Summary: TYPES OF FASTS
A fast is abstinence from something -- such as television, movies, or other pleasures and amusements--but usually it means not eating food.
When Jesus was in the desert, He fasted totally, without food. There is no mention that He went without water. Not drinking water would have been life threatening. Anyone who attempts a long fast without an anointing of the Holy Spirit could get into serious physical trouble. The human body can go for up to forty days without food before the organs begin to shut down. However it can only go a few days without water. Extended fasts can be a wonderful time of revelation from God. It isn’t easy, and you must be careful when beginning to eat again or you may get sick.
What most people do now is called a liquid fast. They don’t eat solid foods, but they drink plenty of water and various types of juice.
Then there is Daniel’s fast -- when he ate "no pleasant bread." He and three friends gave up sweets, meat and wine, consuming only vegetables and water--all the while seeking the Lord. (Daniel 1:12-13).
HOW TO FAST
In the first chapter of the book Nehemiah we find outlined everything that is involved in fasting and what you should do during your fast.
Nehemiah was a Prophet and saw a problem with the people of God that caused him to weep because of his concern. He realized that Jerusalem needed to be rebuilt.
Nehemiah was also a lowly cupbearer. A cupbearer was the most trusted person the king had. Since many kings worried about being poisoned, the cupbearer tasted the wine first and if he didn’t die, the king knew the wine was okay to drink.. If you know the story of Nehemiah he went before his king and asked for permission to leave for awhile and go back to help his people. The king actually agreed. So, what does this lowly cupbearer do next? He takes control.
A. Nehemiah begins by: CELEBRATING GOD, WORSHIPING AND PRAISING HIM.
He reminds God of who He is and His character.
"O Lord God," I cried out; "O great and awesome God who keeps his promises and is so loving and kind to those who love and obey him! Hear my prayer!" (Vs. 5 TLB)
You will find through out the Old Testament that this is common in the prayers of great men and woman of God. They sound like they are reminding God of who He is. But why did they do that? God already knows who He is. He does love for us to worship and praise him. This is primarily for us. He wants US to recognize and remember who He is. When we are fasting we need to remember how powerful and loving God is and that He is concerned with all aspects of our lives.
B Nehemiah’s next step is to: CONFESS HIS SINS.
"Listen carefully to what I say! Look down and see me praying night and day for your people Israel. I confess that we have sinned against you; yes, I and my people have committed the horrible sin of not obeying the commandments you gave us through your servant Moses." (Vs. 6 TLB)
We should never under any circumstances go before God and ask Him to work on our behalf if we have sin in our lives. We need to be a clean vessel. We must self-evaluate, confess and repent.
C. Nehemiah then: REMINDS GOD OF HIS PROMISES
"Oh, please remember what you told Moses! You said, ’If you sin, I will scatter you among the nations; but if you return to me and obey my laws, even though you are exiled to the farthest corners of the universe, I will bring you back to Jerusalem. For Jerusalem is the place in which I have chosen to live." (Vs. 8-9 TLB)
We see this over and over again in scripture especially with Moses. Moses would remind God of His past promises. We also can do that because we are God’s children, By using scripture or even promises He may have made directly to us, we can also remind Him of what He has said and promised in the past. Again, this is primarily more for us than for God since God obviously doesn’t forget his promises.
In this case Nehemiah was fasting first and foremost for Israel, interceding on behalf of Israel as he acknowledged their sins as a people.
D. Nehemiah shows an attitude of: HUMILITY
"O Lord, please hear my prayer! Heed the prayers of those of us who delight to honor you. Please help me now as I go in and ask the king for a great favor -- put it into his heart to be kind to me." (I was the king’s cupbearer.)" (Vs. 11 TLB)