Fasting is a significant spiritual discipline in Christianity, observed by many believers as a way to draw closer to God, seek spiritual clarity, and develop self-control. While fasting is a powerful practice, it is essential to approach it with the right mindset and adhere to certain principles to ensure that it is a meaningful and spiritually enriching experience. In this article, we will explore things to avoid while fasting in Christianity to help you make the most of this sacred practice.
What Not To Do When Fasting?
Avoid Pride and Self-Glorification
One of the most crucial aspects of fasting is maintaining a humble heart. Fasting should not be done to seek recognition or praise from others. In Matthew 6:16-18, Jesus warns against practicing acts of righteousness like fasting to be seen by others. Instead, fast in secret, seeking only God’s approval.
Avoid a Legalistic Approach
Fasting should not become a rigid, legalistic practice. It’s not about earning salvation or God’s favor through your efforts. Instead, view fasting as a voluntary act of devotion and a way to deepen your relationship with God. Legalism can lead to self-righteousness, which goes against the spirit of fasting.
Avoid Neglecting Physical Health
While fasting involves abstaining from food or certain activities, it’s crucial to prioritize your physical health. Avoid extreme or prolonged fasts that could harm your body. Consult with a healthcare professional, especially if you have underlying health conditions. Fasting should never endanger your well-being.
Avoid Negative Attitudes
Fasting is not a time for grumbling, complaining, or exhibiting a negative attitude. Instead, maintain a spirit of gratitude and contentment. In Philippians 2:14-15, believers are encouraged to do everything without grumbling and arguing, which includes the period of fasting.
Fasting should be an authentic expression of your faith. Avoid hypocrisy by ensuring that your inner spiritual life aligns with your external actions. Hypocrisy in fasting can be seen when someone outwardly appears devout but lacks true humility and love in their heart.
Avoid a Lack of Prayer and Meditation
Fasting without prayer and meditation can become an empty ritual. Use the time you would have spent on meals or other activities to engage in prayer, Bible reading, and meditation. Seek God’s guidance, listen to His voice, and reflect on His Word during your fast.
Avoid Overindulgence After Fasting
After a period of fasting, it’s essential not to overindulge in food or other activities. Gradually ease back into your regular routine. Overindulgence can negate the spiritual benefits of fasting and lead to a sense of emptiness or guilt.
Avoid Neglecting Compassion and Justice
Isaiah 58:6-7 reminds us that true fasting should lead to actions of justice, mercy, and compassion. While fasting, consider how you can actively serve others, support the needy, and advocate for justice. Fasting is not just a personal spiritual exercise; it should inspire acts of kindness and love toward others.
Fasting can be physically and mentally challenging, especially during longer fasts. It’s important to avoid impatience and frustration during this time. Understand that spiritual growth is a gradual process, and fasting is just one tool in your journey. Instead of focusing on when your fast will end, concentrate on the spiritual benefits and growth you are experiencing.
Comparison can be a stumbling block in your fasting journey. Each person’s spiritual journey is unique, and the way you fast may differ from others. Avoid comparing your fasting experience or results to someone else’s. Focus on your personal relationship with God and the progress you are making in your faith.
During your fast, take time to examine your heart and address any unresolved issues or feelings of unforgiveness. Jesus emphasizes the importance of forgiveness in Matthew 6:14-15, stating that if we do not forgive others, our heavenly Father will not forgive us. Fasting is an ideal time to seek reconciliation and forgiveness in your relationships.
Avoid a Lack of Preparation
Proper preparation is crucial for a successful fast. Fasting without a plan can lead to difficulties and may not yield the spiritual benefits you desire. Plan your fast carefully, including what type of fast you will undertake, how long it will last, and how you will spiritually prepare for it.
Avoid Neglecting Worship
Fasting should not lead to a neglect of corporate worship and fellowship with other believers. Continue attending church services and participating in communal worship during your fast. Worship can provide strength, encouragement, and a sense of unity with the body of Christ.
Avoid a Focus Solely on Abstinence
While abstaining from food or certain activities is a significant part of fasting, don’t let it become the sole focus. Use your fasting period to deepen your relationship with God, seek His guidance, and draw closer to Him in worship and prayer.
Avoid Legalistic Rules
Fasting should be a personal expression of your faith, not a set of rigid rules to follow. Avoid creating unnecessary rules or restrictions that may lead to legalism. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in your fasting journey, adapting it as necessary to your specific circumstances and needs.
