If you are led to go on a spiritual fast — that’s awesome; you are taking a step in the right direction.
You might be confused about what things to avoid during fasting and praying? What to do and what not to do during fasting? Or what foods to eat while fasting and praying? Then look no further; these questions will be answered right here.
In Matthew 6:16, Jesus says, “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do”. He did not say if you fast; he said when. Therefore, it is expected of all followers of Jesus to engage in biblical fasting.
Jesus himself fasted for forty days and nights. Fasting is a spiritual responsibility for every believer. It is not for a certain few or those who have achieved some high level of spirituality. It is for every Christian and every follower of Christ.
Fasting is not a strange concept to most of us; people fast for various reasons, some for Self-discipline, others for health but primarily for spiritual reasons.
All types of fasting require sacrifice, most times, this would involve abstaining from food and drink for a period of time, but some also sacrifice things that occupy their time or whatever might be taking them away from the presence of God.
Throughout the bible, we have examples of people who have fasted from the old to the New Testament for various reasons; some of these reasons include
- Forgiveness of sin, repentance, and restitution, e.g., David, when God’s judgment came upon him for killing Uriah and marrying his wife.
- Guidance and direction from God. Acts 13:2
- To humble themselves before God. Psalm 69:10
- To express their sorrow and grief. 2Sam 1:12
- To improve their relationship with God and to spend time in his presence. Luke 2:37
- For prayers of intercession and to lay their requests before God.
What Foods To Eat While Fasting And Praying?
The type of food you eat during fasting is dependent on the type of fast you engage in. Each type of fast has it’s rules and what it allows for those who partake in them. Some examples of these kinds of fasts and what they allow include:
1. Lent: This lasts for 40 days; during Lent, Catholics are to avoid eating their favorite food, and they also are not permitted to eat meat on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays during the duration of their fast.
2. Daniel Fast: This is a 21 day fast that allows only a plant-based diet; you are allowed to eat fruits, whole grains, vegetables, plant-based spices, oil, and nuts, but you are not allowed to eat fish, animal products, wine, and pastries.
3. White Fasting: It is similar to the Daniel fast but more stringent. In this fast, people abstain from anything with salt, pepper, oil, flour and sugar.
4. Dry Fasting: This fast is the most stringent type and involves no food or drink for 24 hours or more.
You can also decide to do a regular fast where you can eat any food of your choice after you break your fast. You can choose to break your fast by 12 pm, 3 pm, 6 pm, 9 pm or anytime God gives you the grace to persevere too.
Prayer and Fasting go hand in hand. While your prayer alone is enough for God to hear your voice; the combination of prayer and fasting propels the hand of God.
It informs heaven that this is an urgent matter that needs to be solved. There are some “kinds” of battles we will face in our Christian journey that will not go except through prayer and fasting.
In Matthew 17: 14-21, the disciples ask Jesus why they could not heal a man with an epileptic son, and Jesus tells them that it was due to their unbelief.
He says that if they have faith, they will be able to move mountains; however, after this, he says in verse 17, “But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting”. Therefore, to win this kind of battle against the devil and his demons, you need a combination of Faith, Prayer, and Fasting.
You should also know that fasting is not merely for times of trouble or crisis. It is an opportunity to revive our souls and hunger for God the same way we hunger for food. It is a chance to be in the presence of God, to be humble before him, and to hear his voice.
Imagine you had a friend that only said Hello when they were in trouble, and after they get your assistance, they forget about you again.
You would soon grow tired of such friendship, wouldn’t you? A relationship with God is a two-way process. We speak to him, and we also listen to his will for our lives.
Now that we know that Fasting and praying is a duty for all of us as children of God, we should also know the things to avoid when fasting and praying, what to do, and what not to do during fasting? And what is allowed during biblical fasting?
10 Things To Avoid When Fasting And Praying
1. Avoid Looking Gloomy
One of the first things to avoid when fasting and praying is looking gloomy. The bible says in Matthew 6:16, “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others.
Truly, I say to you. They have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
” You are not fasting to be praised by others on your high level of self-discipline or spirituality, but you are fasting to pour your heart to God, to humble yourself before him, and receive from him.
The bible even goes a step further and tells us to anoint our heads and wash our faces to look even more radiant when we fast.
When next you fast, make sure you pick your best clothes, look beautiful and bright because everything God created was wonderfully and beautifully made.
2. Avoid Poor Bible Study Habits
This is something you should avoid even when you are not fasting. Every Christian should take time every day to study the word of God.
The scriptures are written for our correction, instruction, and encouragement, and there is a message for you every day. You should not only read the Bible, but you study it in-depth and meditate on it.
When reading for a test, you don’t simply skim through and close the book. You take notes and study by repeating some parts of the textbook; over and over so it can be retained in your memory.
You should read the bible the same way you read for an important test by memorizing scriptures and taking notes. Psalm 119:11 says I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
If you don’t study God’s word and store it in your heart, you are at risk of sinning against God. You can also read devotionals and spiritual books written by Holy Spirit-inspired authors to boost your faith and increase your spiritual growth.
