What Not To Do When Fasting As A Christian?

“Look at me! I’ve been fasting for two whole days!” I groaned inwardly as a fellow church member announced his sacrifice for all to hear. Sure, I was impressed, but something felt… off. That moment was my lightbulb – there’s a right way and plenty of wrong ways to approach fasting as a Christian.

What is Christian Fasting?

Before we dive into what not to do, let’s get clear on the basics. Fasting, in a Christian context, is the intentional abstaining from food (or other things) for a set period while seeking deeper intimacy with God. It’s NOT a crash diet, an achievement badge, or a magic potion to get God to do whatever we want.

Why Do Christians Fast?

Here are some compelling reasons:

  1. Fasting creates space to quiet distractions and listen to His voice.
  1. Focused prayer combined with fasting can lead to breakthroughs in areas where we feel stuck.
  1. Clearing our minds through fasting can help us make wiser decisions.
  1. Denying our fleshly desires strengthens our spiritual muscles.
  1. Fasting can deepen our compassion and prayers for those in need.

10 Mistakes to Avoid When Fasting as a Christian

Sometimes well-intentioned Christians get caught up in the externals of fasting, missing the inward transformation it’s meant to inspire. Let’s look at two common mistakes that can hinder our spiritual growth:

Mistake #1: Fasting for the Applause

Jesus had a few choice words for those who made a show of their piety with their fasts (Matthew 6:16). It’s easy to subtly crave the recognition that comes with telling everyone about our spiritual discipline. If we find ourselves tempted to brag, either verbally or through social media, we need a heart check. Fasting is meant to be a deeply personal experience between us and God.

Mistake #2: The Weight Loss Obsession

Our culture is fixated on outward appearances, and that can influence our reasons for fasting. While there might be some physical changes during a fast, making weight loss the primary goal misses the point. God created our bodies as His temples (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Honoring God means making healthy choices all the time, not just for short bursts of deprivation. If weight loss is a major concern, pair prayer and fasting with wise counsel from your doctor or nutritionist. It’s about whole-person health!

A Deeper Look

These two mistakes might seem obvious, but they’re startlingly common! If you’ve stumbled over either one, don’t be discouraged. God knows our hearts. Confess any prideful motives or unhealthy fixations, and ask Him to realign your perspective for a fast that truly deepens your connection with Him.

Mistake #3: Turning Into a Grumpy Gus

Hangry: it’s a real thing! Fasting can make us irritable, snappy, and shorten our fuse significantly. Remember, Isaiah 58 describes a fast that pleases God as one focused on acts of mercy and compassion – pretty hard to do if we’re growling at everyone.

Here are some tips to manage those hanger pangs:

  • Mentally Prepare: Expect that some irritability is normal, so you won’t be blindsided by it.
  • Pray for Patience: Ask the Holy Spirit to give you extra patience and an abundance of kindness, especially when you feel your blood sugar is taking a dip.
  • Choose Your Battles: When fasting, practice letting those minor annoyances just roll off your back.
  • Warning Sign?: Maybe wear a sign with a funny message like “Caution: Low on Calories…Proceed with Care” on your fasting days. A little humor can diffuse tension for both you and those around you.
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Mistake #4: The All-Nighter for God

Some people mistakenly equate spiritual intensity with sleep deprivation. But when we neglect rest, we hinder what a fast can truly accomplish. God values a healthy body and mind.

Here’s why sleep is vital, even when fasting:

  • Clear Thinking: Sleep deprivation fogs our minds, making it hard to focus during Bible study or prayer – both critical to a meaningful fast.
  • Spiritual Openness: A rested mind is more receptive to God’s leading.
  • Emotional Stability: Being overly tired makes us more prone to negativity, impacting our overall fasting experience.

Instead, prioritize your sleep schedule even while fasting. If necessary, short power naps (not a full sleep cycle) can help boost alertness. Remember, God wants us well-rested so we can engage fully in the transformative process of fasting!

Mistake #5: Fasting = Impulsive Decisions

Fasting is a powerful time of seeking God’s direction, but hunger pangs and fatigue aren’t ideal conditions for clear-headed decision-making. Big choices – quitting a job, ending a relationship, relocating – are best made with a focused mind and outside wisdom.

Here’s why fasting might not be the best time for major decisions:

  • Hazy Thinking: Our brains function better when fueled. Hunger and sleep deprivation can hinder our rational decision-making abilities.
  • Emotional Rollercoaster: Fasting can intensify feelings. Don’t make huge life moves based on short-term emotions that may shift later.
  • Big Picture Matters: A fast can make us hyper-focus on the “now.” Important decisions need us to consider long-term impacts too.

Here’s a better approach:

  • Trusted Counsel: Seek input from mentors, pastors, or Christian counselors, especially for major decisions. Talk to them before, during, and after your fast.
  • Reflection and Journaling: Write down those breakthroughs and insights from your fast. Then, reevaluate them once you’re back in your normal routine.
  • Clarity Afterwards: The discernment gained during a fast can be incredibly helpful, but combine it with prayer and wise advice for finalizing decisions once your fast is over.

Mistake #6: Ignoring Your Body’s Signals

God doesn’t expect us to harm ourselves in pursuit of spiritual growth. If you feel seriously unwell – dizziness, extreme weakness, fainting – break your fast. Consult a doctor before any intense fasting plan, especially if you have underlying health conditions.

Remember: True spiritual discipline includes caring for the incredible body that God entrusted to us.

Mistake #7: Ditching the Water Bottle

Dehydration is the enemy, even when fasting from food. Drinking plenty of water is essential. Skip sugary or heavily caffeinated drinks that give a temporary energy boost followed by a slump. Clear broth might be okay depending on the specifics of your fast, but water is your best friend.

