Fasting: Guide to Prayer and Fasting (2023)

A Guide to Prayer and Fasting: Part II, Fasting

Part I on Prayer has yet to be completed. It with this Fasting portion will be included with the revised Food in God’s Place when it is completed. Most of my posts on prayer are listed in the section below on prayer.


Although this page will focus primarily on a discussion of fasting, it is discussed in the greater context of prayer and fasting. Christian fasting is always a tool for focussing and enhancing prayer. Prayer is by far the most important. Although I write about fasting from the perspective that it is the individual believers choice to use fasting to enhance self-discipline and prayer, I find it interesting that most of the servant leaders who have contributed significantly to the Christian faith practiced regular fasting. These include within scripture: Moses, David, Elijah, Esther, Daniel, Paul, and of course our Lord and Savior its founder. Within recent history, we see examples from Luther, Calvin, Knox, Wesley, Edwards, and Finney. It, however, remains a matter of choice.

Why Fast?

The day devoted to prayer and fasting is a day of concentration on our Lord. I think the best description of this necessary concentration is found in the October 3rd reading of Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, where he comments on Mark 9:29.

“His disciples asked Him privately, ‘Why could we not cast it out?” (Mark 9:29) The answer lies in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. “This kind can come out by nothing but” concentrating on Him, and then doubling and redoubling that concentration on Him. We can remain powerless forever, as the disciples were in this situation, by trying to do God’s work without concentrating on His power, and by following instead the ideas that we draw from our own nature. We actually slander and dishonor God by our very eagerness to serve Him without knowing Him.”

So fasting is about concentrating in prayer at such a level that we carry it over into all of our other days.

(Video) Why Fasting Is Such a Powerful Form of Prayer


Fasting affects each person differently, and even when you practice it regularly, the experience is not always the same. Sometimes it will be agonizing and you will feel fatigued. Other times you may be testy and irritable. And sometimes you will feel great and have lots of energy. Whatever the experience, it is fervent persistent prayer that will move you through it.

Even after much practice, I still view my fasting days with a sort of low grade dread. I dislike it, but it is the day after where I usually see the blessing and the benefit. It is like choosing to have a bad day, then with prayer and the help of the Holy Spirit finding a way to move through it. I view my prayer and fasting days as intense training for all the other days. Fasting helps to refine and enhance our prayer focus, but it also enhances our other natural tendencies.

Quick to Anger?

If we are quick to anger, we may be somewhat more so on a fasting day. If we are quick to give up, then we may struggle in this area a little more on a fasting day. Or If your commitment to Christ is loose or wavering, whatever controls you will likely be revealed on your fasting day in your time of going without. Be prepared to face it in prayer. As Chambers says, double and redouble your concentration on Jesus.

So I’m trying to encourage you to do something I dislike, but do it because it will change your prayer life dramatically. And when you change your prayer life, you will have an intimacy with God you never knew before.

It is best to fast on a day where you will have sufficient time to devote to prayer. Also it is best, if possible, to choose a day free of anticipated challenging interactions at work or at home.

Suggestions of what to eat before and after:

The more you prepare and plan the easier it will be. If you use caffeine and eat a lot of sugar and simple carbohydrates, it will be harder. If possible, try and cut back on these a few days before your fast. My regular coffee and tea intake is down to one or two cups a day, and I can usually fast without difficulty. When I first tried fasting, I was drinking more coffee at that time, and I did have trouble with caffeine withdrawal headaches.

You will feel best if your meals the day before your fast are rich in fruits and vegetables, those highest in soluble fiber and vegetable fats (nuts, avocados, vegetable oils). With the exception of yogurt and eggs, minimize animal fats and proteins. Cut your intake of simple carbohydrates as much as possible. If the last meal you have before a fast is a cheeseburger, fries, and a soft drink, you will probably find your fasting day much more of a struggle than normal.

When Ending:

When you break the fast, stick to the same regimen. Don’t break your fast with fast food, candy, or sweets. If you do, you will drag your body down and you will miss the total experience.


Sunup to sundown (from evening meal to evening meal) 24 hours or 36 hours (from evening meal to breakfast the day after)? It is your choice. The daylight fast was common with the early church where the Wednesday and Friday fasts concluded mid-afternoon. Many people like myself find the 36 hour fast easier to manage. If you do choose evening meal to evening meal, take special care to have your fast breaking food prepared and available, and take special care not to binge. When I fast 24 hours, I am more likely to eat too fast and too much when I breakfast. The temptation to eat too much always hits me hardest in the evenings.

(Video) Learn How To Pray And Fast For A Breakthrough with Rick Warren

Water or no water?

