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Category: Novena Prayers

How Long Should I Fast?

How Long Should I Fast?

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What is Fasting?

Fasting is essentially giving up food (or something else) for a period of time in order to focus your thoughts on God. While fasting, many people read the Bible, pray, or worship. Fasting is found throughout the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, over fifty times!

To FAST, HOW LONG?

“How long you fast is entirely up to you and the leadership of the Holy Spirit. The Bible gives examples of fasts that lasted one day or part of a day (Judges 20:26; 1 Samuel 7:6; 2 Samuel 1:12; 3:35; Nehemiah 9:1; Jeremiah 36:6), a one-night fast (Daniel 6:18–24), three-day fasts (Esther 4:16; Acts 9:9), seven-day fasts (1 Samuel 31:13; 2 Samuel 12:16–23), a fourteen-day fast (Acts 27:33–34), a twenty-one day fast (Daniel 10:3–13), forty-day fasts (Deuteronomy 9:9; 1 Kings 19:8; Matthew 4:2), and fasts of unspecified lengths (Matthew 9:14; Luke 2:37; Acts 13:2; 14:23).” -What Christians Need to Know about Fasting by Sam Storms

Occasional Short Fasts
Whether denying yourself food or some other pleasure, an occasional fast that lasts six, twelve, or twenty-four hours is the most manageable… You are not necessarily making a commitment to do this type of fast again, as it is a one-time fast for a specific purpose.

Intermittent Fasts
This is normally a regular act of abstinence, for example one day a week. You may abstain from food, or make some other sacrifice. This type of fast is a way of integrating the spiritual discipline of fasting into your life on an ongoing basis. 

Longer Fasts
Longer fasts likewise can take the form of abstinence from food or some other sacrifice. Some good options for a non-food fast would be abstaining from watching TV from Monday to Friday, reading a biography of a great man or woman of God each week, or dedicating every evening for a week to praying with friends…A longer water-only fast might last from one to three days. If you are fasting from something other than food, your longer fast might last a week. Some use Lent as a time for a longer fast. 

Extended Fasts
This is the hard path of fasting—choosing to give up something that you need or value for an extended period of time. One non-food extended fast would be to get up an hour earlier each day for a month in order to pray, worship, or read Scripture or a Christian book. 

Open-ended Fasts
Some extended fasts are open-ended, for example, where you make a commitment not to break your fast until your goals have been achieved. Defining your goals is particularly important here. Again, this type of fast should not be considered until you have gained some experience.

Occasional Group Fasts
Such fasts can be called by a church or a group of churches or, on a larger scale, even to a nation during a time of crisis. Alternately, such fasts can be called by a small group or even by a Christian business. With the right leadership, calling groups to prayer and fasting can be a very powerful tool.

Longer Group Fasts
The range of options for a group fast is extensive. Are you all going to fast at the same time, or are you setting up a rotation? If you are going to do a water-only fast, are there some who need to do a partial fast for health reasons? Is this an open-ended fast until a goal is achieved, or are you fasting for a specifically defined period?

What You Need to Know about Fasting from Food and Drink

What You Need to Know about Fasting from Food and Drink

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What is Fasting?

Fasting is essentially giving up food (or something else) for a period of time in order to focus your thoughts on God. While fasting, many people read the Bible, pray, or worship. Fasting is found throughout the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, over fifty times!

In her blog, Gospel Taboo, Amanda Edmondson writes, “Biblically, fasting is mentioned in both the Old and New Testament. In the Old Testament it was often a way of expressing grief or a means of humbling oneself before the Lord. In Psalm 35:13, David humbled himself with fasting.

In the New Testament it was a means to grow closer to God through mediating and focusing on Him. In Matthew 4:1-2, Jesus went to the wilderness to fast for 40 days. In Matthew 6:16-18 we learn that we aren’t to look somber while fasting so that it’s not obvious to others when we are fasting. Throughout the New Testament fasting and prayer are often mentioned together. In Acts 13:3, ‘they had fasted and prayed.’ In Luke 2:37 a widow worshiped day and night fasting and praying.”

Facts about Fasting from Food and Drink

“…a progression should be observed in your fasting, especially if this discipline is new to you and you are unfamiliar with its physical effects. Don’t start out with a weeklong water fast! Begin by skipping one meal each day for two to three days and setting aside the money it would have cost to give to the poor. Spend the time praying that you would have used for eating.”

