THE TYPE OF FAST YOU CHOOSE IS BETWEEN YOU AND GOD. HE WILL HONOR YOUR BEST SACRIFICE.
TYPES OF FASTS
Full Fast – Drink only liquids (you establish the number of days as you are led by the Lord).
3-Day Fast – This fast can be a full fast, a Daniel fast, or give up at least one item of food for 3 days.
Partial Fast – A partial fast can be from 6:00 am to 5:00 pm, from sun up to sundown, giving up certain meals, or giving up one type of food for 21 days.
The Daniel Fast – Eat no meat, no sweets and no bread. Drink water and juice. Eat fruits and vegetables (more information to follow).
Social Media Fast – Fast for 21 days or for a length of time that feels like a sacrifice. There are many ways to approach a Social Media Fast; you may abstain from viewing all forms of social media, posting comments, stories, or photos, or you can choose only certain forms from which to abstain. Only you and the Lord know what forms of social media pose the most risk of distraction for you.
Scripture References for Fasting: Matthew 6:16-18, Matthew 9:14-15, Luke 18:9-14.
Relation to Prayer and Reading of the Word:
1 Samuel 1:6-8, 17-18, Nehemiah 1:4, Daniel 9:3, 20, Joel 2:12, Luke 2:37, Acts 10:30, Acts 13:2
1 Samuel 7:5-6, Ezra 8:21-23, Nehemiah 9:1-3, Joel 2:15-16, Jonah 3:5-10, Acts 27:33-37
Remember that it is the attitude of a heart sincerely seeking Him to which God responds with a blessing (Isaiah 58, Jeremiah 14:12, 1 Corinthians 8:8).
Step 1: Be Specific Daniel was not vague in his objection to the Babylonian diet. He defined the problem immediately.
- The king’s food was against dietary laws.
- Daniel and his friends had vowed against wine.
- The king’s food had been offered up to idols/demons.
Step 2: Fast as a Spiritual Commitment
The Daniel Fast involves a spiritual commitment to God. “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself” (Daniel 1:8).
Step 3: Reflect Inner Desire by Outer Discipline
Many people have an inner desire for better health, but they can’t discipline themselves to avoid junk food, and other foods that are not good for their health. The physical health you seek from God may be more than an answer to prayer. Your physical health can be linked to any of the following factors:
- Your food choices.
- The level of your spiritual commitment as reflected in constant prayer during the fast.
- Your time commitment. If you determine to fast for a certain time, keep it. For example, if you determine to fast 10 days, don’t stop on Day 9.
- Your faith commitment. Your fast is a statement of faith to God that you want Him to heal your body, and faith is foundational to the Daniel Fast.
Step 4: Pray to Perceive Sin’s Role in Poor Health Notice James 5:13-16:
- Sin is often related to the cause of sickness.
- Lack of health/healing may be the result of spiritual rebellion.
- Lack of health/healing may be due to sin of wrong intake, i.e. drugs, pornography.
- Repentance is linked to health according to James.
- Elders have a role in healing both spiritual and physical health.
- Sick people must desire to be well.
- The anointing oil could mean:
- Medicine for healing
- Symbolic of the Holy Spirit
- Prayer alone may not lead to healing, faith is the major factor.
- In Greek there are several words for “sick”. James uses “Kanino”, which not only includes disease, but also means weak or weary.
- Attitude is important. James said, “are there any among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.”
Step 5: Fast as a Statement of Faith to Others
Daniel was making a statement of faith when he asked for only vegetables to eat and water to drink, then asked the overseer to compare the appearance of the four sons of Israel with the young men who ate the king’s food.
Step 6: Learn the Effects of the Food You Eat
Why are some foods good for us, and other foods not? What does certain food do to your body? If we really knew, there would likely be some things we would never eat again.
Step 7: Yield All Results to God
Daniel said, “as you see fit, deal with your servants” (Dan. 1:13).
FOOD GUIDELINES FOR A DANIEL FAST
Foods You May Eat:
- Whole Grains:
brown rice, oats, barley
dried beans, pinto beans, split peas, lentils, black eyed peas
apples, apricots, bananas, blackberries, blueberries, boysenberries, cantaloupe, cherries, cranberries, figs, grapefruit, grapes, guava, honeydew melon, kiwi, lemons, limes, mangoes, nectarines, papayas, peaches, pears, pineapples, plums, prunes, raisins, raspberries, strawberries, tangelos, tangerines, watermelon
artichokes, asparagus, beets, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chili peppers, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, gingerroot, kale, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, mustard greens, okra, onions, parsley, potatoes, radishes, rutabagas, scallions, spinach, sprouts, squashes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, turnips, watercress, yams, zucchini, veggie burgers are an option if you are not allergic to soy.
spring water, distilled water, 100% all-natural fruit juices, 100% all natural vegetable juices. You may also drink protein drinks.
seeds, nuts, sprouts
Foods to Avoid:
- White rice
- Fried foods
- Carbonated beverages
- Foods containing preservatives or additives
- Refined sugar
- Sugar substitutes
- White flour and all products containing white flour
- Margarine, shortening, high fat products
- The Daniel Fast will lead to spiritual insight. “to those four young men God gave knowledge.”