Foster says in Celebration of Discipline that fasting in scripture typically involved abstaining from all food, solid or liquid, but not from water. There were exceptional examples of the absolute fast of going without food or water for three days, Esther’s fast and Paul’s fast after his encounter with Christ for example. Foster says, “It must be underscored that the absolute fast is the exception and should never be engaged in unless one has a very clear command from God, and then for no more than three days.” The human body cannot go without water for much more than three days, and much less in hot dry environments. While fasting, think of water as the Lord’s pure Spirit entering you, transforming you, and supplying you richly.

Attitude and mindset:

Meditate on Deuteronomy 8:3 on your fasting day. Remember who it is who supplies you with good things. Remember to love God during your fast, meditating on Deuteronomy 6:5. Ask Him to teach you how you can love him more during your fast and what lessons there are for you to learn during this time of prayer and fasting. Ask Him for strength to love others as yourself during the fast.

Read Isaiah 58 for a proper perspective on fasting.

Share your food:

I recommend that you share the money that you would spend on food with a homeless shelter or organization committed to helping the hungry. This sharing exercise may seem like a small donation, but after you try it, it will become something that you look forward to doing and will motivate you to fast more frequently.

What to do when you sense hunger:

Ask God in prayer to remind you every time that you have hunger pangs that you need him more than air, food, or water. Ask Him to calm you and relax you and help you rest in Him. Pray that you can learn to hunger for his Word and Spirit more than you hunger for food. Ask Him to teach you to hunger for being obedient, loving Him, and loving others more than you hunger for food.

What to pray about:

The day before your fast list everything which is an obstacle, everything that you worry about, and everything you desire. Pick the top three ‘mountains’ that are blocking your growth and progress. You can pray about everything on your fasting day, but keep focussing, doubling, and redoubling your efforts on these mountains. For more about what to pray about: What Do I Pray For?

Postings on Prayer

Prayer: What is Your Concept of God?

Prayer II: Believing is Seeing

What Do I Pray For? Part 1 of Prayer III


What Do I Pray For? Part 2 of Prayer III

What Do I Pray For? Part 3

How to Pray, Prayer IV

How Often Should I Pray? The Value of Persistence in Prayer: Prayer V

What Would Jesus Do? WWJD?—Wrong Question

Listen to God

Answered Prayer: How to Get There

Prayer Sacrifice

View of Others? Changing It Requires Raising the Dead

(Video) How To Pray And Fast For A Breakthrough | Spiritual Guide To FASTING

Christian Meditation for Panic and Fear

Daily reading in my Utmost for Highest by Oswald Chambers often help greatly with prayer, search “intercessory prayer.” Those devotionals can be found at

Group Fasts

After you cultivate fasting as a habit, you may want to invite friends to join you in the practice. When I do this, usually with a group of three, we share our mountains and pray about those. When possible we break our fast with a meal and prayer period. My bonds with my prayer and fasting partners are very strong.


Chambers, Oswald. My Utmost for His Highest. Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers, 1992.

Foster, Richard J. Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 1998.

Latourette, Kenneth Scott. A History of Christianity, Volume I: Beginnings to 1500. Peabody, MA: Prince Press, 2003.

Schaff, Philip. History of the Christian Church, Volume II: Ante-Nicene Christianity, From the Death of John the Apostle to Constantine the Great, A.D. 100 – 325. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2002.

Originally Published Jan 13, 2013

(Video) FASTING AND PRAYER GUIDE | Pray And Fast For A Breakthrough


How do you fast and pray properly? ›

Here are some things to consider:
  1. Start small. ...
  2. Keep it simple. ...
  3. Make sure your fast is good for you and your relationships. ...
  4. Watch out for rationalization. ...
  5. Keep it between you and God and your spiritual director. ...
  6. Come up with a plan for your fast.
5 Jun 2019

What prayer do you do before fasting? ›

Prayer Before a Fast Begins (A Pre-Fast Prayer)

Lord, as I begin this time of fasting, fill me with your strength. Help me to use this as a time of growth, renewal, and healing. Calm my anxiety about what I might be giving up or times of discomfort that I might face.

How do you properly fast for God? ›

To fast as a Christian, try starting out with a shorter fast, like a 1 meal or 1 day fast, if you've never fasted before. During your fast, hold worship and pray each morning. After your morning worship, go for a nice prayer walk outside so you can connect with nature and reflect on your fast.

What are the 3 types of fasting? ›

There are three main types of fasts: calorie restriction, nutrient restriction, and seasonal eating.

What should we not do in fast? ›


Just because alcohol is a liquid doesn't mean it won't break your fast. Alcohol has been shown to slow the breakdown of fat. Heavy drinking has been linked to weight gain and obesity. Knowing this, it's best to keep alcohol consumption within your feeding window.

