As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. (Psalm 42:1)
For the Christian, all foods are gifts from God. We all enjoy eating delicious food. But fasting is a humbling experience. Let us not be discouraged by a headache, nor fatigue. We may start feeling irritable, cranky and frustrated. Skipping meals and feel the discomfort of an empty stomach, we are physically reminded that our lives depend upon God and his grace. And we remember that there are many people in the world who experience hunger on a regular basis. As we spend less money on food during fasting, we could set aside this money for the cost of all the meals we miss, put the money into a jar, and donate it to the Soup Kitchen Ministry.
John Wesley, with his brother Charles Wesley, practiced fasting on both Wednesday and Friday each week as a regular spiritual discipline. Wesley one said that he would not ordain anyone to the Methodist ministry who was unwilling to fast in those days. As time passed, Wesley fasted mostly on Friday which was in continuity with early Christian tradition largely because Jesus was crucified on a Friday. He kept observing fasting from sundown Thursday till 3:00 Friday afternoon.
Prepare physically for the fast. If you are fasting for the first time, you should start off slowly. Start skipping one meal a day. Then the next week, two meals a day. The following week you may skip food for a whole day for 24 hours. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water. There are no fixed rules, but it's always good to try to keep the fast we set out to do.
Determine the length of your fast. Drink plenty of water while fasting, no matter what kind of fast you choose. Make God be the sole focus of your fast. Expect something spiritual to happen. Jesus fasted for forty days before he began his earthly ministry. He fasted and prayed all night before he called the twelve disciples to follow him more closely. As you practice fasting, expect something real to happen.
Let us ask the Holy Spirit to help guide us. Fasting is time for prayer. Whenever we feel a stomachache, let us stop and pray. Fasting is a time of self-emptying to make room for God. Fasting and prayer help us to hear and see what God hears and sees every day.
(If taking any form of medication on a daily basis, consult with your physician for health reasons. You must be sure you are physically able before attempting this discipline. If not, then you may choose a different way of fasting such as avoiding your favorite food)