With Lent just around the corner, we're excited to publish this timely guest post from Kristen Feola, author of The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast.
Fasting is a unique opportunity to know God in a deeper way and to hear His voice more clearly. When you fast, you deny yourself food, or certain foods, for a specified period of time as an act of surrender and worship. Those who have participated in this spiritual discipline can testify to experiencing an increased sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, greater awareness of their dependence on the Lord, and a stronger compulsion to intercede for others.
Types of Fasts
• absolute – no food or water.
However, despite the many benefits that fasting offers, many Christians choose not to fast. Although there are a variety of reasons why this is the case, I believe it's mostly because of fear.
Fear can be a crippling emotion, often keeping us from moving forward when the Lord wants us to step out in faith. When it comes to fasting, many believers find themselves in this position – intrigued by the idea but afraid to commit. Unwilling to trust God in this area of their lives, they remain stuck in place, immobilized by their fears. Some of the most common hindrances to fasting are as follows:
- Fear of failure.
- Fear of being hungry.
- Fear of letting go of what brings comfort.
- Fear of physical side effects.
- Fear of not seeing answers to prayer.
Perhaps you can relate. You've heard testimonies of people sharing about the closeness they share with the Lord on a fast. You're familiar with the verses in the Bible on the subject. Yet, you can't get past the anxiety of going without food or certain foods, so you dismiss the whole idea.
It's normal to be afraid when we stand on the horizon of the unknown. However, fear is never a valid excuse for disobedience. In fact, the Lord makes it clear that when are afraid, we should put our trust in him. During times of weakness, he wants us to acknowledge our inadequacy and recognize that he alone is our Source of strength.
The discipline of fasting is mentioned several times throughout the Bible, but one verse in particular shows us that this practice is to be a regular part of our lives. In Matthew 6:16, as Jesus is teaching his disciples on the issue of fasting, he begins with, "When you fast," not "If you fast." His words imply that fasting is not optional for his followers.
How, then, do you deal with the panicky feelings that often accompany a fast?
- Confess your fear to the Lord. Tell him why you are afraid to fast, and ask him to replace your fear with trust.
- Fix your thoughts on truth. Meditate on verses such as:
- "The LORD is my light and my salvation — whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life — of whom shall I be afraid?" – Psalm 27:1
- "When I am afraid, I will trust in you." – Psalm 56:3
- "For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." – 2 Timothy 1:7, NLT
- Commit to a fast. Pray and ask God what kind of fast you should undertake (absolute, liquid, or partial) and for how long (1 day, 3 days, 7 days, 10 days, 21 days, etc.)
Fasting is God's invitation for you to draw near to him. The Lord is waiting for you to respond in faith. He wants you to come close so he can show you more about himself, his purposes, and his ways. All you have to do is be willing to set aside your fleshly desires and believe his promise: "For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, 'Do not fear; I will help you.'"
You can do it. God is with you, and he will provide all you need to fast and pray in his name. Don't let fear keep you from enjoying this sacred time with your Savior.
About Kristen Feola
Kristen Feola is the author of the best-selling book, The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast. She has worked as a personal trainer, nutritional consultant, and fitness instructor. Kristen lives in Springfield, Missouri, with her husband, Justin, and her two daughters. Visit her blog at www.ultimatedanielfast.com.
(This post does not necessarily represent the views of Zondervan. The writer's opinions are their own, and are shared for information purposes only. To receive new blogposts in your reader or email inbox, subscribe to Zondervan Blog.)