What should you not do while fasting? ›

12 Things You Should NEVER Do During A Fast - YouTube

What is proper way to fast? ›

How to Fast Safely: 10 Helpful Tips
  1. Keep Fasting Periods Short. ...
  2. Eat a Small Amount on Fast Days. ...
  3. Stay Hydrated. ...
  4. Go for Walks or Meditate. ...
  5. Don't Break Fasts With a Feast. ...
  6. Stop Fasting If You Feel Unwell. ...
  7. Eat Enough Protein. ...
  8. Eat Plenty of Whole Foods on Non-Fasting Days.
2 Jan 2019

What do I say before I fast? ›

English translation: Oh Allah! I fasted for You and I believe in You, and I put my trust in You, and I break my fast with Your sustenance.

What to avoid while fasting and praying? ›

Broth from boiled potatoes, celery, and carrots (no salt). I suggest that you do not drink milk because it is a pure food and therefore a violation of the fast. Any product containing protein or fat, such as milk or soy-based drinks, should be avoided.

What does God say to do when fasting? ›

Jesus explained that fasting should be done without fanfare; and not “of a sad countenance” so as to “appear unto men to fast … But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast. …” (Matt.

What fast is acceptable to God? ›

Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?

How long should a spiritual fast last? ›

The length of the fast also depends on what you are fasting. If you are fasting both food and water, you shouldn't fast for more than two or three days. Furthermore, if you are abstaining merely from food, you can fast for longer. Some people will fast from food and water but will drink juice to maintain energy.

What are the 5 stages of fasting? ›

The 5 Stages of Intermittent Fasting with the LIFE Fasting Tracker app: 1) Ketosis and heavy ketosis, 2) Autophagy, 3) Growth hormone, 4) Insulin reduction, 5) Immune cell rejuvenation!

How do I fast according to the Bible? ›

Regular fast: A regular fast is when you abstain from all food and drink except for water (Matthew 4:2). Partial fast: This is a type of fasting that involves abstaining from a particular type of food. Daniel's diet while he was in Babylon is an example (Daniel 10:3).

What things break your fast? ›

Cursing, shouting, lying, telling tales, falsely testifying, listening to music. “They do not break the fast, but engaging in such behaviours deprives the person of rewards and God's forgiveness. Fasting is not only about refraining from eating and drinking.”

What is dirty fasting? ›

If intermittent fasting isn't working for you, you may want to try an alternative called dirty fasting. It involves eating limited calories, ideally 100 calories or less, during the fasting window. Some people prefer it to intermittent fasting because it makes it easier to get through fasting periods.

How does God say we should fast? ›

Jesus explained that fasting should be done without fanfare; and not “of a sad countenance” so as to “appear unto men to fast … But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast. …” (Matt.

What are the proper times to fast? ›

Consider a simple form of intermittent fasting.

Limit the hours of the day when you eat, and for best effect, make it earlier in the day (between 7 am to 3 pm, or even 10 am to 6 pm, but definitely not in the evening before bed). Avoid snacking or eating at nighttime, all the time.

What do I say before I fast? ›

English translation: Oh Allah! I fasted for You and I believe in You, and I put my trust in You, and I break my fast with Your sustenance.

What to avoid while fasting and praying? ›

Broth from boiled potatoes, celery, and carrots (no salt). I suggest that you do not drink milk because it is a pure food and therefore a violation of the fast. Any product containing protein or fat, such as milk or soy-based drinks, should be avoided.

How do you know when to fast for God? ›

Fasting can take place at any time in the day or over the course of however many days one chooses. An individual may choose to fast in a pattern. For example, he or she may choose to fast every Monday. Furthermore, others choose to fast once a month on the same day of each month.

Does sleeping count as fasting? ›

While Intermittent Fasting, sleeping does count as fasting.

While you sleep, you're not consuming any food or drinks, so you're actually in a completely fasted state.

How long should I fast for God? ›

Going longer than three days without eating or drinking can be dangerous. Supernatural fast: There have been instances when God enabled someone to fast in ways that they could not do on their own. Moses abstaining from food and water for 40 days (Deuteronomy 9:9) is an example of this type of fasting in the Bible.

What happens if you fast 7 days? ›

What Are The 7-Day Water Fast Dangers? There are many potential side effects to a 7-Day Water Fast, including rapid heartbeat, dizziness, and fatigue. The two most severe side effects are dehydration and muscle loss/weakness.

How do you begin your fast? ›

If you're a beginner learning how to fast, start with a 24-hour goal: Eat dinner, and then refrain from eating until the next night. Be sure to drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration, and plan your fast for a non-training day.

What time does fasting start in the morning? ›

Since verse 2:187 indicates that fasting begins at the point when sunlight first becomes visible to the human eye, then based on the stages of dawn described above, the beginning of fasting would be at the beginning of the nautical dawn stage, aka “first light”.

Is fasting valid without prayer? ›

The fast of one who does not pray is not valid and is not accepted, because the one who does not pray is a kaafir and an apostate, because Allah says in Quran 9: 11: 'But if they repent [by rejecting Shirk (polytheism) and accept Islamic Monotheism], perform Salat (Iqaamat-as-Salaah) and give Zakaah, then they are ...


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