How Should I Prepare / Finish

By on 02/05/2017

Before the Fast

How to start fasting is a common question. Begin by preparing your mind, heart, spirit, and body. It is important to have a clear purpose for fasting and what you hope to gain from your fast.

Secondly, pray to the Lord and ask Him to reveal the motives of your heart, any unconfessed sin, and areas in your life that He desires to change. In Isaiah 29:13, God says, “…These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.” Isaiah 59:2 also instructs us to come before God with a clean heart: “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.”

To prepare your spirit for your fast, draw close to God through prayer and worship. Let God reveal Himself to you and why He is taking you through this time of fasting. The key to any spiritual preparation is intimacy with Jesus. John 15:7 says, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.”

Finally, your body can be prepared for fasting through pragmatic considerations and planning. A few days before your fast, get your body ready by reducing your food intake, eating raw fruits and vegetables, and avoiding foods high in sugar and fat. Also, develop a schedule of how long you will fast, what type of fast you will be doing, and how you are going to adjust your activities to ensure that you will persevere through the fast.

Remember, fasting is about focusing on Jesus, not about abstaining from food.

During the Fast

PRAY [15 minutes per day] – This is the #1 thing to help your fast. You can do much more with God than without Him. Jesus can give you POWER and Strength to help you have a successful fast. Phillipians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.”

READ THE SCRIPTURES [15 minutes per day] – Start by reading the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. You will really be encouraged and inspired. The New Testament has so many practical and encouraging verses to apply to your life. The Bible is your “spiritual food” during fasting.

SACRAMENTS – Mass attendance; a visit to a church or chapel; making the Stations of the cross; praying the Rosary.

ASSOCIATE WITH POSITIVE, FAITH FILLED PEOPLE – who will encourage you during your fast. Don’t associate with people or in places that will drag you down, take away your faith, or tempt you with eating. If some friends or church members are fasting with you, support and encourage them. However, you must determine that you will succeed with your fast whether anyone else does or not.

EXPECT BLESSINGS – Keep a PEN AND PAPER both with you and by your bed. Write down the revelations and dreams that God gives you. Remember, one good revelation from God can change your life forever. God wants to bless you. Have faith and belief for miracles! Keep a great positive attitude!

RECEIVE YOUR BLESSINGS– Be open and receive the many ways that God wants to bless you. During your fast, God wants to bless you in all areas of your life.

RELAX AND LISTEN TO GOD – Get plenty of rest and sleep. Don’t push yourself too hard physically. Get away from the hustle and rat race of life when you can, and get alone with God. Go for walks, take a relaxing bath, relax in a swimming pool, go fishing, etc. Get quiet so you can listen to God.

INCREASE POSITIVE OR SPIRITUAL INPUT – Listen and sing praise and worship music. Listen to podcasts and inspirational material. Read the Bible, watch Christian TV, etc). Your spirit becomes extremely open during your fast. Strengthening your Spirit will allow you to hear God’s voice more clearly.

DECREASE NEGATIVE OR WORLDLY INPUT – (secular movies, video games, secular TV or radio, negative association, etc.). Worldly input can weaken you when fasting.

FAST IN SECRET – Jesus said in Matthew 6:18, “so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Your fast is mostly between you and God, so you should tell very few or no people (unless you are doing a corporate fast with other faith filled Christians). You can encourage more people and give your testimony of what Jesus did for you after you break your fast. It is especially important to not tell people who have low faith and high negativity that you are fasting. They will likely discourage you. If you hear too much negativity and discouragement, it will increase your chances of quitting your fast. Always keep a positive environment during your fast.

GIVE ALL THE GLORY TO GOD! – Never become proud because you are fasting. Always give all the praise, honor and glory to Jesus in all that you do!

After the Fast

SPIRITUALLY

If you sincerely humble yourself before the Lord, repent, pray, and seek God’s face; if you consistently meditate on His Word, you will experience a heightened awareness of His presence (John 14:21).

