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Christian Life

The Teenager’s Guide to Fasting!

The first thing I want to say on the subject of fasting is this: If you struggle with or have struggled with an eating disorder, I strongly caution you against any fasts having to do with food. I will explain how you can still embrace the principle of fasting without involving food later in this article, so don’t worry!

According to the Bible, fasting isn’t optional. In Matthew 6:16, Jesus says, “When you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.”

Jesus doesn’t say “if” you fast, Jesus says “when”. In this verse, Jesus is mostly talking to the Jewish people, but the apostle Paul talks about fasting, too. Paul is not talking to Jewish people, he’s talking to the rest of us.

…As servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger. – 2 Corinthians 6:3-5

Why fast?

We fast simply because when we give up something that we greatly desire, it causes us to fully rely on God for the strength we need to stay away from the thing we’re fasting. You can’t give up something you love by using your strength alone — you must rely on God. Therefore, the principle of fasting is this: Turn to God constantly and rely on Him fully.

What to fast

Keep in mind the principle of fasting as I describe above as you consider what you might want to give up for your fast. Remember: Giving up something that you don’t enjoy anyway kind of defeats the purpose of fasting! Example: If you don’t like doing dishes and you decide to “fast” washing dishes, it isn’t going to bring you closer to God. You won’t  have to rely on God’s strength to keep you from washing dishes!

I don’t recommend liquid only fasts for teens. I do recommend drinking lots of water and even fruit juices. You’re still growing and your bodies are still developing.

Here are other ‘food fasts’ that you could try:

  • Eat mostly fruits & vegetables. Daniel fasted like this. Daniel 1:8-16
  • No sweets. This one explains itself.
  • No caffeine. Ugh! I don’t even like the idea of this fast, but I’ve done it. I recommend starting with a week.

Fasts not involving food:

  • Facebook fast! I did this one for 21 days and it was hard for me, but I made it and so can you!
  • Video Game fast. This includes Playstation, XBox, Nintendo, PC, etc.
  • Music fast. If you listen to a lot of non-Christian music, try fasting. When you feel the need to listen to some music, put on a Christian artist instead.
  • TV and movies fast. My husband and I did this for a month. It’s hard at first, but it gets easier.

If you’re planning a fast, please talk it over with your parents so they know what you’re doing. Set reasonable amounts of time – a few days or a week to start. Also, don’t overdo it! Replace the thing you’re fasting with time spent with God. If you’re fasting TV, then replace your TV time with God time. Don’t announce your fast to the entire world.

But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees  what is done in secret will reward you. – Matthew 6:17-18

If you have more questions on fasting or anything else I’ve written about please leave your thoughts in the comments!


Are you planning on fasting?

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  2. solus

    Posted by solus on December 22, 2015 at 13:40

    I tried fasting once. But when I was done, I felt like I did nothing. Why? I later learnt that while fasting, we should do away with our pleasures. Like playing games, watching movies, chatting…. and get more involved in the things of God. Like bible study, praising and praying to him. By that we will feel the holy spirit much more better. Bless you

  3. Speak4Elohim

    Posted by Speak4Elohim on March 6, 2014 at 19:37

    I fasted once. It was a fast where I didn’t eat anything… that was when I first discovered that I HAVE to have protein every few hours, or I’ll pass out… yeah…

  4. Project Inspired

    Posted by sprinkles on March 6, 2014 at 08:50

    Do you have to fast for 40 days?

    • Project Inspired

      Posted by girl4godR on March 8, 2014 at 10:20

      Fasting is just a way to focus more on God-I’ve done a fast for a day or like a fast from technology for a week. Let God lead you to when and how long and what he wants you to fast from.

  5. Project Inspired

    Posted by StickyNoteUser93 on April 1, 2013 at 06:13

    Fasting is something I’ve always struggled with, because it means giving up somthing that I love. This past week I did a music fast, I think of it more as a music cleanse. I love my secular music, I’ve realized that not all of it pleases God. I need to be careful what I listen to.

  6. SingingSara6

    Posted by SingingSara6 on February 24, 2013 at 11:20

    My family has always done the no meat on fridays and ash wedensday fast. This year I’m also trying to do a fast where on fridays you either have 2 small meals or one big meal. It’s hard but I’m trying and it’s easiest for me if I just have coffeee milk at breakfast instead of food.

  7. Posted by on October 20, 2011 at 15:54

    Id probably try food fasts. I need to lose weight anyway.

  8. Posted by on September 24, 2011 at 10:31

    I wanna fast to get closer to God, but i am not just fasting one thing. I am fasting T.V. and Facebook and possibly food. I am still contemplating if i should do that.

