A Very Short Course on Fasting

August 17, 2005

A friend of mine found this in an old magazine I used to write for. After she commented on how much it helped her, I decided to reprint it here (used by permission).

A Very Short Course on Fasting

Years ago, I began to prepare for a series of teachings I was to give at three different ladies’ conferences. This woman’s organization had asked me to speak on how Jesus could heal the wounds of the past. Since I was only beginning to learn about this myself, I initially turned them down. But they insisted there was no one else on their hearts to teach this subject. I agreed to speak, very reluctantly, and began to pray as hard as I had for a long time – perhaps as hard as I ever had.

But God never showed me what to teach.

I then decided to read the Bible more. That was a good exercise in its own right. God did speak to me deeply and I learned a lot. The exercise did touch my heart on a dozen different subjects, but not on the subject I was supposed to teach on. The problem was that my healing was too fresh and the memories too personal to begin sharing them with others. I had kicked an addiction I didn’t want anyone to know about and I was making some things right that had been wrong for a long time, and I wasn’t quite finished the process. But the conferences were looming, and I was getting desperate for God to help me.

That’s when I decided to fast.

I did this because God didn’t seem to be helping me at all. I understood that if I fasted, God would notice I was serious about needing help and would now answer – even though He was reluctant before. Perhaps my belief system would imagine this conversation going on between God and one of the angels:

“Gabriel, look at Mike’s situation. I didn’t want to help him at all. But now he’s fasting, so I guess I’m obligated to do something for him.

Gabriel answers: “Lord God, what will we do next time he fasts?”

God: “Let’s change the rules. We certainly don’t want him asking us to help him. Perhaps make answers to prayer dependent on how much he gives to the poor.”

Of course, that isn’t what God was doing. But I definitely had the idea that fasting put an armlock on God and made him help.

During the first few days of not eating, I decided to follow Arthur Wallis’ four simple rules for an effective fast.

1. Don’t hang around with those who are eating at mealtimes. Go find a quiet place to be alone.

2. Stop doing life as you normally do during the fast. This is a time to hear God, not to fill up on entertainment.

3. Don’t chew gum (it stimulates stomach juices).

4. Drink lots of water with some lemon in it.

During the second day of the fast, God didn’t show me what to teach, but He did show me how he felt about these women in bondage to their hurts and bitterness. After that, my teachings were easy to put together. When God gave me a heart for them, they became my focus, not my wonderful knowledge.

But God wasn’t satisfied with just that. He also showed me my own heart and how I was stressing because I felt this was my ‘shot’ at becoming well-known as a public speaker. God warned me that such an attitude might just get me the popularity I sought while sacrificing my effectiveness as His servant. I repented of that attitude and it has stayed with me ever since. Sometimes the smallest choice can affect the rest of our days. Just like the rudder on a ship is small, but can turn the whole vessel, so a simple decision that comes from the leading of God can turn a life around.

Many people were spiritually touched and healed during those three teaching times. I was one of them.

For me, fasting is for one purpose. It is not to show God how great your need is, or to convince Him you are worthy of His attention. Fasting is for the purpose of cleansing your own life so you can get on with the mission of touching the lives of others.

If I’ve learned anything else about fasting, it is this: Only fast when God tells you to. Do it for as long as He leads. When He tells you you’re done, end it.



  1. Fasting can help to concentrate on God.

    When my stomach rumbles my thoughts are connected to him.

    This was a well written piece, also about the wrong motives.And the unexpected benefits! Thanks

  2. What an informative post. Great ideas I’ll have to implement during my next fast.

  3. Thanks for your input Shawn.

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