What are the Benefits of Fasting? 15 Reasons to Fast
Or...why should you fast? While fasting is expected in scripture, few Christians today practice the discipline. Unfortunately, it seems like fasting is more accepted in secular culture for its health benefits than in Church culture. Let’s change that, starting with answering the question: What are the benefits of fasting?
While there aren’t any concrete commandments in the Bible to fast, as stated above, there’s an atmosphere of expectation.
Esther called a fast when the Persian leadership targeted the Israelites for destruction.
Jehosaphat declared a fast when enemies drew near to attack Judah. (2 Chronicles 20:2-4)
Ezra, Nehemiah, and Joel spoke of fasting as it served a regular part of Jewish life.
Isaiah confronted the Israelites of fasting improperly - with a selfish heart, rather than in humility. (Isaiah 58) As did Jeremiah.
The Daniel Fast is the most famous from scripture.
Last, but certainly not least, Jesus spoke of and promoted fasting and the early Church practiced fasting as a normal part of Christian life. Do you want to know why fasting is good for your health?The question is not, “Why should you fast?,” but, “Why should you not fast?”
Why Fast? Health Benefits of Fasting
The benefits of fasting on your body, mind, and spirit are immeasurable.
Fasting is a form of worship and expressing your love for God.
Fasting is and always will be in the lifestyle of people who truly want to hear from God. However, it’s not an end on its own.
So why is fasting good for your health? What are fasting benefits for your physical and spiritual health? Here are the many things that fasting does for you:
Physical Benefits of Fasting
The world has discovered the amazing benefits of fasting and many people and organizations have developed programs for fasting.
Numerous studies have provided ample evidence that fasting provides various health benefits.
God created our bodies to experience regular breaks from eating (and other worldly pleasures). This is one more area where science and knowledge line up with God’s principles for healthy living.
So, what are the physical benefits of fasting?
2. Improves metabolism.
3. Helps lower blood sugar.
4. Reduces risks of inflammation.
5. Helps remove toxins and damaged cells.
6. Helps lower cancer risk.
7. Improves mental health.
8. Protects against diabetes, heart disease, and diminishing cognitive function.
9. Slows the aging process.
10. Helps turn on stem cells.
11. Is pivotal to weight loss.
12. Boosts the immune system.
13. Improves digestion.
14. Eliminates cravings.
15. Aids clearer thinking and emotional stability.
I discuss more about the benefits of fasting in this video. Check it out to learn more!
Which benefit are you most excited about? Write it down and keep it where you can see it several times a day. As you prepare for a fast and walk through it, keeping the benefits in the forefront of your mind will help on long, difficult days.
Weight loss is often a positive result, but shouldn’t be the main focus. There are so many other health benefits your body will rejoice in.
Is Fasting Hard to Do?
As with many things that are in our best interest, fasting is work and comes with challenges! Don’t walk into it thinking it’ll be a piece of cake.
The more you fast, the more the body becomes accustomed to it and the more benefits will outweigh the sacrifices.
The world has adopted fasting as a health benefit, yet fasting is ultimately meant for spiritual purposes.
Spiritual Benefits of Fasting
Fasting, as described and referenced in the Bible, aims to draw us closer to God.
Prayer should accompany fasting, as we spend time with the Lord instead of on food (or television, social media, or other worldly distractions).
Every time our bodies experience a craving for food or some other comfort, we’re reminded of our need to spend time with God.
Fasting taps you into the power of God to gain freedom from bondage of sin, depression, conflict, and many other problems that creep up and take over. It helps you resist evil, debilitating thoughts, and temptation.
2. Fasting allows you to hear from God.
Are you seeking divine guidance, revelation, or an answer to a specific problem? For reasons unknown to our finite minds, fasting opens the corridor to hearing the Lord wide open. It’s often through fasting that one achieves clarity and direction that's otherwise elusive.
3. It helps you achieve a greater level of self-control.
Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, but we often dampen this gift by choosing our flesh over the Spirit. Fasting allows us to practice defeat over our fleshly desires and replace indulgence with spiritual strength.
4. Fasting strengthens your relationship with God.
Physically, fasting heals your cells. Spiritually, it renews your mind. Overall, fasting is truly beneficial to health. It removes damaged cells, damaged thoughts, and increases joy and peace.
5. Fasting draws you closer to the Lord
Fasting eliminates distractions that keep us from spending more time and more quality time with God. When we're free from things that interfere and interrupt our time with the Lord, we experience a more intimate walk with Him.
How to Prepare for a Fast
1. Determine the length of your fast.
Traditionally, fasting is measured from sunset to sunset. They can be as short as 24 hours and as long as 40 days. Of course, if you’re doing a liquid or water-only fast, these would gravitate to the shorter fast versus a longer one.
(Always consult a medical professional when doing a water-only fast or if you have medical conditions impacted by drastic changes in diet, no matter the period of time you decide upon.)
2. Determine what to fast.
Some fasts go without solid foods or anything with calories (water-only fast). A liquid fast includes milk, broth, juice, and fruit and vegetable only smoothies.
Other fasts eliminate meats, dairy, grains, and/or everything except fruits and vegetables.
Some people choose fasting from something other than or addition to foods, such as television, social media, or other time-stealers. These will still provide spiritual benefit, but not the physical benefits (except perhaps in the area of focus and self-control).
3. Determine who should know.
As recorded in Matthew, Jesus discusses how to fast.
“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. Matthew 6:16-18
However, if you’re fasting someone is likely to notice. Your family, coworkers, friends. What we don’t want to do is advertise our fast for accolades.
Sometimes, it’s beneficial to have someone join you. On occasion, people will fast as a group. This is especially helpful on longer fasts to share encouragement.
It makes perfect sense that your family joins on a fast. It’s a wonderful opportunity to teach your children and grandchildren about fasting as you experience spiritual growth together.
Here is a video on how to teach kids truths about the Daniel fast.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting: Get Started Today!
While we haven’t talked about specific timeframes for fasting or how often to fast, these health benefits - physical and spiritual - are linked to a single fast, but also to intermittent fasting.
What does that mean? Intermittent means to fast on a regular basis. Whether that’s once a week for a day, once a month for 2-5 days, (short-term fasting) or once a year for 21-40 days (long-term fasting).
If you want better health overall, equip your body to cope with chronic diseases, improved brain function and heart health, and lower body fat and better weight control, this is a great practice to start.
Fasting can help in all these areas and may help in even more.
Get started today with fasting to achieve physical and spiritual health!
Are you ready to start fasting?
Check out my other resources on fasting included here.
Here are 5 additional everyday healthy living tips on that will prepare your body for fasting:
1. Avoid sugars and refined grains.
2. Let your body burn fat between meals.
3. Consider incorporating intermittent fasting.
4. Avoid snacking.
5. Eat a healthy diet.
If your body has less to detox from, your fast will be a much more pleasant experience.
Plus, health is not an occasional practice of severe restrictions and limited food. Health is learning to live every day with an aim to benefit our bodies as God made them with the foods He gave us to maintain and heal them.
What's your experience with fasting? How has it helped you? Let me know in the comments below!