“If you’ve never fasted before, be aware that in the early stages you may get dizzy and have headaches. This is part of the body’s cleansing process and will pass with time. Be sure that you break the fast gradually with fresh fruit and vegetables. Do not overeat after the fast. Chili and pizza may sound good after several days of not eating, but please, exercise a little restraint and say no!” – What Christians Need to Know about Fasting by Sam Storms

When starting your fast, consider possible dietary restrictions. Pastor Brian Croft writes, “Be mindful of any health issues that could make a fast unwise. For example, if you are a diabetic or have any other physical condition that requires a strict diet, be especially mindful not to put yourself in a compromised position as a result of a fast.”

“I also discourage the idea of fasting for those who struggle with eating disorders that are making intake of food a challenge and concern in their daily living. The point of the fast is to combine it with a more intense, focused time of prayer that brings a greater communion with God, a greater empowerment of the Spirit, and a greater earnestness in your soul.”

7 BASIC STEPS TO SUCCESSFUL FASTING AND PRAYER

7 BASIC STEPS TO SUCCESSFUL FASTING AND PRAYER

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I believe the power of fasting as it relates to prayer is the spiritual atomic bomb that our Lord has given us to destroy the strongholds of evil and usher in a great revival and spiritual harvest around the world.

How to Begin Your Fast

How you begin and conduct your fast will largely determine your success. By following these seven basic steps to fasting, you will make your time with the Lord more meaningful and spiritually rewarding.

STEP 1: SET YOUR OBJECTIVE
Why are you fasting? Is it for spiritual renewal, for guidance, for healing, for the resolution of problems, for special grace to handle a difficult situation? Ask the Holy Spirit to clarify His leading and objectives for your prayer fast. This will enable you to pray more specifically and strategically.

Through fasting and prayer we humble ourselves before God so the Holy Spirit will stir our souls, awaken our churches, and heal our land according to 2 Chronicles 7:14. Make this a priority in your fasting.

STEP 2: MAKE YOUR COMMITMENT
Pray about the kind of fast you should undertake. Jesus implied that all of His followers should fast (Matthew 6:16-18; 9:14,15) For Him it was a matter of when believers would fast, not if they would do it. Before you fast, decide the following up front:

  • How long you will fast—one meal, one day, a week, several weeks, forty days (Beginners should start slowly, building up to longer fasts.)
  • The type of fast God wants you to undertake (such as water only, or water and juices; what kinds of juices you will drink and how often)
  • What physical or social activities you will restrict
  • How much time each day you will devote to prayer and God’s Word

Making these commitments ahead of time will help you sustain your fast when physical temptations and life’s pressures tempt you to abandon it.

STEP 3: PREPARE YOURSELF SPIRITUALLY
The very foundation of fasting and prayer is repentance. Unconfessed sin will hinder your prayers. Here are several things you can do to prepare your heart:

  • Ask God to help you make a comprehensive list of your sins.
  • Confess every sin that the Holy Spirit calls to your remembrance and accept God’s forgiveness (1 John 1:9).
  • Seek forgiveness from all whom you have offended, and forgive all who have hurt you (Mark 11:25; Luke 11:4; 17:3,4).
  • Make restitution as the Holy Spirit leads you.
  • Ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit according to His command in Ephesians 5:18 and His promise in 1 John 5:14,15.
  • Surrender your life fully to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Master; refuse to obey your worldly nature (Romans 12:1,2).
  • Meditate on the attributes of God, His love, sovereignty, power, wisdom, faithfulness, grace, compassion, and others (Psalm 48:9,10; 103:1-8, 11-13).
  • Begin your time of fasting and prayer with an expectant heart (Hebrews 11:6).
  • Do not underestimate spiritual opposition. Satan sometimes intensifies the natural battle between body and spirit (Galatians 5:16,17).

STEP 4: PREPARE YOURSELF PHYSICALLY
Fasting requires reasonable precautions. Consult your physician first, especially if you take prescription medication or have a chronic ailment. Some persons should never fast without professional supervision.

Physical preparation makes the drastic change in your eating routine a little easier so that you can turn your full attention to the Lord in prayer.

  • Do not rush into your fast.
  • Prepare your body. Eat smaller meals before starting a fast. Avoid high-fat and sugary foods.
  • Eat raw fruit and vegetables for two days before starting a fast.

While You Fast

Your time of fasting and prayer has come. You are abstaining from all solid foods and have begun to seek the Lord. Here are some helpful suggestions to consider:

  • Avoid drugs, even natural herbal drugs and homeopathic remedies. Medication should be withdrawn only with your physician’s supervision.
  • Limit your activity.
  • Exercise only moderately. Walk one to three miles each day if convenient and comfortable.
  • Rest as much as your schedule will permit.
  • Prepare yourself for temporary mental discomforts, such as impatience, crankiness, and anxiety.
  • Expect some physical discomforts, especially on the second day. You may have fleeting hunger pains, dizziness, or the “blahs.” Withdrawal from caffeine and sugar may cause headaches. Physical annoyances may also include weakness, tiredness, or sleeplessness.

