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
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!