Tips for Multi-Day Complete Fasts

Posted by Ethos Church on

The following blog has been written by an Ethos family member who wishes to remain anonymous. Fasting is typically a private spiritual discipline, specifics made known by the person fasting to only their close community and God. The author of this blog felt most comfortable sharing their story anonymously, and so we honor their request. Below you'll find loads of practical tips for a multi-day complete fast (think 7 days or more). We hope this blog is a blessing to you!

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I remember being in high school and going cliff jumping with my friends. We hiked out to a secluded spot, and found a cliff that loomed 50 or so feet above the water. As we stood on the edge of the cliff and peered down at the water below, I saw the same dread and fear wash over several of my friend’s faces. As we were counting up the hundreds of things that could potentially go wrong, my friend Kevin got a running head-start, and without hesitation jumped into the water below. I clearly remember the immediate relief I felt when I saw his head pop above the water, and after hearing him tell us how much fun it was, one by one we each followed suit and jumped in.

It’s amazing how much easier things are when we know and see someone go before us. Getting to hear the details of how it all went down, and knowing they came out the other side of it well, is an absolute game changer.

I hesitated to share my story of fasting because fasting isn't really a thing we do publicly, rather privately in smaller community and with God. I realized we are doing this 30 day fast in community as a church family, and there really is power in knowing someone has jumped into the water before you. So, if you are considering doing a 7 day (or longer) complete fast, I want to take a few minutes to share my adventure with you, to be a witness that the water is fine, and to encourage you to take that leap of faith.

A couple of disclaimers I want to put up front:

1. This was just my experience, and your experience may be completely different. Everyone’s bodies and minds are beautifully unique, and you may feel or react differently than I did to fasting. And remember, if you have any medical concerns, always consult your physician before starting a fast.

2. You aren’t going to be able to do this alone. I usually pride myself on being independent and self-sufficient, but I desperately needed my community to do this.

3. I have the same Spirit inside of me that you have in you, therefore literally each and every one of you could do this and more if God called you into it. I am not special. ZERO percent of this was my own strength, willpower, etc, but rather every single ounce of glory goes directly and only to God.


BEFORE THE FAST

DISCERN. I cannot encourage you enough to take time to sit with the Lord and really pray through and discern what you think He is calling you into. Doing a multi-day complete fast will very likely drastically change your day-to-day, and I would not advise entering into it lightly. Lay everything out on the table: your fears and hesitations, potential ulterior motives, tendencies to rely on your own strength, etc. I promise He can handle it!

PREPARE. The more you are able to prepare ahead of time, the easier your fast will be.

A few important ways to prepare:

1. Choose a week where you have the least amount of things on your calendar, and keep that week has open as you possibly can (more on why that is important below).

2. Invite 3-5 of your closest friends into the journey with you. Share with them what you are doing and why, the dates you’ll be fasting, and any anxieties you are having about it. You’ll need a support team when it starts getting hard, and having a prayer team around you is a game-changer.

3. Get rid of the food in your house! The day before my fast, I literally took all of my food to a friend’s house so I wouldn’t even have the option to end my fast prematurely. Your thinking will potentially get pretty fuzzy, and I wanted to make it where I would have to literally go to a store and buy food if I wanted to end it, rather than just reaching into my kitchen cabinet. It sounds over the top now, but you’ll understand on Day 4 :)

4. Get away if possible! Book a retreat away from your normal surroundings for a few days. I found a cheap AirBnB about an hour from Nashville for the last weekend of my fast, and it was incredible. I’ve learned about fasting from many of our international church planters, and a consistent trait of their multi-day fasts is that they get away somewhere to be with God. We saw Jesus do this in the desert, and there is something powerful about stepping out of our usual day-to-day to spend uninterrupted time and focus on our Father.

5. Be ready for battle. Just as a soldier would never just causally wander into a war, neither should we meander into a fast. All throughout history God has moved in supernatural ways during a fast, and there is a very real enemy that will come to steal, kill and destroy all God wants to do in you. Fortify yourself ahead of time by intentional times of prayer, identifying scripture that you can cling to during the fast, and worship.

