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People generally practice fasting for either health or spiritual reasons. Both have rewards if done correctly. Spiritual reasons for fasting often depend on the word of God, for its strength. The spiritual impetus for a fast is dependent on what Jesus said in Luke 5:35, “But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.” These are the days Jesus Christ spoke about. We fast for spiritual reasons, and physical benefits also follow it, according to Isaiah 58:6-11; study these scripture verses if you are thinking about a fast. We all need to fast now more than ever. Sister Sommerville in the 1960’s (Franklin Hall, reported) at the age of eighty three fasted for forty days and nights. The problem is that many of us are addicted to food, and do not think the sayings of Jesus, applies to us today; but it echoes, “Then shall they fast.”

The number of days you have to fast depends on you and how faithful you have been at doing it. Generally, people fast for a day, three days, seven days, ten days, fourteen days, seventeen days, twenty one days, thirty days , thirty five days  and forty days. You have to be spiritually convinced how long you intend to fast. Consider a fast a period of appointment with the Lord; when you have intimate time with him, devoid of distractions. It is a time to study the bible, confess, praise, pray and worship the Lord. If at all possible avoid contact with regular life activities such as television, radio, phones, visitors and smell of food. Always choose a place to stay for the fast, it should be airy, enough and good source of water. All this depends on the number of days you intend to fast: The longer the fast, the more the preparation to be made.

First things to know are, how long do you intend to fast, what is the purpose of this fast? Are you fasting solo or in company of another? Set your heart in prayer several days before you commence the fast. If possible limit those who need to know about it. You may be surprised that some of these people will be used of the devil unknowingly to pressure you to end it before you want to. Plan for all you may need, such as tooth paste and brush, drinking water (warm water recommended for better internal body cleansing).  Before you start a fast of over three days, it is important to empty your digestive system of old wastes that can cause you weakness, nausea and pain during the fast. So it is good to avoid eating any cooked or processed food at least 48 hours before the fast. Only consume fruits of all kinds but no vegetables. Meat should be avoided 7-10days before a fast of up to 10-40days.Taking the fruits with warm water will help clean you out. Some people like to take laxatives to clean out before a fast of over 3 days. I do not encourage such. Instead use natural fruit juices and some prune juice. `

It is advisable to practice fasting 6pm to 6pm, (which is considered one full day fast) for three to five days and see how you cope, drinking only warm water. Then you do 48hours twice and see how you cope. During these periods set out time to pray every 3-6 hours, with praising God. If you experience headaches or pains, drink more water and rest yourself.  Remember when you are not sleeping to walk around to get your internal organs and muscles active for better functioning and easing weakness.

It is important to understand the role and importance of water in times of fasting. The Lord Jesus Christ did not use water from what we know in the scripture. Moses up on the mountain with God for forty days and nights was with God: food and water was not recorded for him. When a man is before God like Moses was, it is possible not to eat, drink and void. But for us today as is the case with many believers, both past and present, drank water during a fast. Food and water are two entirely different things. Fasting means to do without food completely and does not exclude the use of pure and clean water. Water is in no way stimulating to the body or the appetites. A few days of one to seven days of fast without food and water is possible; but the individual must be sure they are in no medical condition that require extra care. Drink clean water with your fast, water is not food. If you engage in a fast of over five days, you will discover quickly that you begin to struggle with water. This is so because water is no substitute for food; in fact you begin to hate drinking of water. Remember you need to continue drinking warm not cold water. Water drinking helps clean your body and internal organs as your body tries to eject toxins and other poisonous substances out of the body. You also need to have good warm shower to keep the dead tissues and odors cleaned out. Shower as often as you wish if water is available; so that anybody around you will not know that you are on a fast.

Dieting is not fasting and also fasting is not dieting. Please in dealing with the subject of light eating and fasting, please do not be misled into fasting or dieting lightly, if you are undernourished and already half starved. There are some fasting problems that some people may experience. The general issues are perhaps headaches, dizziness, and bad taste in the mouth, weakness and lack of energy. Except for the customary misery of fasting, most fasters many not feel more than one or two of these general problems. You may not have any bowel movement from time to time. That is why you need to consume uncooked food for three to five days with lots of water before starting a fast of 10 to 40 days. Some people do enemas every three to five days to keep the colon free of poisonous wastes.

It is important to cut down on regular eating of cooked and processed foods before a long fast of 14 to 40 days. Consume more of fruits of all kinds to help give your bowel regularity and clean your intestines and colon of wastes. This is necessary because during the first part of the fast great amounts of wastes can overload the kidneys. This is one of the reasons to drink a lot of warm water to help neutralize and clean the body. Also it is absolutely important to always rise out of bed slowly to avoid dizziness. You need to get sufficient rest and if possible take two naps a day. This helps you conserve energy for prayer and praises, focusing on your spiritual life. Always do your best to concentrate on one to seven consolidated prayer points, if you are fasting for over 14 days.