3. Avoid Listening/Watching Secular Media
Have you ever closed your eyes to pray, and your mind flashes through some lovemaking scene you saw in a movie you just watched? Well, it happens to a good number of us.
It might be challenging to avoid secular films altogether, but you have to be careful of the content you expose your heart to; movies or music with sensual content, violence, nudity, and other strong themes are not advised for a Christian talk more of Christian fasting.
Some of these movies even make jokes and take jabs at Christianity. Your fasting period is a time to present yourself as a living sacrifice to God and dedicate yourself to him, worshipping him and being in his presence.
4. Avoid Repetitive Babbling When Praying
But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking” (Matthew 6:7, KJV). Jesus tells us not to babble on or say the exact words repeatedly for no reason.
When praying, some people repeat the exact words continually, like they are chanting to a god, increasing the volume of their voice each time they say their chant.
They religiously say the exact words without understanding what they are saying or knowing the meaning behind them. Don’t pray to God like you are praying to an idol with incantation-like chants.
When you fast and pray, believe that God hears you and believe that he will answer you. Know that he knows your need before you ask them. If you need guidance, there are tons of prayer points in books and blogs to help you.
5. Avoid Fasting Without Praying
This might be rather obvious, but it is one of the most important things to avoid when fasting and praying. Fasting without praying is intermittent fasting, dieting, and a weight loss program.
In a biblical fast, it is vital to pray and at multiple times too. Matthew 6:7 says, “But when ye pray use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do…”
In the Bible verse above, Jesus uses the word WHEN again. Prayer is another spiritual responsibility for every Christian. It is expected for all children of God to pray and to pray without ceasing.
As believers, we have a certain confidence in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us and answers us. As you pray, back up your prayers with the word of God. Your prayers will be answered in Jesus’ name.
6. Avoid Praying Without Thanksgiving
Now that you know how important prayer is during fasting; you should also know that when you pray, you must give thanks to God; prayer without thanksgiving is incomplete.
Whenever you do something nice for someone, you expect a thank you from them, it simple courtesy. God expects us to say thank you to him too. God loves praises, and he inhabits in the praises of his people.
Praise is a powerful tool in the hands of believers; there are many examples in the Bible of people who were delivered by their praises alone. Paul and Silas were chained in a well-guarded prison, but they praised God at midnight, and the chains were loosed.
Another example is King Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah. They praised the Lord on their way to battle with the people of Amon, Moab, and Edom. These people were a mighty army, much more prominent and brutal than the people of Judah.
It seemed like an impossible situation for them. Still, God set ambushes for the Ammonites, Moabites, and Edomites, and they turned against each other and fought themselves to death, without the people of Judah doing anything.
7. Avoid Public Attention
Jesus says in Matthew 6:5-6, “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men.
I tell you the truth. They have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
When fasting and praying, do not bring public attention to yourself. At a quiet time, pray in private to the Lord.
Some pray for the wrong reasons; they want their prayer to be heard by others and to be praised by them. Do not be like these people; pray with the right heart, and your Father who sees in secret will answer you speedily.
8. Avoid Committing Sin
This might seem obvious, but it is also important to consider as one of the things to avoid when fasting and praying.
The bible says the prayer of a sinner is an abomination before God, and in 1 Peter 3:12, we are informed that the Lord is attentive to the prayer of the RIGHTEOUS, not the unrighteous but the righteous. If you are engaging in sin while fasting, you are wasting your time; your prayer will not reach God.
The only way to access God and become a partaker of his kingdom is through genuine repentance. Still, the good news I have for you today is salvation is free, and it is for all.“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” I John 1:9.
9. Avoid Doubting God
Apart from sin, another way to waste your time during prayer is by doubting God. James 1: 6-8 says, but he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.
For that person ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
When you doubt God, you doubt his power and his ability to save you; you make the God that created the whole universe smaller than your problem.
So, according to the bible, you will not receive anything from God. However, if you have faith with prayer and fasting; if you say to a mountain move, that mountain will move.
10. Avoid Sensual Activity
The last point on our list of things to avoid when fasting and praying is to avoid sensual activity. Of course, this goes without saying; intercourse is for married couples alone.
It was created for pleasure in marriage and to bring couples together. But during the hours with which you are fasting, married couples should avoid lovemaking to dedicate time and energy to prayer and being in the presence of God.
After the fast has been broken, they can go back to satisfy their desires. Paul emphasizes that this should be for a limited time to avoid temptation and sin.
1 Corinthians 7:5 Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer, but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
What Should I Abstain From When Fasting?
This Bible verse in Isiah 58: 3-10 precisely summarises the things to avoid when fasting and praying and what God expects from us. In this verse, the Israelites wonder why God does not see or accept their fasting and prayer, and Isiah explains why.
“You wonder why the Lord pays no attention when you go without eating and act humble. But on those same days that you give up eating, you think only of yourselves and abuse your workers. You even get angry and ready to fight. No wonder God won’t listen to your prayers!”
For your fast to honor God, you need to completely surrender your life to Christ and repent genuinely. May God give you the grace to do so in Jesus name. (Amen)
Save this for later!