Avoid a Lack of Flexibility
While planning your fast, remain open to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes, God may prompt you to alter the course of your fast or lead you in unexpected directions. Flexibility in your fasting approach allows you to be responsive to divine guidance and experiences.
Avoid Neglecting Your Responsibilities
Fasting should not interfere with your God-given responsibilities. Maintain your commitments to work, family, and other obligations while fasting. Ensure that your fasting practices do not negatively impact your ability to fulfill your duties and responsibilities.
Avoid Seeking Immediate Results
It’s important to remember that the spiritual benefits of fasting may not always be immediately evident. Do not fast solely for quick results or personal gain. Trust that God is at work in your life through fasting, even if you do not see immediate changes. Patience and perseverance are key virtues in fasting.
Fasting can sometimes lead to isolation, as you may withdraw from social activities to maintain your fast. However, avoid isolating yourself from your Christian community or loved ones. Continue to engage with your church and maintain meaningful relationships during your fast.
Avoid Neglecting Self-Reflection
Fasting provides an excellent opportunity for self-reflection and self-examination. Take time to assess your life, attitudes, and areas where you need to grow spiritually. Use this introspective time to seek God’s guidance on personal growth and transformation.
Avoid a Sole Focus on Food
While fasting often involves abstaining from food, do not become fixated solely on the physical aspect of your fast. Shift your focus toward God, seeking a deeper spiritual connection and understanding of His will. The physical act of fasting is a means to a greater spiritual end.
Avoid a “Checklist” Mentality
Fasting should not be reduced to a mere checklist item in your spiritual routine. It is not about accumulating religious achievements but about drawing closer to God. Guard against viewing fasting as a ritual to be completed but rather as a sincere act of devotion.
Avoid a Lack of Gratitude
During your fast, maintain an attitude of gratitude. Even in times of sacrifice and self-denial, remember to thank God for His blessings and provisions. Gratitude helps cultivate a positive and spiritually enriching fasting experience.
Avoid Excessive Self-Criticism
Fasting can be spiritually challenging, and you might encounter moments of weakness or struggle. It’s important not to be overly critical of yourself during these times. Remember that fasting is about growth and drawing closer to God, and setbacks can be part of the journey. Seek God’s strength and grace to persevere through difficult moments.
Avoid Neglecting Worship Music and Scripture
Incorporate worship music and scripture into your fasting routine. Listening to Christian hymns, songs, and reading the Bible can help you stay focused on God’s presence and promises. It can be a source of encouragement and inspiration during your fast.
Avoid Harboring Resentment
Fasting is an excellent opportunity to work on forgiveness and reconciliation. Avoid harboring feelings of resentment or anger towards others. Use this time to pray for those you may have conflicts with and seek reconciliation where possible.
Avoid Neglecting Acts of Service
Engage in acts of service and kindness to others during your fast. Serving others is a tangible expression of your faith and a way to mirror Christ’s love. These acts can include volunteering, helping those in need, or simply offering a listening ear to someone going through a tough time.
Avoid Rushing the End of Your Fast
As your fasting period comes to an end, avoid rushing back into your regular routines and meals. Take time for reflection, prayer, and gratitude for the spiritual insights and growth you’ve experienced during your fast. Use this transitional period to maintain the spiritual momentum you’ve gained.
Avoid a Sense of Superiority
Fasting should not make you feel spiritually superior to others who may not be fasting. Guard against developing a sense of pride or elitism. Instead, maintain humility and recognize that each person’s spiritual journey is unique.
Avoid Neglecting Your Health Post-Fast
After concluding your fast, ease back into your regular diet and activities gradually. Be mindful of how your body responds and ensure you provide it with proper nutrition and hydration. Remember that fasting is not about harming your body but about nurturing your spirit.
Sometimes, fasting may not result in immediate breakthroughs or profound spiritual experiences. Do not be discouraged if you do not see the results you anticipated. Trust that God is at work in your life, even when the effects are not immediately evident.
Fasting in Christianity is a powerful tool for spiritual growth, self-discipline, and drawing closer to God. However, it is essential to approach fasting with the right heart and attitude. By avoiding pride, legalism, neglect of physical health, negative attitudes, hypocrisy, and other pitfalls, you can experience the full spiritual benefits of fasting. Ultimately, fasting should draw you nearer to God, deepen your faith, and inspire acts of love and service toward others.