    • Posted by Nicole on September 29, 2011 at 17:37

      wow good for you Jessica! God is so proud of you!!

  9. Posted by on September 14, 2011 at 04:06

    This is a great article! I know that it will be challenging but I will give it a try! Thanks for posting this 🙂

  10. Posted by on September 12, 2011 at 03:35

    For the food fasting..umm…can you drink juice and eat fruits??

  11. Posted by on September 11, 2011 at 07:04

    I remember doing a food fast back in April. It was my longest fast ever – before, I only fasted for a few hours or so – but I did 30 hours, and it was hard.
    Fasting from other things, though, sounds like a good idea. I could probably do without Facebook for a bit.

  12. Posted by on August 9, 2011 at 17:09

    I’ve done a 30 hour famine with my church to raise money for a child in Africa. We raised hundreds of dollars! 🙂 God is soo good! For the past few months, I’ve also only listened to Christian music! 🙂

  13. Posted by on August 2, 2011 at 09:07

    I Don’t Watch Tv Or Movies That Much . I Usually Read But I Never Read The Bible Unless I’m At Church And We Have To Read Scriptures Or Something And If I’m Scared And The Devil Is At Work Messing With My Mind . I Haven’t Been To Church In A While Because I Don’t Have A Church Home Anymore . I Don’t Understand The Bible Really So I Don’t Read It . I Pray To Be Able To Understand Fully Exactly What God Is Saying But I Don’t Seem To Get It Because Of The Language Really . I Just Need Help In That Aspect .Also I Don’t Know What To Fast . Should I Fast Reading Books And Try To Read The Bible .

    • Posted by Nicole on August 7, 2011 at 22:42

      yes, give the Bible another try, and make sure to get the newest version where the language is very new and updated! It will make it easier for you.

  14. Posted by on July 22, 2011 at 12:12

    This isn’t relevant to the topic, but do you feel as though KJV is the correct and only version to read for reading the Bible. I read many articles about how other versions are perverse and not accurate. What do you think?

    • kath660

      Posted by kath660 on March 31, 2016 at 17:54

      I’m not sure. I would advise you to read the bible closest to the KJV that you can understand. NIV is easy enough for most teens, but stronger readers can move up to the ESV, the NKJV and then to the KJV. This might just be me, but I kind of feel like it makes God seem weak when we confine His communication to only a certain version of the Bible. I’ve read many versions of the bible and they don’t really differ by much. Keep watch though because I’ve seen a handful of verses that can differ wildly from the KJV. if you’re up for it, there are also concordances which are study guides you can use to find the original Greek/Hebrew/etc words and definitions to really sort out the translation kinks. Hope this helps!

    • Project Inspired

      Posted by girl4godR on March 8, 2014 at 10:24

      Some might not be as accurate to the original but for me, KJV is harder to understand (with some lengthier words or complex language) so I use other versions that put it into simpler words. Sometimes I even compare different versions if I don’t understand the meaning, but I don’t think there’s one “right” version.

    • Posted by Nicole on July 22, 2011 at 13:26

      you know what? honestly I’m not sure. 🙂 I’m sorry!

  15. Posted by on July 15, 2011 at 11:33

    fasting seems like a great idea if u wanna get closer to God!!!! i think ill try it!!

  16. Posted by on July 8, 2011 at 19:17

    I’m definatly going to do some sort of fasting and give up something I love with God’s help so I can be stronger in Him. And I totally agree with the fact that you don’t have to give up eating to do this. But this reminded me of the very popular practice of Lent. Although not to get each other confused (because its really not the same)It started to get me thinking about giving things up.
    The idea of Lent is to either give up something you do or something you love, or begin to do something and make a habit out of doing better things and make better choices. But I’ve mostly seen people give up something and that was just the end of it. In Proverbs 21:3 it says, To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice. It just reminded me that while trying to give up something is good, its also good to try to make better choices and make good habits.

    • Posted by Nicole on July 9, 2011 at 00:43

      that’s so well said and true!! God Bless you Evanne 😉

  17. Posted by on July 5, 2011 at 22:33

    i thinking about sweet fast and and in start reading my bible more and more>

  18. Posted by on July 3, 2011 at 00:49

    I did one from ALL electronics, not having anything to do with God. (i only used my ipod for my bible and Christian music, i alowed myself to watch the 700 Club lol) for 3 days.

    • Posted by Nicole on July 5, 2011 at 11:19

      that’s a great idea!! Do you just listen to scriptures on your ipod or is someone reading the bible to you?

