Fasting has been a major emphasis in the lives of many of the great spiritual leaders throughout history. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist denomination, fasted every Wednesday and Friday and required all of his clergy to do the same. Effective ministers of God from the apostle Paul to Martin Luther to John Calvin made it a continual part of their walks with God.
None of those men had a “formula fast” that was the only “right” way. Fasting is about the condition of the heart, not the number of days.
In the Bible we read about two types of fast. The two primary types mentioned in the Bible are a partial fast and absolute fast. A partial fast is described in the book of Daniel. Although the water fast seemed to be the custom of the prophet, there was a three-week period in which he only abstained from “delicacies,” meat, and wine (Daniel 10:3).
The Full fast or “absolute” and “supernatural absolute” fasts are total fasts-no food (solid or liquid). Paul went on an absolute fast for three days following his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:9). Moses and Elijah engaged in what must be considered a supernatural absolute fast of forty days (Deuteronomy 9:9; I Kings 19:8). Another popular type of fast is a partial fast which is from 6:00 am to 3:00 pm or from sun up to sundown. You can select from three types of fasting —a Full Fast, Daniel Fast or give up at least one item of food.
Water-only fasts are the common fasts practised, but if it that last for more than several days need to be undertaken with complete rest and under medical supervision because of the extreme danger of over-toxification, breakdown of vital body tissues, and loss of electrolytes.
There is also a water and juice fast, this type of fast will provide you with more energy than absolute or water-only fasts and still lead you into the humbling experience of denying your desire for solid food that you can chew.
When it comes to making your final decision about what type of fast is right for you. Remember, the most important consideration in fasting is your motive. Sam Storm wriites ‘If at any point, while fasting, you find yourself thinking, “God will love me more…God will surely be impressed with me now!” get in your car and go eat a McDonald’s Quarterpounder! If you are the least way tempted to believe, “God will bless me more…He will have no choice but to regard my righteousness!” go eat the biggest greasiest pizza you can find! If it crosses your mind, “I’m better than others who don’t fast, and I sure hope they recognize it as clearly as I do!” go to an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord!’
Why are you fasting? Fasting must always have a spiritual purpose – a God-centered purpose, not a self-centered one- for the Lord to bless our fast. Thoughts of food must prompt thoughts for God. They must not distract us, but instead remind us of our purpose. Rather than focusing the mind on food, we should use the desire to eat as a reminder to pray and to reconsider our purpose.