DURING THE FAST

LEAN ON JESUS. The point of a fast is to deny ourselves, which means this isn’t supposed to be comfortable or easy. Most of us are taught from birth to be independent and self-sufficient, and fasting is a beautiful opportunity to learn how to fully rely on Christ. This was REALLY hard for me — I normally like to do life full throttle, and I love being fast and efficient.

Throughout the fast I struggled to let go of these parts of my identity. Where I used to find my worth in being helpful and productive, I suddenly found myself being needy and useless. I had to lessen myself for Jesus to become more, and that was tough! It dug up some really ugly places of my heart that I had no idea were there. This is supposed to be difficult, and in those moments when you reach the absolute end of yourself — lean on Jesus. Ask Him to fill your empty stomach with more of His Spirit, and ask him to give you the ability to desire Him more than food.

BE OK WITH NOT FEELING OK. I have heard of some legends who have done an extended full fast and were still able to go about life as normal, even some who worked out during it. That is awesome for those folks, but that was not my story. I was prepared to feel different, but I was actually shocked at how hard it was on my body and mind. After just a few days, my legs felt like they were going to give out after just walking 50 yards. I had VERY low energy, and my mind felt fuzzy and slow. I lost 9% of my weight in a week. It’s normal to feel rough — your body is going into starvation mode and does some crazy stuff. Use these moments to embrace Jesus, and come to Him in ways you might never have before.

DRINK WATER! On a full fast, water is the only thing you allow to enter your body. It will feel like a chore at times, but drink as much water as you can. It’s really good for you, and can help with headaches and other side effects you may feel.

DON'T EXPECT AN IMMEDIATE WITHDRAWAL FROM YOUR SPIRITUAL DEPOSIT. This was one of my biggest takeaways from the fast. I wouldn’t have said it out loud, but in my innermost self I thought that since I was making such a big “spiritual deposit”, that I would immediately see abundant fruit from my “sacrifice”. I was hoping by Day 7, I would have audibly heard God’s voice, had a 50 year plan for my life, and maybe even levitated with angels. (Joking….kinda).

That didn’t happen...not even close. I had some really sweet moments with Jesus, and I learned a ton, but I didn’t have a huge immediate revelation from it. I was at first really disappointed, but after a friend spoke some truth into me I realized that God doesn’t work like that. Just as the wisest financial investments are made and then left for years at a time in order to see the best return, oftentimes we may not see the fruit of our obedience for years with the Lord. But there is real power in relying on Jesus more than ourselves, even if we don’t see immediate results.

AFTER THE FAST

EASE SLOWLY BACK INTO NORMAL EATING. This one was hard. I literally had a note in my phone of all the things I had been craving, and wanted to eat a whole pizza, burrito, and sushi the minute I was done with my fast. BUT, unless you are wanting some major stomach problems, I would strongly advise easing back into eating. I drank bone broth for my first couple of “meals” back, and then had an amazing friend offer to make me some broth and rice soup for my first solid meal back (again- I can’t overemphasize how important your community is going to be in this). Take your time reintroducing food groups, and plan for a week or so AFTER your fast to still be a bit different from your normal eating.

PROCESS THROUGH WHAT YOU LEARNED DURING THE FAST. Take some time after the fast to go back through your journal and process through your experience, both alone with the Lord and with your community. Your brain will most likely feel foggy while you are fasting, so you’ll want to take a good amount of time once you feel normal again to go back through your experience. You’ll also continue to receive things from the Lord in the days, weeks, and months after the fast, so continue to remain open to whatever and however God speaks.

I hope this helps give you some practical insight into what an extended fast looks like if you are considering jumping in to one this year. Remember that time/energy/effort spent seeking the heart of God is NEVER wasted, and He will sustain you!

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A Note from Caity Shinnick:

I am the Creative & Communications Director here at Ethos Church. I am not the author to this blog above. I do know the author though. If you have any questions about a multi-day fast, email me at  — and I will get those to the author!

Also, I'd like to reiterate that fasting is a personal decision between you and God. A multi-day fast is one that you should not enter into lightly, and if you have any health concerns, are nursing, or are pregnant...then we urge you to speak to a health professional before fasting or choose a different type of fast.

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