich tradition in Christianity. Below is a brief explanation of fasting and a few practical tips for getting started.  

To put it in very simple terms, fasting is abstaining from things in this world to set our mind and hearts on God.

The thing people most often choose to fast from is food. Pastor David Mathis says this about fasting:

We fast in this life because we believe in the life to come. We don’t have to get it all here and now, because we have a promise that we will have it all in the coming age. We fast from what we can see and taste, because we have tasted and seen the goodness of the invisible and infinite God — and are desperately hungry for more of him... Fasting is for this world, for stretching our hearts to get fresh air beyond the pain and trouble around us. And it is for the battle against the sin and weakness inside us. We express our discontent with our sinful selves and our longing for more of Christ."

(Read more from David Mathis on Fasting for Beginners.)

Getting Started

Here are three practical tips for getting started:

  1. Start small – On these three Wednesdays when we will come together and pray, consider fasting on those days from something.
  2. Fasting from food – Again, start small, but consider fasting from lunch on those days. While not eating, pay attention to your hunger and redirect that hunger towards God. Plan to read your Bible during this time, listen to a few of your favorite worship songs, or just sit in silence and journal what you are hearing.
  3. Fasting from something (non-food) – You could go all day without caffeine, staying off social media, or something similar.

The main purpose in whatever you commit to fast from is to pay attention to your thoughts, feelings, and emotions that arise when you abstain from whatever you choose, and then redirect those to God.