If it’s your first time doing this kind of fast, I’d recommend starting with one day rather than three. Here is a quick guide to a 24 hour fast.
- This podcast is about how rather than why we fast. Both are important. For a biblical theology of fasting, check out this excellent teaching on fasting from Bridgetown Church in Portland, Oregon. It’s available either audio or video - and you can find it in various podcast apps as well as at http://bridgetown.church/teaching/fasting/part-1-to-starve-the-flesh-and-feed-the-spirit/
- I would highly recommend reducing your dose of caffeine a couple of days before you start fasting. It will almost certainly make it more pleasant!
A suggested timeline
Evening: Have a meal (normal sized portion, overeating here really does not help!).
After that: Spend some time praying, reading, with friends, studying, etc. Pretty standard evening - just without the snacks/drinks. If you’re starting on Thursday, make sure you come along to the evening of prayer at church.
Morning: Get up and use that breakfast time to pray - make sure you have a good drink of water. Make the most of this prayer time - that extra 15 mins rather than eating breakfast can make all the difference!
Midday: You guessed it - more prayer and water! You might want to try a form of prayer adapted from monks. Read through the words - either silently or out loud. This might not be for everyone, but it could be worth giving it a go. The words can be found here. Just click on prayer during the day (second one down).
If you’ve not got lectures, why not head to a church where there is midday communion? The Minster, for example, have one every day at 12:30. This, of course, does technically break the fast. However, when we take communion while fasting it is a powerful reminder of how we are sustained by Jesus, who is present in the bread and wine.
Afternoon: By this time you may start to feel quite tired - that’s normal! You may also have a bit of a headache - caffeine (or lack thereof) is partly to blame. Now feels like the time that it would be great just to give up. Turn that desire into prayer - get before the Lord and plead for people who feel hopeless and like they can’t continue. What about looking through the Tearfund prayer diary and picking something from there to pray for?
Evening: Around the same time as you had your last meal the night before, spend some time praying and then break your fast. I’d recommend breaking your fast with a simple, not to a greasy meal. Yes, you may feel like a Chinese takeaway with a side of chips, but I speak from experience when I say it is a terrible idea. Soup and bread - or whatever you’d normally eat in an evening - are a good way forward.
A few do’s and don’ts
- Do listen to the teaching on fasting from Bridgetown church before you begin
- Do substitute meal times with prayer and reading the bible
- Do drink plenty of water
- Do go about life as normal, including lectures, small group, etc.
- Do find someone else who is planning to fast (maybe in your small group) and encourage each other
- Don’t decide that it would be a great day to take up running - stick to normal levels of exertion
- Don’t shout about it - check out Matthew 6:16-18
If you have any questions then do get in touch with the student team.