If you have never really started walking in the spiritual discipline of fasting or if you have backslidden, I encourage you to do the following to bring things back to normal.
BACKSLIDING IN A LIFE OF FASTING
A person has backslidden in the discipline of fasting if he manifests the following characteristics:
- He does not fast at all.
- He fasts too infrequently.
- He is still fasting for the same length of time now as he did last year or two years ago. If, for example, two years ago he fasted three full days a month and now he is still fasting three full days a month, he has not made progress as years have gone by. He has backslidden. Stagnation is backsliding.
- He fasts less frequently than he did in the past. Maybe he used to fast for three days every fifteen days but now he fasts three days every month.
- He has stopped fasting completely.
- He used to have complete fasts, but now he can only have partial fasts. He may ease his conscience by giving reasonable excuses, but that does not take away the fact that he has backslidden. He may complain that he now has too much work and therefore must only fast partially. However, a careful observation will reveal the fact that he was equally busy when he had days of complete fasting.
- He frequently breaks his fasts before time. Again, he may give very “spiritual” reasons for breaking the fasts, but God knows his heart and he, too, knows that he has just sought religious reasons to satisfy the belly. Such a person should bear in mind that he is not buffeting the body to bring it under control. The body might soon control him.
- He does not spend time with God during the period of fasting but rather busies himself with one worldly thing after another.
- He sleeps more during the time of fasting than usual. This indicates that he has allowed the devil to step into his time through sleep.
- He plans and fasts when he is so busy with other things that he cannot spend time with God.
- He has no burden to discharge before God during the fast; as a result, his fasting has no spiritual implications.
- The main motivation for his fasting is to stay in good physical shape. He, therefore, frequently climbs on the scale to see how much weight he has lost, or spends much time before the mirror looking and admiring his improving shape as kilograms are rolling away from his body.
- He listens to those who are bent on having the fast stopped by various tricks, warnings, et etcetera.
- He has no goal for various fasts, and, therefore, the fasts accomplish nothing special in his walk with God.
- He commits sin and, instead of repenting and forsaking the sin, sets out to fast, as if fasting will replace repentance and restitution.
- He does not take measures to stand fast in the Lord after the fast.
- He breaks the fast in a hurry, having no time to pray and thank God for the fast. He has no time to listen to God towards the close of the fast. All he is taken up with is food.
- He commits the deadly sin of gluttony immediately after the fast.
- He commits gluttony all the time but fasts to keep in shape.
- He is overweight. Those who fast regularly and eat normally after a fast will not put on weight.
RESTORATION TO A LIFE OF FASTING
If you have never really started walking in the spiritual discipline of fasting or if you have backslidden, I encourage you to do the following to bring things back to normal:
- Acknowledge the fact that you have disobeyed the Lord by not fasting. You, therefore, have nothing in that realm for the Lord, Who sees in secret, to reward you.
- Acknowledge that not fasting or backsliding in fasting is sin.
- Acknowledge that backsliding in fasting is indicative of a broken relationship with the Lord.
- See the fact that, unless your backsliding is healed urgently, it might lead to backsliding in other areas of your walk with the Lord.
- Acknowledge the fact that you have loved food more than you have loved the Lord.
- Repent of your sin of backsliding.
- Repent of the sins you committed in an attempt to cover up your sin of backsliding. For example, you might have hidden behind the fact that you are underweight to stop fasting. Repent of this. Fasting is not for overweight people.
- Get back to a life of fasting. In that life, do the following:
Start by having one day of a complete fast a week. Do this every week for one month. This will enable the body to begin to adjust to a life of fasting. Go on to a two day fast. Do this a number of times until your body accepts it. Go on to a three-day fast. Seek the Lord’s face and receive from Him the time to have a longer fast of one week, two weeks, three weeks, one month, or forty days. When you have received from the Lord the time to go on a long fast, ask Him to give you a special burden that will be discharged during prayer as the fast goes on. It could be a burden about your spiritual condition or the spiritual condition of some person or persons that you love. It could be a burden to see a tribe reached for the Lord, and so on. The burden will give you additional incentive to press on to the end. Withdraw to a lonely place and start your fast after all the preliminary preparation. Pray, wait on the Lord, and read the Word as you fast. Resist every attempt by the devil to make you stop the fast prematurely. The devil may speak to you in a voice that will purport to be from the Lord, telling you that the fast has accomplished its purpose and that you should stop. The devil may attack you through someone who loves you and is afraid that you will die. You will not die. Your body will not undergo permanent damage, as may be suggested to you. You will not die. You will live. Complete the fast and live! If you are weak, rest and call upon the Lord to renew your strength. Go ahead and complete the fixed time for the fast. You set your hand to the plough. Do not look back. Do not withdraw. Do not say, “I will stop the fast today and continue tomorrow.” Tomorrow may never come. God wants you to fast today. Tomorrow will be too late. Act now. Complete your fast. Record your spiritual experiences during the fast. Also record what you felt during the fast. If you have been bound by some sin, take the opportunity of the fast to liberate yourself permanently. Dress well and be clean during the fast. Do not commit the sin of lying as you try to tell people who ask what is happening to you. Rejoice in the Lord as you fast. Intercede as you fast. When the fast is over, sort out with God when you should have the next fast and for how long it should be. When He speaks to you about it, write it down and obey. Ask the Lord to permit you to fast during some period as an act of worship of His Holy name. Let your timetable have fixed seasons of fasting as it has seasons of prayer. Between fasts, do not eat or drink things that will cause you problems during your fasts. You should permanently eliminate things like coffee from your diet, as lack of it causes headaches during long fasts if you usually drink it. You should exercise and reduce the quantity of food that you eat. Use the discipline of fasting to bring discipline into other areas of your life. Make plans for longer fasts. Labour to get into deeper prayer fellowship during fasts. Seek a companion in fasting. If you fail in one fast, do not give up. Try again. Keep trying until your spirit, soul, and body are tuned to a life of fasting. Look up to Jesus as you fast!