Another aspect of fasting for God is comparable to a person dedicating an action to a cause. For God and country was, at one time, a familiar declaration in the United States. It implied that the action being taken was to answer a noble call and serve a higher motive, the expectation of reward or compensation being far removed. The motivation came from a spiritual, emotional and dedicated commitment to do what is right. Similarly, a fast may be undertaken for God because it represents a lofty act, a selfless commitment to an act considered meritorious and virtuous.
Fasting calls us to turn away from food. Fasting calls us to redivert our attention back to the things of God and His commandments. Fasting calls us to face and overcome the devil's call: "Has God really said you can't have this?" Fasting calls us to abstain from all things harmful for us, and in most cases, from all food for a period of time. The devil's insistent question is likely to become very loud in our minds as we begin a fast: "Has God really said you can't eat? Not anything? Not the things you love the most? Has God really called you to fast- to abstain totally from this thing that you have labeled as 'good'?"
Fasting sounds so simple, and yet the world, our flesh, and the devil conspire to introduce all sorts of complications that keep it from happening. In view of helping you start down the slow path to good fasting, here are six simple pieces of advice. These suggestions might seem pedantic, but the hope is that such basic counsel can serve those who are new at fasting or have never seriously tried it.
Current research on intermittent fasting – the general term for diets like 5:2 – suggests that the approach is at least as effective as ‘normal’ dieting. Further research is investigating potential benefits in terms of blood sugar, and the ‘inflammatory response’ in the body that is a factor in many medical conditions, including cardiovascular disease, cancer and dementia.
In 2012, Carolyn Corbin, who lives in the Channel Islands, got some firsthand experience with fasting’s flexibility. At 5 feet, 2 inches tall and 159 pounds, Corbin was overweight, with a BMI of 29.1. After seeing Mosley’s BBC show, she took up the 5:2 regimen, eating 500 calories two days a week and eating normally the rest of the time. She soon switched to water-only fasts two days a week. Since taking up the practice, the 65-year-old has lost 35 pounds and kept it off. “Forget calorie counting, diet food and diet drinks,” Corbin says. “Fasting for weight loss works.”
When obese people structured their schedule so that they fasted for 16 hours a day, but were free to eat whatever they wanted in the other eight hours — known as the 16:8 diet, or time-restricted feeding — they modestly lost weight and lowered their blood pressure after 12 weeks on the regimen, a new early study published in the journal Nutrition and Healthy Aging found.
Fasting can take some time to get used to, as your body sheds old habits and learns new ones. But listen to your body! If you’re in hour 10 of 16 hours of fasting and feel like you absolutely need a snack, then have one. If your fasting time is up but you’re not hungry yet, wait until you are. There are no hard and fast rules here. You’re not “messing up.” You might find it helpful to jot down a sentence or two each day about how you felt; you might find that certain times of the month or year, different types of fasts work better for you.
Based on my experience, 24-hour fasts will get me into ketosis much faster than other methods like the fat fasting technique. To make the fast easier, I generally start my fast about 3–4 hrs before I go to bed the night before your full day fast. That means if I am going to fast all day Sunday, I start the fast on Saturday night right after my final meal. That way when I wake up, I am 11–12 hrs into my fast.
Prayer and fasting is defined as voluntarily going without food in order to focus on prayer and fellowship with God. Prayer and fasting often go hand in hand, but this is not always the case. You can pray without fasting, and fast without prayer. It is when these two activities are combined and dedicated to God's glory that they reach their full effectiveness. Having a dedicated time of prayer and fasting is not a way of manipulating God into doing what you desire. Rather, it is simply forcing yourself to focus and rely on God for the strength, provision, and wisdom you need.
Wesley Duewel, a twentieth-century writer, said, “You and I have no more right to omit fasting because we feel no special emotional prompting than we have a right to omit prayer, Bible reading, or assembling with God’s children for lack of some special emotional prompting. Fasting is just as biblical and normal a part of a spiritual walk of obedience with God as are these others.”
While not yet proven in humans, early studies in rats seem to link intermittent fasting with increased longevity. One study found that intermittent fasting decreased body weight and increased the life span in rats (6). Another found that a group of mice who fasted intermittently actually lived longer than the control group, although they were heavier than the non-fasting mice. (7) Of course, it’s not clear that the same results would happen in humans, but the signs are encouraging.
Embrace a healthy body image. Reject the dualistic way of thinking about people’s bodies that’s so popular in our culture. Your body and spirit aren’t two separate entities; they’re united as one whole. When you understand the profound connections between your body and spirit, it will become natural for you to respond to spiritual experiences by doing something physical like fasting.
In the Bahá'í Faith, fasting is observed from sunrise to sunset during the Bahá'í month of 'Ala' ( 1 or 2 March – 19 or 20 March). Bahá'u'lláh established the guidelines in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. It is the complete abstaining from both food and drink during daylight hours (including abstaining from smoking). Consumption of prescribed medications is not restricted. Observing the fast is an individual obligation and is binding on Bahá'ís between 15 years (considered the age of maturity) and 70 years old. Exceptions to fasting include individuals younger than 15 or older than 70; those suffering illness; women who are pregnant, nursing, or menstruating; travellers who meet specific criteria; individuals whose profession involves heavy labor and those who are very sick, where fasting would be considered dangerous. For those involved in heavy labor, they are advised to eat in private and generally to have simpler or smaller meals than are normal.