God uses fasts to increase our hunger to spend time with Jesus, to give us more time to spend in prayer, and to remind us that this world and its desires are passing away. I find at the completion of these fasts I am often more focused on God's kingdom and more filled with God's power simply because I have been spending more time with him!
Many heroes of the faith fasted including Moses, Elijah, Esther, and Jesus. We follow their example! Jesus expected his followers to fast knowing how good it would be for them, "They will fast in that day." (Mark 2:20)
Our fasting symbolizes are longing for God's kingdom to come on earth and for Jesus' return. It is a prophetic statement, "This world/food is not what satisfies it is you and your kingdom, Jesus." It reminds us we are living in the times between Christ's first appearance and the time he will return to finish the renewal of all things.
In Acts 13, we see the early church praying and fasting. In fact, it was a key to their success in seeing kingdom expansion. Paul and Barnabas were called to to church plant across the Roman world in a time of prayer and fasting. As we model their lifestyle, we will see similar breakthroughs.
What Does a Fast Look Like?
First, please remember that if you have certain health issues a change in diet or a fast can be medically dangerous and should be avoided. As always, remember to drink lots of water especially when fasting.
Fasting works best if you replace the meal(s) or activity you are skipping with times of prayer, mediating on scripture, and worship. Otherwise, it becomes a mere physical ritual instead of life-giving experience in which you are learning to transform your physical hunger into a hunger for God. The Spirit will help us in our weakness - Romans 8:26!
The phrase "fasting" in our context is typically used to mean fasting from all foods for a meal, day, week, etc.
A Water Fast
A water or juice fast involves abstaining from all substances EXCEPT water or juice. This typically should last for no more than 3-10 days.
A Daniel Fast
The idea of a "Daniel fast" is found in Daniel Chapter 1 where Daniel and his friends refuse to eat the king's fine food and instead embrace a diet of vegetables during their time of training in Babylon. A "Daniel fast" for me consists of not eating any meats or sweats or fine foods (define that however you want :). I generally eat fruits, vegetables, some breads, beans, rice, and grains. Some keep a stricter diet than that. I have used a "Daniel Fast" for when I am doing fasts of more than 2-3 days.
A Media Fast
A media fast can involve abstaining from some type of daily entertainment - such as Facebook, tv/movies, internet, video games, etc. - for an extended period of time. I have found these to be very helpful for me when I have done them.
In fasting it is not the diet that matters, it is a heart that wants more of God and less of the world. Prayerfully, consider fasting and praying corporately with other members of our church. It changes us and the world around us.