Cramps, weakness and aches are results of built up or caked up wastes in the colon and may cause nausea. Drinking of cold water can cause all these problems. The cold water does not help the wastes to come loose from the walls of the intestine and colon and get flushed out. Warm water all through the fast will help greatly. Sometimes even after 30 to 40 days of the fast you cannot imagine the black mess that will come out of you, shortly after the fast. That is why drinking warm water and periodic enema helps clean you up. One enema weekly is alright but do not double dose. Take walks about two times a day and keep the body active. When hunger tugs at your stomach at the usual time you normally eat, drink warm water. Some people experience diarrhea during a fast. It is part of the cleaning process for some people who may have a lot of putrefaction. An enema may be helpful and drinking of warm water.

Starting and engaging in the fast is the easy part. Breaking the fast is the difficult aspect. You must be careful how you break the fast, else you may need about another three days fast for relief, if you eat wrongly and a problem arises; if you have fasted over 17 to 40 days. Now during the fast you must pray for God to help you break correctly. As a general guide, it may take you the same number of days you fasted, to eat like you did before. Any attempt to break the fast too quickly or rapidly or eat the wrong food may have three effects for a fast of over ten days; the food may just run though the gut and manifest as diarrhea or may cause bloating or constipation.

It is important after a fast to begin eating small meals very slowly with proper chewing in the mouth. The whole digestive system needs several days to adjust from fasting to eating; just like the body needs time during a fast to adjust from eating to not eating.  No matter the mistake you make in breaking wrongly, do not take any laxative after the fast. That is why you must break very cautiously and carefully. If you break wrongly, the best solution is to take a two or three day fast and break again properly. Always avoid milk and dairy products after a fast.

Irrespective of the number of days you fasted, you must be careful to break correctly. The general approach is to drink a lot of water 1- 4 hours before breaking. After your ending prayer, take a glass of 50% warm water and 50% of the fresh orange juice. Then take a walk to allow the body to react to the juice. When you walk back, within one hour take another glass of fresh pure juice with warm water. Rest yourself for about another hour, and then take a warm shower. Do not take more than 4 glasses of juice mixed with warm water in the first 6hours after a fast of over 14 days. One of the best ways is to end your fast in the evening, so that you can take the juice mixed with warm water about three times. Then have a shower and go to bed. By the time you wake up in the morning your digestive system begins to wake up and begin to get ready to start accepting some more juice and less water. Some watery warm soup after about 48 hours may be taken in moderation and in small doses.

As a guide you can return to eating the same kinds of food after the same number of days you fasted is past. But when you are breaking a fast, the first 24 to 48 hours take fresh juice mixed with warm water every 3 hours. After that for the next 48 to 96 hours you can take watery soup but avoid any meats and milk. Then return to breakfast of raw fruits, lunch of salads and supper of vegetable soup with little fish if necessary. This is when to start a new food habit. Avoid harmful food such as sodas, red meats, salt and sugars and processed foods and take more of fruits, vegetables, herbs, nuts and select good sources of protein.

Remember during a spiritual fast, it is considered a period you separate yourself to seek the face of the Lord. Give yourself to studying the word of God, praising God and give yourself to prayer and intercession. Fasting actually involves body or house cleaning; physically and spiritually.  Before the fast food has a lot of control over our appetites of hunger, sex and covetousness; and food often suffocates our spiritual desires. But regular and long fasts have a way of taming the lusts of hunger, sex and covetousness. These easy tools in the hand of the devil pollute the body and that is why we have to bring the body into subjection to obey the word of God and allow for spiritual maturity and power. It takes 4 days during a fast for hunger to leave, 10 to 17 days for doubt and unbelief to start disappearing and in 21 to 40 days you have a complete fast and begin to experience spiritual and physical purification. There is of course weight loss with a complete fast and you must remember two important points at the end of a fast. Firstly, during the fast and after, the devil will attack you in many ways even in your dreams; because it is war in the spirit, do not forget that our Lord was tempted of the devil both during and after the fast, Matthew 4:1-11. Secondly, God will reveal things to you from the bible, in visions and dreams. If the fast is broken properly you will get more revelations from the Lord and answers to your prayers; instead of spending your times repenting from wrong eating and other attacks of the devil after the fast.

Jesus said in Matthew 9:15, “And then shall they fast.” Remember also Isaiah 58:5-9. Wisdom is the principal thing immediately after a fast. You need wisdom to break correctly, absolute self control and definite patience. Do not allow your appetite to be manipulated right after the fast. Use the scriptures, remember Matthew 4:1-10, and in particular verse 4, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread  alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God,” when the devil attacks you with food issues.  This is to remind us that after a fast the devil will tempt us with food and other appetites, but do not fall for it. Jesus Christ gave us the answer to such temptations. Remember Romans 8:37, “ Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us,” Christ Jesus. Do not forget Jesus Christ said, “And then shall they fast.”