Our flesh wars with our spirit, tempting us in different ways, but the Lord is more than able to keep us.

How to Overcome Challenges in Fasting

by Adam Wittenberg
7/9/15 Christian Living

This is part 3 of a 3-part series on the Foundations of Fasting. Read Part 1.

Have you ever struggled while trying something new? You’re not alone!

Even if you’ve been at it for a while, fasting challenges the “normal” rhythm of life and society, so it requires constant dependence on God. Our flesh wars with our spirit, tempting us in different ways, but the Lord is more than able to keep us—even when we “mess up.” Here are three common struggles.

1.     Talking about It
God is our reward for fasting, not the praise of men. Bragging or telling others that we’re fasting can limit God’s blessing, so keep your conversation with the Lord (Matthew 6:16).

If it helps, tell one or two trusted friends or mentors who can pray with you during the fast, but try not to go beyond that. What if someone offers you food? Simply say something like, “No, thank you,” or “I’m all set, thanks.” If they insist, explain that you’re not eating that day, and leave it at that.

Regard your devotion to God as holy, something set apart just for Him. We can share the rewards of fasting with others—knowledge, prophetic insight, and a fiery heart for Jesus—and invite others into it when our hearts are pure (Matthew 5:3–8).

A side note: Talking about fasting to exhort and encourage others is different than doing it to gain their attention or admiration. God knows our motives, and we will be held accountable to Him (Matthew 12:36).

2.     Eating (or Drinking) Something
This is a big one. Sometimes we aim too high or set unrealistic expectations for ourselves. Maybe you started a “water only” fast but needed some juice to make it through the day. Or maybe that granola bar or snack just “jumped” into your mouth. What can we do?

The good news is God sees the reach in our hearts. He rewards everything we give to Him, whether it’s one meal, one day, or one week. He’s quick to forgive (Exodus 34:6-7) and wants us to press delete and restart quickly–we won’t exhaust His grace if we are seeking Him wholeheartedly.

If you’re continually breaking your fasts early, take a look at what’s tripping you up. Maybe a different day would work better, or try a juice fast instead of all water. It can help to ask a friend for accountability and encouragement—you don’t have to go it alone!

A note on “messing up”: Sometimes God allows our stumbling to expose weakness, prevent pride, and show us how unsatisfying food is compared to the pleasure of knowing Him more. A binge during or after a fast can leave us feeling worse than when we were hungry—something that can increase our zeal to stay faithful!

3.     Ignoring God
This may be easier to do than you think (and harder to spot!). Fasting weakens us physically, removing the comfort we would get from food. Sometimes anger, fear, and hurt emotions rise to the surface, surprising even us! It can be tempting to suppress these feelings with entertainment, shopping, or Facebook, but this defeats the purpose. We must allow God to purify our souls, recognizing that these things came up for a reason, instead of masking the pain with other behaviors.

The bottom line is that God is jealous for you (Exodus 34:14)! He wants all of you, and fasting helps reveal things that are getting in the way, such as busyness, pain, or other loves.

This is another reason to fast weekly: some things take a while to be noticed, but God is fully committed to cleansing us if we will stay faithful to the process! So don’t quit. Even if it gets hard, the Lord loves to help in our weakness, and His grace is more than enough (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Hopefully, these foundations will start you on an exciting journey of encountering God through fasting. As we keep our eyes on Him, He will do more than we could think, ask, or imagine (Ephesians 3:20)!

Disclaimer: This is not intended as medical advice; please check with your doctor before fasting if you have any health issues or concerns. Minors are discouraged from fasting food, but should only fast with their parents’ approval and supervision.

For additional resources, you can read Mike Bickle’s book The Rewards of Fasting (free download) and IHOPKC’s Fasting Guidelines as well as listen to teachings about fasting on The Mike Bickle Library.

Adam Wittenberg


    A Detroit native who was raised in Vermont and Connecticut, Adam worked as a newspaper journalist until 2012, when he moved to Kansas City to complete the Intro to IHOPKC internship. Afterwards, he earned a four-year certificate in House of Prayer Leadership from IHOPU and is now on full-time staff in the Marketing department at IHOPKC. He also serves in the NightWatch (overnight prayer hours) and is active in evangelism. He, and his wife Stephany, have a vision to reach people everywhere with the good news of Jesus Christ.

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