The Lord will give you fresh, new spiritual insights. Your confidence and faith in God will be strengthened. You will feel mentally, spiritually, and physically refreshed. You will see answers to your prayers.

A single fast, however, is not a spiritual cure-all, we also need new times of fasting before God. A 24-hour fast each week has been greatly rewarding to many Christians.

It takes time to build your spiritual fasting muscles. If you fail to make it through your first fast, do not be discouraged. You may have tried to fast too long the first time out, or you may need to strengthen your understanding and resolve. As soon as possible, undertake another fast until you do succeed. God will honour you for your faithfulness.

 

PHYSICALLY

Care needs to be taken when breaking a fast so as not to overburden your digestive system. The best benefit of fasting is realized when a fast is broken properly. Taking it slow and easy is not only kind to your body, but allows YOU the opportunity to integrate your new-found clarity on your relationship to food.

During a fast, the body undergoes several biological changes. Enzymes normally produced by the digestive system have ceased to be produced or have been diminished greatly, depending on the type of fast performed, so introducing food slowly allows the body time to re-establish this enzyme production.

The protective mucus lining of the stomach may be temporarily diminished as well, making the stomach walls more vulnerable to irritation until it also returns to normal. Gentle reintroduction of foods, beginning with the simplest and easiest-to-digest foods, supports this process. Substances known to be irritating to the system, such as coffee and spicy foods, must be avoided during the breaking process.

Because of these biological changes, overeating immediately following a fast is much worse than overeating at any other time. Your system needs time to readjust back to normal digestion and assimilation. Not taking the proper measures can result in stomach cramping, nausea, and even vomiting.

The adjustment period necessary is based on the length of the fast. Four days is considered adequate for any of the longer fasts, 1-3 days for shorter fasts, and just a day or so for one-day fasts.

Foods to use for breaking a fast

The most nutritious and easy-to-digest foods are used to break a fast initially, gradually adding more diversity and complexity over time.

The type of fast employed will determine the type of foods you use to break it. While juice or fruit are good for breaking a water fast, obviously, they aren’t very helpful in breaking juice or fruit fasts.

To help you determine when to introduce the different food groups, use the following list. It begins with those that are easiest on the system and can be introduced early on, and progresses to those that should be added later.

Depending on the length of your fast, you may go through the list in one day or in 4 days. And you certainly don’t need to eat everything on the list, it’s just a general guideline.

  1. fruit and vegetable juices
  2. raw fruits
  3. vegetable or bone broths
  4. yogurt (or other living, cultured milk products), unsweetened
  5. lettuces and spinach (can use plain yogurt as a dressing and top with fresh fruit)
  6. cooked vegetables and vegetable soups
  7. raw vegetables
  8. well cooked grains and beans
  9. nuts and eggs
  10. milk products (non-cultured)
  11. meats and anything else

Any of the first three items are good for that initial “breaking” of a fast, that first thing you eat; raw fruit being the easiest and most popular.

Even if you didn’t do a full fast, you’ll want to start adding new foods from toward the top of the list. This will support re-establishment of more diverse enzyme production beginning with the simplest.

More pointers for breaking a fast

  • Pay close attention to your body’s reactions to these “new” foods. Watch for any adverse reactions, perhaps signalling a mild allergy or that you have gone too far, too quickly. Feel for the sensation of fullness and stop eating at that point. Begin to train yourself to watch for that signal, so you’ll always know when your body is fully nourished.
  • When breaking a fast, begin with frequent small meals, every 2 hours or so, progressing gradually toward larger meals with more time in between them until you reach a “normal” eating routine, such as 3 meals and 2 snacks in a day’s time.
  • Chew foods well. This will help immensely with proper digestion and is a good habit to foster.
  • Strive to add live enzymes and good bacteria to your system. Fresh, raw foods are full of living enzymes good for your body and digestion. Probiotics, or “good” bacteria, can be found not only in pill form, but also in naturally cultured and fermented food products, such as yogurt, sauerkraut, and miso.