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Remember, dehydration causes headaches, fatigue, and a whole host of issues that definitely don’t make for a spiritually enriching fast!

Mistake #8: Fasting Lone-Wolf Style

Find a fasting buddy! This could be a spouse, close friend, or fellow church member. Having someone to pray with, check in on, and celebrate victories with adds depth and accountability to your fast.

Think of it like training for a marathon. You might be able to run alone, but doing it alongside someone else offers encouragement and makes reaching the goal that much sweeter.

Bonus Tip: Serve Others

Fasting shouldn’t be about isolating ourselves from the world. In fact, it can heighten our awareness of others’ needs. Look for practical ways to serve others with your time or resources during your fast – it’s a tangible expression of your faith.

Mistake #9: The Spiritual Hibernation

It’s tempting to use a fast as an excuse to withdraw from the world and responsibilities. However, a true spiritual fast involves active engagement with God and a heightened sensitivity to those around us. Don’t miss opportunities to minister to others, offer help, and be the hands and feet of Jesus during your fast.

Remember, Jesus spent time in solitude and fasting, but then he emerged filled with power to serve and uplift others.

Mistake #10: Neglecting Spiritual Nourishment

Think of fasting like clearing space in your home. Just removing stuff doesn’t make it beautiful – you need to fill it with the right things! The same principle applies spiritually. Don’t just cut out food, replace that time with focused Bible reading, worshipful music, and in-depth prayer.

Tips to combat this:

  • Bible Study Plan: Dive into a book or topic that relates to your reasons for fasting.
  • Worship Playlist: Swap secular music for heart-stirring worship songs.
  • Prayer Journal: Capture your conversations with God for a tangible record of your fast.

Mistake #11: The Comparison Trap

Scrolling social media or comparing notes with fellow fasters can make us feel inadequate or overly proud. Neither emotion is helpful! Remember, God works uniquely in each life. Ditch the comparisons and focus on your own journey with Jesus.

Tips to combat this:

  • Social Media Break: Log off to minimize distractions and the tempting comparison game.
  • Stay in Your Lane: Your relationship with Jesus is special. Don’t get sidetracked by how others are fasting.
  • Celebrate Uniqueness: Fasting with a buddy? Focus on the awesome ways God is showing up for each of you, rather than who’s doing it “better”.

Mistake #12: Expecting Instant Transformation

While fasting can be a catalyst for breakthroughs and growth, don’t expect instant, miraculous life changes simply because you skipped a few meals. True spiritual transformation takes time and is fueled by ongoing prayer, Bible study, and the application of God’s word to our lives.

Think of fasting as one tool in your spiritual growth toolkit. It prepares the soil of our hearts, but we still need to sow the seeds of obedience, diligently water them with God’s truth, and patiently wait for the harvest.

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Conclusion

Fasting is an incredible gift when approached with the right heart and understanding. By avoiding these common mistakes, you can deepen your fast and create space for God to do incredible work both in you and through you!

Beyond the Don’ts: Fasting as a Journey

While avoiding these mistakes is crucial, remember that fasting is more than a list of things not to do. It’s an invitation into a deeper, more transformative relationship with Jesus. Approach it with expectant faith, a humble heart, and a willingness to be changed from the inside out.

  • If fasting is new to you, start small! Perhaps choose a single meal to skip, or a partial fast.
  • Find a trusted Christian mentor to guide you, especially if you’re considering a longer or more intensive fast.
  • Let this article be a starting point. Seek out further biblical teaching on fasting to gain deeper insights.

May your fasting experiences be filled with God’s presence, breakthrough, and spiritual growth that extends far beyond the last day of your fast!

FAQ #1: I’m new to fasting. Where should I begin?

  • Start Small: If you’ve never fasted, begin with shorter periods like skipping one meal or doing a partial fast (e.g., no solid food until dinner).
  • Seek Guidance: Talk to a pastor or mature Christian mentor for advice based on your specific circumstances.
  • Focus on the “Why”: What is God calling you to through fasting? This will keep you motivated.

FAQ #2: Is it okay to feel grumpy or tired while fasting?

  • Normal, But Manageable: Some irritability and fatigue are common, especially initially. Be prepared, and don’t let it deter you!
  • Pray for Grace: Ask for extra patience and the fruit of the Spirit in your interactions.
  • Strategic Rest: Prioritize sleep and consider short naps if needed.
  • Listen to Your Body: If you feel seriously unwell, break your fast – God doesn’t want you to harm yourself.

FAQ #3: Will fasting automatically make me lose weight?

  • Focus Shift: While some weight loss is possible, it shouldn’t be your primary motivation. Fasting is primarily a spiritual discipline.
  • Healthy Approach: If weight loss is a goal, combine fasting with wise eating habits and, if necessary, consult a doctor or nutritionist.
  • Body as Temple: Honor your body as a gift from God, seeking lifelong health and wholeness, not just short-term results.

FAQ #4: Can I still exercise while fasting?

  • Depends on Intensity: For most healthy people, moderate exercise is fine, but strenuous workouts might be too taxing when fasting.
  • Listen to Your Body: Pay close attention to how you feel. Lightheadedness or extreme weakness are signs to stop and rest.
  • Hydration is Key: Drinking plenty of water is even more important when exercising while fasting.

FAQ #5: How do I resist the temptation to brag about my fast?

  • Heart Check: Ask yourself, “Am I seeking God or the approval of others?”
  • Private Practice: Unless necessary for accountability, your fast is mainly a personal matter between you and God.
  • Refocus on Worship: When tempted to boast, immediately shift your focus to praising God and thanking Him for the privilege of drawing near to Him.

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