- The Daniel Fast is longer than one day. These young men fasted for ten days.
- The Daniel Fast is a partial fast. They ate, but only vegetables and water.
- The Daniel Fast requires abstinence from party or junk foods.
- There is no indication that they ever began to eat the king’s food.
SOCIAL MEDIA FAST
The emphasis for fasting, as noted previously, is not necessarily because food or another factor is inherently harmful or bad, but because we want to ensure that we are intentional in our practice to do all for the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31; Col. 3:17) and cast off anything and everything that prevents or distracts us from achieving our prize of likeness to Christ Jesus (Phil 3:10-12; Heb. 12:1-3). We need to evaluate each behavior or opportunity against whether it is helpful or enslaves (1 Cor. 6:12). The internet in general and social media, in particular, can ensnare and enslave us because we are designed as creatures of desire. God created us to crave relationships; we were made for relationship with Him and one another (Gen. 2:18).
Our brains are wired to pursue pleasure and reward, repeating behaviors that produce dopamine. Technology distorts and then enslaves us primarily because of these inherent drives for novelty and connection. All of life is a balancing of choices about priorities and time. Time is our most precious commodity and one of the few resources that is truly limited. Social media can be harmful because it distorts our presentation and experiences of reality, priority, relationship, and rhythm. When our use of social media controls us instead of us controlling our use of social media, we become enslaved and our priorities distort to feed this new master.
FIVE REASONS TO DO A SOCIAL MEDIA FAST
Reason 1: To Reorient Our Source of Truth
We tend to believe what we see, and repetition simply reinforces the assurance of our beliefs. Social media intends to provide a venue from which a person can present their perspective of the world as true and real, directing others to see life through his or her eyes and understanding. Designed to connect people by interests and experiences, social media defines reality based on the perspective of the viewer. Truth then becomes relative. Social media strengthens individual perceptions of reality, which may reinforce biases and create division (“us versus them”). In an age of information overload and identity confusion, how do we know what is true and what sources can be trusted about ourselves and the world around us?
We need to stop to reorient ourselves to the Truth by filling our hearts and minds first with what God says, so we can accurately define what is real and just and true. In the same way that the Department of Treasury trains its officials to identify counterfeit money through repeated exposure to real money (not all the variety of fakes), as followers of Christ we must saturate our hearts and minds with the truth of God in His Word, to apprehend the truth about ourselves and others so these counterfeits won’t confuse or distort us. Time is limited and we must prioritize. Our first reason to fast from social media is to intentionally prioritize time in God’s Word and with God’s people to reorient ourselves to truth and purpose.
Reason 2: To Practice Our Priorities
This second reason is dependent on the first as a primary priority of aligning our source of truth with God’s Word but expands to include the priorities of relationship, identity, and time that flow from an accurate understanding of ourselves and the world as defined by God’s Word. We are created for relationship and the irony of social media is that while we are more connected as a society than we have ever been in human history, we are also the loneliest we have ever been at the same time! Connections and community found in social relationships are not the same as likes, shares, and friends on social media. The stories of real life connect us in community with others, drawing us into the larger story of God’s love for the world and our significance and insignificance within this larger context. Jesus proclaimed, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:37-40). These first two reasons demonstrate our alignment with Jesus’ commandments. We prioritize relationship to God through love for Him and His Word and demonstrate our love for others through face-to-face contact across the reality of life lived in community. Social media can’t compensate for, or replace ‘in-person’ with another human being. We were created for relationship with others in community.
Reason 3: To Challenge Our Comfort Zones
Social media fosters our sense of autonomy and control while providing a means of presenting ourselves to others based on the way we would like to be perceived. Relationships in life require a certain amount of vulnerability, and social media allows us to relate to each other without risk. Fasting from social media would require us to face the discomfort and boredom we experience when riding in an elevator or waiting in line, pushing us outside the protective bubble of comfort to exhibit God’s love in seeing and responding to another person as made in His image. As the body of Christ, we are God’s hands and feet through the power of the Holy Spirit in this world to demonstrate His love (John 13:35). The first step to loving others is to see them, to be present, and engaged beyond our comfort (Gen. 16:13). In order to grow, we must move beyond our comfort through discomfort into growth.
