But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face so that you may not be seen fasting by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you. (Matthew 6:17-18 NASB)
Today I am going to detail seven types of fasting. Yes, I know I could have milked this for another couple weeks, but these descriptions won’t take that long, and besides, if I keep talking about fasting, I might feel compelled to give up a meal – sheesh – that would be over doing it.
Then the king went off to his palace and spent the night fasting, and no entertainment was brought before him; and his sleep fled from him. (Daniel 6:18 NASB)
Kris Vallotton of Bethel Church in Redding, CA, a favorite preacher of mine, jokingly talks about this fast often. He will tell you he has been doing a “Royal Fast,” where he fasted all night and then “broke fast” in the morning.
It is pretty funny, but there is some validity here. How many times have you tossed and turned in worry all night long because something big was happening in the morning? What if rather than toss and turn sleeplessly, you got up and spent the night in earnest prayer over that issue. Turn your fear into faith directed activity, until faith rises and sleep comes.
2) The “Water Fast.” This is what most people think of when they think fasting. Your basic zero calorie fast. When I do this, I often will have coffee or tea, and plenty of water. If you stay hydrated you can do this for a reasonable period of time.
There are many Christians who practice this one or the next one on a weekly basis. They will pick one day a week, and abstain from food. It would be good to plan your day in order that the temptations of food are less likely, and perhaps it would be a day when you were already scheduled for prayer – like a Church prayer meeting day, or a home group prayer day or something like that.
3) The “Liquid Fast.” Similar to above, only you would add in juices and broths. As I will reiterate when we get to the “rules” of fasting tomorrow, you set your own standard, so you can take this to any extent you want.
I remember we called a fast once, and a number in the group had never tried it before, and when we said liquids only, they spent the day drinking milk shakes. You know what. The fast still had a as great an impact on them, as it did on the ones who went on water only, and it was a great starting place.
This type of fast can be maintained for long periods of time. I know people who have done 40 days on a water fast. That is hard core, and if you plan to try long water fasts, you will need to modify your activities because you will run out of resources. A liquid fast is much more doable.
4) The “Daniel Fast.” Remember in the beginning of the Book of Daniel when he and the rest of the best of the Jews were taken into captivity and press into service of the Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. They were required to eat the kings meets which they knew might have been sacrificed to idols. Daniel threw down a challenge to the manager in charge to withhold from them the kings meet and his dainties (teehee – sorry that just strikes me funny.)
So the Daniel fast is the giving up of meets, breads and desserts. This one can also be done for long periods of time, since you body is getting nourishment, and you can continue to be active.
5) The “Benedictine Fast.” This is a traditional fast that has been used by various religious groups across the ages. It originated with the Benedictine order (bet you didn’t guess that) and put simply it is one meal per day. It is very similar to the fast that Muslims observe during Ramadan as I understand it, though I am not expert on either Muslim or Catholic traditions. But this is a valid fast, and after a good period of time will be just as fruitful.
6) The “Total Fast.” No food, no water – nothing! This can and should only be done for a very short period of time. Any more than a day or two is dangerous.
7) Finally what I would call the “Material Fast.” This would be the giving up of some thing or activity for a period of time to devote more of your time and resources to the Lord. Many Catholics practice this during lent. When I was a kid, I would hear about my classmates giving up Chocolate or TV during lent.
For years I did not think this was valid as a form of fasting, but for those who due to age or health restrictions can not do dietary fasting, I have found it to have the same effects in those with an honest heart and godly mind set.
Tomorrow I will finish this series with a few more details and precautions.
Thanks much for sticking with this for so many days.