Fasting can be a powerful spiritual exercise, especially when done in conjunction with dedicated prayer. While fasting is perhaps best known as a Christian practice, it is not unique to Christianity, as people of any faith can fast and pray. Read on to learn some basics, instructions, and tips related to how to fast and pray effectively.
Method 1 of 4: Prayer and Preparation Before Fasting
Step 1. Pray for guidance on what kind of fast to do
A traditional fast involves abstinence from food, but it can also be from television or other habits.
- An absolute fast demands that you abstain from any kind of solids or liquids except water.
- On a liquid fast, you will not be able to eat solid foods, but you can still drink any liquid you like.
- A partial fast requires you to abstain from certain foods or all of them for part of the day. This fasting is common among Catholics during Lent.
- A traditional Lent fast is a partial fast. You must abstain from meat on Fridays and Ash Wednesday. On that day and on Good Friday, you should limit yourself to one full meal and two smaller meals that shouldn't be as large as an ordinary meal. All drinks are acceptable.
- A bread and water fast allows you to consume these foods and nothing else.
- A media fast demands that you abstain from them. This includes all of them or just certain types such as television and the internet.
- In a habit fast you need to stop having a certain behavior. This can be anything from raising your voice to playing cards. This is another very common fast in Lent.
Step 2. Ask prayerfully for guidance on how long to fast
You can fast from one day to several weeks. Set a duration that is healthy but spiritually challenging.
- If you have never fasted before, it is recommended that you do not go beyond 24 to 36 hours.
- Do not fast on liquids for more than three days.
- Think before going on a very long absolute fast. Start by excluding a meal over several days. Once your body gets used to it, delete the next meal and finally all of them.
Step 3. Find out why you feel called to fast
In your prayers, ask God for guidance on what the purpose of fasting should be. This goal will give focus to your prayers and direction to fasting.
- A spiritual renewal is a common reason for fasting, but you can also fast for guidance, patience, or healing.
- You can also fast for a specific reason that goes beyond your personal and spiritual needs. For example, if a natural disaster happens, you can fast and pray for those affected.
- Fasting can be done as a token of gratitude as well.
Step 4. Ask for forgiveness
Repentance is an important element of fasting and effective prayer.
- With God's leading, make a list of your sins. The list should be as comprehensive as possible.
- Confess these sins to God, asking and accepting forgiveness.
- You must also ask forgiveness for those you have wronged and express a willingness to forgive those who have wronged you.
- Ask God for guidance on how to correct your mistakes.
Step 5. Pray asking who to tell about the fast
Some people approve of fasting, so you can tell those you believe will provide spiritual support during your fasting period.
- Pastors and spiritual partners are good options.
- Ask God for guidance on who can support you.
Step 6. Accept tips on fitness
In addition to preparing yourself spiritually, you must also prepare your body.
- Start slowly, especially if you are starting to fast. Eat small meals before fasting to prepare your body.
- Avoid caffeine 24 hours early, as a sudden lack of caffeine can cause or worsen your headaches.
- Slowly remove sugar from your diet for a week before a long fast, as people who consume a lot of sugar can have a lot of difficulty with this.
- Consider dieting only raw foods for several days before a long fast.
Method 2 of 4: Prayer while Fasting
Step 1. Focus on the reason for fasting
While you can pray for anything during the fast, setting a fast goal in advance will provide a point to focus on during most prayers.
Be open to changing your focus. You may feel called to fast for one reason only to find that God wants you to meditate on another
Step 2. Meditate with Holy Scripture
You can follow a Bible study guide or flip through its pages and stop where you feel you should read. Make notes of what you read and pray for a complete understanding of the Bible's lessons.
- Know that if you are not a Christian, you must meditate on the sacred texts according to your faith.
- You can also meditate on the spiritual books you are reading during the fasting period.
Step 3. Pray personal prayers and familiar prayers
Most of your prayers will be spontaneous, personal, and tailored to your needs. When you have no words, recite a familiar prayer to guide your communication with God.
One of the most famous prayers is the “Our Father”. Any prayer can be used, especially if you feel you should
Step 4. Use prayer objects
Some types of faith do not support the use, but it is acceptable to others.