Reason 4: To Experience Freedom through Discipline
As Paul proposed, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12). We fast from social media to strengthen our sense of discipline, pushing back against our tendency toward addiction to pleasure and comfort. Technology and social media have been shown to reduce our attention span and impact our thought processes over time. Challenging our comfort zones requires a willingness to reorient our truth and practice our priorities.
We won’t know the degree of freedom or enslavement social media has over us or we have over it until we attempt to discipline our use of it. Freedom requires discipline. If we desire to be free to create beautiful music, we must discipline ourselves to practice regularly. If we desire freedom to run and play with our children, we must discipline ourselves in exercise, nutrition, time, and sleep to have sufficient margin for these events. We should do a social media fast so we can experience the freedom of living unburdened from the lens and filter of social media on us and on the world around us.
Reason 5: To Establish Healthy Rhythms in Life
Life follows patterns and rhythms and God designed us to align with His rhythm of days, weeks, seasons, and years (Gen. 20:9-11). We live in a 24/7 world with social media and technology constantly bombarding us with news and information that seems urgent. Electronic device use, specifically social media, is correlated with depression, anxiety, and suicidality for everyone, but especially for adolescents (Lukianoff & Haidt, 2018; Twenge, 2017). As we have noted, time is our most precious commodity and social media seems to most negatively impact our sleep as we struggle to stop the scroll. Fasting from social media allows us to evaluate our current habits and rhythms, providing the opportunity to better prioritize our time to promote time with God, relationships with others, sleep, nutrition, exercise, and mental health. We live in a unique age of limitless opportunity, in which we have access to both things that are helpful and things that enslave. Social media presents many opportunities to share what is good and demonstrate God’s love to the world, but social media can also distort our perceptions of truth, relationship, comfort, freedom, and rhythm until we are enslaved by it. Fasting provides an opportunity to change our priorities and flex our muscles of discipline, reorienting our time and desires back to what is best above what is good.
7 BENEFITS TO A MEDIA FAST
1. Clearer Mind
” Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Constant posts and scrolling through your news feeds can really make your mind feel jumbled and often takes away from truly honoring God through the respect of honoring yourself.
2. More Time
” Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” Ephesians 5:15-17
Each day that we wake up we should be rejoicing to our Lord to be alive!
We are here another day for a God-given purpose and that purpose isn’t to go to work, then become distracted by the constant social media we have access to from our phones and computers, only to return home and wind-down by watching 3 hours of Netflix.
3. Experience Life In The Moment
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
4. Better Sleep
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28
Studies have shown that the use of a screen prior to bed can cause great disruption of sleep and the longer you are on them prior to attempting to fall asleep, the longer it will take to actually fall asleep.
A good night of rest is a great starting point for a new day, without quality sleep so many areas of our lives can be directly affected.
5. Stronger Relationships
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17
We live in an age where many of our so-called “relationships” are just an illusion. We hoard ourselves a pile of “friends” that we have collected by simply clicking a button and though many of us have hundreds of social media friends, loneliness has become an epidemic all over the world.
Though we are interacting with people through our phones hundreds of times a day, most of us have very few meaningful interactions with people on a daily basis. This has been one of the greatest benefits of our media fast thus far. Meaningful interaction. Not just between ourselves but with other people we come into contact with as well.
We were created for relationship with our Heavenly Father and with each other, a media fast is an awesome way to get away from faux relationships and back to the real thing!
6. A Reappreciation For What You Have
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:12-13
When we are spending so much time on the internet browsing social media or watching YouTube, it’s hard not to fall into a consumer mindset. Businesses use these platforms to entice us into buying their goods and let’s be honest, it works. This mindset is easily overcome through a media fast.
When you learn to be completely content through Christ, the weight, and anxieties that tag along a life preoccupied with material things falls away. This is such a truly freeing feeling. As the spirit sweeps through and fills you with that inexpressible and glorious joy, you can’t help but wonder how you ever thought something else could fill this void.
7. Stronger Focus On God
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” – Hebrews 12:1-2
Saving the best for last, the greatest benefit of a media fast is a stronger focus on God. Even for those of us who live kingdom minded lives, it can be so easy to get distracted from the race marked out for us. When we slip out of focus with God, we see it in our lives and so does the world, we become easily agitated, we feel busy and anxious. All of these things are not only detrimental to ourselves but to our relationships and to our testimony.
As we mature in our faith, we begin to see that any focus that is not fully on Jesus is completely out of focus. We need to be in the word, growing and maturing so that we can better serve the kingdom and better enjoy this abundant life that Jesus died to give us. If you are digging into the word but still find yourself not growing spiritually, the greatest thing you can do is re-evaluate your focus. A media fast is an awesome way to do that and you will start seeing the fruit of it right away!
May God greatly bless you as you fast!