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How to Fast

Friday, 22 July 2022 - 6 minutes to read

Fasting is an integral part of the Christian life, designed to manifest the death of the old man, and move you into a place of greater faith. I believe it can break sin in your life, help you listen to God more clearly, and seems closely related to bringing in answers to prayer.

Having said that, I hate fasting, so it's something I only do when I feel God speak to me about it and I detest it. But I have fasted many times in my life, and here's my take on how to best go about it. Your mileage may vary, as always.

You can also do other types of fasting, like fasting from Internet and TV or other things. This guide covers food fasts.

Pay close attention to the last section about breaking fasts, it's really important.

Preparations

  • If you're sick, don't fast.
  • For a 1-3 day fast, I find preparation to be largely unnecessary.
  • For longer fasts, take a day or two to prepare yourself, it will help you.
  • Preparation basically means, stop eating garbage.
    • More fruits, vegetables, boiled vegetables, soups.
    • I love kefir with cereal. That's very good for the stomach. (Or yogurt.)
    • No meat, hamburgers, or french fries.
  • Wean yourself off of caffeine.

The actual fasting

  • Fasting means not eating.
    • It is, however, absolutely crucial to increase your fluid intake.
    • You should drink at least 2-3 liters (quarts) per day.
    • Some people say more than that (4-5 liters), but I've been fine with less.
  • You can fast on water only.
    • If you can, great. I hate it.
    • Don't fast on mineral water or spring water, I've heard of people getting kidney stones from that. Not fun.
    • As you get older, fasting on just water may become more difficult.
    • I would not be opposed to a heavily diluted juice just to add a flavor component.
  • But you don't have to fast on water only.
    • I buy grape juice, orange juice, even V8 juice, and use that.
    • Sometimes I dilute the juice with water 50/50.
    • I might even consider some hot chocolate (chocolate powder in water, mostly) as a complement to warm me up.
    • Not sure about tea. I would suggest green tea if you absolutely need it.
    • No coffee.
    • Let the Holy Spirit be your guide in what is appropriate for you.
  • Don't drink continually, space it out into "meals".
    • If you drink water all the time, you have to go to the bathroom all the time.
    • Here's my basic rule:
      • When my stomach experiences discomfort, I drink a large glass of liquid.
      • That usually settles it down and I'm fine for an hour or so.
      • When the discomfort comes back, I drink another large glass.
    • As long as you keep drinking, you should not feel any hunger.
    • Repeat until your fast is over.
  • You're putting yourself in starvation mode.
    • Your body is now living off your own reserves.
    • Don't exercise or do strenuous activities.

The first three days

  • The first three days are when the most discomfort happens. It is usually not a problem.
    • You may experience headaches, tiredness, and gurgly complaining from your stomach.
    • As your stomach settles down, you may have an interesting bathroom episode or two.
  • You should not feel sick.
    • If your body gets a fever, starts cramping, or experiences severe discomfort, break the fast.
  • Remember to drink a large glass of liquid whenever you feel discomfort.

Longer fasts (4-7 days)

  • Longer fasts are just really boring.
    • You notice how much time you actually spend eating.
  • From day 4 and on, your stomach typically just settles down and goes to sleep.
    • "I'm going to hibernate for a while, let me know when you need me."
    • You should not experience hunger, as long as you
      • Keep drinking a large glass of liquid when you feel discomfort.
  • Try to keep spiritually active.
    • This is why you're doing it.
    • You now have a lot of extra time on your hands to...
    • Pray, seek God, and listen.
  • You will feel cold.
    • Get blankets, and
    • Warm liquids, and
    • Read a book.
    • Do not exercise.

Even longer fasts

  • There may be additional days of discomfort around day 8-10, and show up every once in a while.
  • My maximum is 11 days.
    • But I know people who have gone for significantly longer.
    • I hated all 11 days of it.
  • You will start feeling very weak.
    • But it should still be safe if you're reasonably healthy.
  • You may get into periods of real quietness and listening to God.
  • There is a point around day 30-40 when your body will run out of reserves.
    • Your body will then turn to burning its own body for fuel.
    • Apparently this is when the real hunger sets in.
    • Jesus fasted for 40 days, and then "he became hungry". I believe this is what the bible is referring to.
  • In no event would I fast for more than 40 days.
    • This should be regarded as the absolute limit for a healthy individual.

Breaking a fast

  • THIS STEP IS REALLY IMPORTANT AND FAILURE TO DO THIS PROPERLY MAY RESULT IN INJURY OR, FOR LONGER FASTS, EVEN DEATH.
  • Your stomach has to be "woken up" from starvation mode.
  • Start slowly.
    • Sliced bananas in kefir is a good way to start.
    • Boiled vegetables, soft gentle foods. Basically, baby food after a long fast.
    • Eat a little, wait and bit and see how you're doing, eat a little more.
  • Increase your intake.
    • Depending on how experienced you are, and how your body does, you can increase quickly or slowly.
    • A teacher I had recommended the "wake-up period" to be equal to the days you fasted. (40 days fasting, 40 days getting back to eating.)
      • I find this to be excessive.
      • For a 1-3 day fast, I'm fine with just one day of getting back.
      • For longer fasts, I need 2-3 days of readjusting.
  • The main food processing seems to happen at night.
    • Don't assume your stomach is okay until you've had a night of sleep.
    • For this reason, I like to break my fasts just before nightfall with a simple meal (yogurt, kefir or similar).
  • Do not take this lightly.
    • I once broke a 10-day fast with a burger and fries.
      • I felt fine until that night.
      • The rest of the night was spent in the bathroom, in pain.
    • I've heard rumors of people taking a three-week fast (21 days) and breaking it with a rare steak.
      • According to the rumor, he did not survive.
    • Take your time. Eat gentle foods. Sleep.
    • Increase as your body gets adjusted.
    • If severe problems arise, see a doctor or call 911.


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