This is probably a good time to mention that while I have practiced intermittent fasting consistently for the last year, I'm not fanatical about my diet. I work on building healthy habits that guide my behavior 90% of the time, so that I can do whatever I feel like during the other 10%. If I come over to your house to watch the football game and we order pizza at 11pm, guess what? I don't care that it's outside my feeding period, I'm eating it.
Christian fasting isn't some kind of a "work" that's commanded by Christ or required by Scripture. However, that doesn't mean that fasting isn't recommended as a part of our spiritual growth. The Book of Acts records believers fasting before they made important decisions (Acts 13:4; 14:23). Fasting and prayer are often linked together (Luke 2:37; 5:33). Too often, the focus of fasting is on the lack of food. However, the purpose of fasting is to take our eyes off the things of this world and instead focus on God. Fasting is a way to demonstrate to God and to ourselves that we are serious about our relationship with Him. Although fasting in Scripture is almost always a fasting from food, there are other ways to fast. Anything you can temporarily give up in order to better focus on God can be considered a fast (1 Corinthians 7:1-5). Fasting should be limited to a set time, especially when the fasting is from food. Extended periods of time without eating are harmful to the body. Fasting is not intended to punish our flesh, but to focus on God.
3. How are your labs? Are measures such as your cholesterol and blood sugar levels moving in the right direction, and all in healthy ranges? Also, many fasting protocols can be low in certain nutrients. Using labs to look at micronutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids and amino acids is essential to ensure that your intake is sufficient.
Unger’s Bible Dictionary explains that the word fast in the Bible is from the Hebrew word sum, meaning “to cover” the mouth, or from the Greek word nesteuo , meaning “to abstain.” For spiritual purposes, it means to go without eating and drinking (Esther 4:16 Esther 4:16Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast you for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in to the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.
Distinguish between fasting and abstinence. Fasting means not eating food (and sometimes not drinking) for a period of time (usually not more than 12 hours) in order to respond to a moment so sacred that indulging in food or drink would profane it. While some people say that they’re fasting when giving up something besides all food – like watching TV, having sex, or eating a specific kind of food, such as chocolate – for a while, that’s really abstinence, not fasting. Fasting is a more complete expression of devotion to God that can free you to focus your attention better on God.
Many people who want to try IF choose the 16:8 method because it allows you to eat whatever you want for an 8-hour window and then fast for 16 hours. During the fasting period, you can drink water, tea, coffee, and even diet soda. The trick is to figure out what 8-hour eating window works best for you. Are you fine with skipping breakfast? Or do you work out in the morning and prefer to forgo dinner? Experiment with the eating and fasting intervals that work best for you. However, like all restrictive diets, there are some drawbacks. For one, drinking caffeinated drinks while fasting can disrupt your circadian rhythm, and therefore, your metabolism.
An informative description of the proclamation of a fast is in Jeremiah 36:9. There the people of Judah convened, apparently for the purpose of national repentance. This at least is what Jeremiah instructed Baruch to encourage them to do (vv. 7-8). Moreover, Jeremiah refers to the anticipated event as a "day of fasting" (v. 6), suggesting a common practice known to him and the people generally. In fact, Isaiah had spoken of such convocations a century earlier ( 58:3-6 ), gatherings on special days for special purposes. Regardless of Isaiah's feelings about the abuse of fasting, it is obvious that he recognized it as a legitimate form of worship and that he found no fault with it being carried out on specially called occasions.
The second major day of fasting is Tisha B'Av, the day approximately 2500 years ago on which the Babylonians destroyed the first Holy Temple in Jerusalem, as well as on which the Romans destroyed the second Holy Temple in Jerusalem about 2000 years ago, and later after the Bar Kokhba revolt when the Jews were banished from Jerusalem, the day of Tisha B'Av was the one allowed exception. Tisha B'Av ends a three-week mourning period beginning with the fast of the 17th of Tammuz. This is also the day when observant Jews remember the many tragedies which have befallen the Jewish people, including the Holocaust.
It requires less time (and potentially less money). Rather than having to prepare or purchase three to six meals a day, you only need to prepare two meals. Instead of stopping what you’re doing six times a day to eat, you simply only have to stop to eat twice. Rather than having to do the dishes six times, you only have to do them twice. Rather than having to purchase six meals a day, you only need to purchase two.
Martin Luther, founder of the Lutheran Churches, held that fasting served to "kill and subdue the pride and lust of the flesh". As such, the Lutheran churches often emphasized voluntary fasting over collective fasting, though certain liturgical seasons and holy days were times for communal fasting and abstinence. Certain Lutheran communities advocate fasting during designated times such as Lent, especially on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. A Handbook for the Discipline of Lent delineates the following Lutheran fasting guidelines:
In the religions of some tribes of Native Americans, fasting was practiced before and during a vision quest. Among the Evenk of Siberia, shamans (religious personages thought to have the power to heal and to communicate psychically) often received their initial visions not with a quest but rather after an unexplained illness. After the initial vision, however, they fasted and trained themselves to see further visions and to control spirits. Historically, priestly societies among the Pueblo Indians of the American Southwest fasted during retreats before major ceremonies connected with seasonal changes.
César Chávez undertook a number of spiritual fasts, including a 25-day fast in 1968 promoting the principle of nonviolence, and a fast of 'thanksgiving and hope' to prepare for pre-arranged civil disobedience by farm workers. Chávez regarded a spiritual fast as "a personal spiritual transformation". Other progressive campaigns have adopted the tactic.