Some objects are: rosaries, medals and crucifixes. For non-Catholic Christians, instrumental versions of familiar hymns and prayer beads can be used
Step 5. Pray with others
While most people prefer to do it alone, individually, you can consider praying with others as well. Group prayer is a way of asking God to be among you, making group prayer a powerful tool.
- You can pray out loud or silently, however, avoid comparing your prayers with those around you.
- Good prayer partners during a fast are usually the people you have informed about the fast or anyone who is also fasting.
Step 6. Find a quiet place
You can pray at any time of the day, no matter where you are or what's going on around you. During the period of focused prayer, such as a fast, however, it is important that it be a quiet time to spend more closely with God.
- You can use a quiet place indoors. The bedroom is usually a good place, but any quiet corner of your home, or office, is appropriate. You can even pray when you're alone in the car.
- Another alternative is to pray outdoors too. A quiet spot near trees allows you to spend time in prayer with God as well as admire His creation.
Step 7. Balance the prayers you already know with spontaneous prayer
Making a guide can be helpful, especially for long fasts, but you should not blindly obey your guide, avoiding spontaneous prayer when you feel God wants it.
- Pray during free time. The time you would normally spend eating, watching TV, or doing something different can be used with prayer.
- Make a plan to start and end your day with prayer.
Method 3 of 4: Additional Fasting Procedures
Step 1. Think about your personal hygiene
During a long, absolute fast, your body will expel many toxic substances in the first three days.
- Shower every day, especially during these first three days.
- Brush your teeth more than you usually do these first three days to avoid bad breath.
Step 2. Don't adopt an appearance of suffering
Fasting is a moment of closeness, of personal communion with God. Appearing to others as if you were suffering will generate pity and admiration, making your pride grow and making it difficult to be close to God with humility.
Step 3. Continue drinking fluids
You should not go more than three days without water.
You can abstain from other liquids, such as juice or milk, but you should continue drinking water during a long fast. Otherwise, you run the risk of serious dehydration, which can cause serious health problems
Step 4. Check your emotions
People who skip a meal tend to be in a bad mood. That way, if you skip too many meals, it will get even worse. Think about your emotional state, and if you're about to yell at the next person who talks to you, find a place to be alone, pray, and reflect.
Step 5. Limit your activities
Casual walks are acceptable and should be done, but fasting sucks all your energy, so you need to rest as much as you can.
For the same reason, you should also avoid strenuous exercise
Step 6. Avoid taking remedies, whether herbal or homeopathic, they can cause complications during fasting, causing side effects such as nausea, agitation, fatigue, dizziness and severe headaches
Remember, however, that you must not stop taking medications without your doctor's permission and supervision
Method 4 of 4: Prayer after Fasting and Additional Procedures
Step 1. Reflect on the experience and ask God for guidance
You may have learned a lot during your fast, but there are still other lessons you can have after the fast that you can't discover until after the fast is over. Ask God to guide you as you reflect and move forward so that you can make the most of your fasting experience.
- If you have committed to a partial fast, from some media, or from a habit, focus on your success and not your failures. Many people fail in these cases, especially if they are not used to fasting. Rather than viewing the experience as a failure because of your weaknesses, focus on the lessons learned and spiritual strength gained during your best times.
- Show gratitude. Above all, think about going forward in a spirit of gratitude. Thank God for completing a fast and for the spiritual direction you received during this time.
Step 2. Return to normal eating after a short fast
If you only fasted for 24 hours, you can go back to eating normally the next day.
Likewise, if you have fasted only from some food or one meal, you can go back to eating normally without additional precautions
Step 3. Break a fast in which you drank only water with a fruit
If you have fasted from all foods and other liquids, you should gradually return to eating, starting with a fruit.
- Watermelon and other fruits with lots of water are best.
- You can also drink fruit juices to adapt your body to something other than plain water.
Step 4. When fasting and drinking only fluids, start eating vegetables slowly
If you continue to drink juices during your fast, start slowly eating other things.
- On the first day, nothing but a raw salad.
- In the second, a baked or boiled potato. Do not use butter or other seasonings.
- During the third day, eat steamed vegetables. Again, don't use butter or other seasonings.
- From the fourth day onwards, you can return to your normal diet in whatever way is most convenient and comfortable for your body.
Step 5. Snack to get back to normal eating
When you return to normal life, eat several small meals in the first few days instead of moving on to large meals.