  19. Posted by on July 2, 2011 at 23:00

    Rachel, I understand what you mean by thinking you would feel distracted while fasting, but you can use the distractions to your advantage. For example, during a food fast you might feel distracted by a growling stomach, well every time your stomach growls, pray! Ask God to help you through your fast, pray about things that are troubling you, pray about questions that you are hoping God will answer. Use the distractions as reminders to pray! I hope that makes sense, it’s a trick I use every time I fast anything 🙂

  20. Posted by on July 1, 2011 at 17:45

    ok so i have thought about fasting before especially a food fast but i dont see how it would help! if it were me i would be way to distracted to focus on God!!! even if i were to fast something else i would be more distracted than anything!!!!! how can i not do this????

    • Posted by on September 11, 2011 at 14:12

      thats how it helps you fully rely on God, because you have to try extra hard to not be distracted

  21. Posted by on July 1, 2011 at 12:12

    I would like to fast, but I’m afraid I’ve had a history with eating disorders. I wish there was a site that connected people who want to be discipled/mentored with people who want to become a mentor/teach a disciple, or even just a Christian support site where you can talk/chat with a Christian who can help us pray in our troubles and such.

    • Posted by Nicole on July 1, 2011 at 23:20

      that’s what I’m here for and what Project Inspired is all about Cat! What are you having problems with? You can always email me at Nicoleprojectinspired@gmail.com and I will get back to you! Also, the message boards will be available up soon so all you girls can talk back and forth. I’m praying for you!

  22. Posted by on July 1, 2011 at 05:19

    what is fasting? i was reading it and didn’t really see anything that told me what it was to fast. only thing i should fast. but if you think about it i don’t want to do though thing if i don’t know what it means

    • Posted by Nicole on July 5, 2011 at 22:53

      It’s giving up something that you enjoy, or want. It doesn’t have to be food, it can be anything. Like not listening to secular music for a week, putting away your ipod, turning off the TV, things like that. 🙂

  23. Posted by on June 30, 2011 at 19:58

    Yep! THat’s SO true! The bible never says that you can only fast food! It just says ‘When you fast’. And BTW, Laura! Our church just got back from a trip to Africa!

  24. Posted by on June 30, 2011 at 19:49

    i dont usually fast for weeks or days, but what i do is fast two or three meals in a row. maybe all day, or just lunch and dinner, and make sure i pray a few hours at least. i’ve also done facebook/technology fasts and the likes, but i guess ive never called it a fast.
    fasting isn’t just for Lent!

  25. Posted by on June 30, 2011 at 19:48

    Thanks Nicole! 🙂

  26. Posted by on June 30, 2011 at 19:35

    Emily – I’m so glad that you found this to be helpful, if you have any questions we’d love to hear them!

  27. Posted by on June 30, 2011 at 19:34

    Laura – food fasts are really difficult but fasting certain websites and other things can be equally difficult. It’s so cool that you fasted and prayed for your brother while he was traveling, God honors it when we fast for things that are after His heart like concern for the safety of His people!!

  28. Posted by on June 30, 2011 at 18:57

    I don’t do food fasting,I mostly do music and computer fasting.I love the singer Mariah Carey and she is a not christian artist,although she has a christain song on almost every album.Fasting helps bulid up or strength against temptation. When the enemy entices you,you’ll resist.

    (1 Corinthians 10:13)
    No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

  29. Posted by on June 30, 2011 at 18:41

    thanks so much

  30. Posted by on June 30, 2011 at 17:43

    for the music fast do you mean only christian music or only christian artists(not nessacarily christian music)

    • Posted by Nicole on July 3, 2011 at 00:13

      whatever you want that you feel would be somewhat of a ‘challenge’ like you’re giving it up for a little bit. So if you listen to secular music all the time, try listening to only Christian music instead for a week!

  31. Posted by on June 30, 2011 at 15:59

    this helps soooo much! Thank you soo much! God bless 🙂

    • Posted by Nicole on June 30, 2011 at 16:04

      you are so welcome! Isn’t Jen a great writer?

  32. Posted by on June 30, 2011 at 15:58

    I don’t do food fasts, I just can’t handle it.
    I’ll go like for a week or so when I don’t go on a particular website where I tend to waste time, and I make a point to be sure to read my Bible every day. Recently I did this and also a music fast because my brother was travelling to Africa so I fasted and prayed for his safety, but now I’m done because he arrive safely.

    • Posted by Nicole on June 30, 2011 at 16:05

      that’s a great idea! No it doesn’t necessarily have to be a food fast, the fact you stopped listening to music for some time is just as tough and means the same to God!