The first two or three days are usually the hardest. As you continue to fast, you will likely experience a sense of well-being both physically and spiritually. However, should you feel hunger pains, increase your liquid intake.

STEP 5: PUT YOURSELF ON A SCHEDULE
For maximum spiritual benefit, set aside ample time to be alone with the Lord. Listen for His leading. The more time you spend with Him, the more meaningful your fast will be.

Morning

  • Begin your day in praise and worship.
  • Read and meditate on God’s Word, preferably on your knees.
  • Invite the Holy Spirit to work in you to will and to do His good pleasure according to Philippians 2:13.
  • Invite God to use you. Ask Him to show you how to influence your world, your family, your church, your community, your country, and beyond.
  • Pray for His vision for your life and empowerment to do His will.

Noon

  • Return to prayer and God’s Word.
  • Take a short prayer walk.
  • Spend time in intercessory prayer for your community’s and nation’s leaders, for the world’s unreached millions, for your family or special needs.

Evening

  • Get alone for an unhurried time of “seeking His face.”
  • If others are fasting with you, meet together for prayer.
  • Avoid television or any other distraction that may dampen your spiritual focus.

When possible, begin and end each day on your knees with your spouse for a brief time of praise and thanksgiving to God. Longer periods of time with our Lord in prayer and study of His Word are often better spent alone.

A dietary routine is vital as well. Dr. Julio C. Ruibal—a nutritionist, pastor, and specialist in fasting and prayer—suggests a daily schedule and list of juices you may find useful and satisfying. Modify this schedule and the drinks you take to suit your circumstances and tastes.

5 a.m. – 8 a.m.

  • Fruit juices, preferably freshly squeezed or blended and diluted in 50 percent distilled water if the fruit is acid. Apple, pear, grapefruit, papaya, watermelon, or other fruit juices are generally preferred. If you cannot do your own juicing, buy juices without sugar or additives.

10:30 a.m. – noon

  • Fresh vegetable juice made from lettuce, celery, and carrots in three equal parts.

2:30 p.m. – 4 p.m.

  • Herb tea with a drop of honey. Avoid black tea or any tea with caffeine.

6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

  • Broth made from boiling potatoes, celery, and carrots with no salt. After boiling about half an hour, pour the water into a container and drink it.

Tips on Juice Fasting

  • Drinking fruit juice will decrease your hunger pains and give you some natural sugar energy. The taste and lift will motivate and strengthen you to continue.
  • The best juices are made from fresh watermelon, lemons, grapes, apples, cabbage, beets, carrots, celery, or leafy green vegetables. In cold weather, you may enjoy a warm vegetable broth.
  • Mix acidic juices (orange and tomato) with water for your stomach’s sake.
  • Avoid caffeinated drinks. And avoid chewing gum or mints, even if your breath is bad. They stimulate digestive action in your stomach.

Breaking Your Fast

When your designated time for fasting is finished, you will begin to eat again. But how you break your fast is extremely important for your physical and spiritual well-being.

STEP 6: END YOUR FAST GRADUALLY
Begin eating gradually. Do not eat solid foods immediately after your fast. Suddenly reintroducing solid food to your stomach and digestive tract will likely have negative, even dangerous, consequences. Try several smaller meals or snacks each day. If you end your fast gradually, the beneficial physical and spiritual effects will result in continued good health.

Here are some suggestions to help you end your fast properly:

  • Break an extended water fast with fruit such as watermelon.
  • While continuing to drink fruit or vegetable juices, add the following:
    • First day: Add a raw salad.
    • Second day: Add baked or boiled potato, no butter or seasoning.
    • Third day: Add a steamed vegetable.
    • Thereafter: Begin to reintroduce your normal diet.
  • Gradually return to regular eating with several small snacks during the first few days. Start with a little soup and fresh fruit such as watermelon and cantaloupe. Advance to a few tablespoons of solid foods such as raw fruits and vegetables or a raw salad and baked potato.

A Final Word

STEP 7: EXPECT RESULTS
If you sincerely humble yourself before the Lord, repent, pray, and seek God’s face; if you consistently meditate on His Word, you will experience a heightened awareness of His presence (John 14:21). The Lord will give you fresh, new spiritual insights. Your confidence and faith in God will be strengthened. You will feel mentally, spiritually, and physically refreshed. You will see answers to your prayers.

A single fast, however, is not a spiritual cure-all. Just as we need fresh infillings of the Holy Spirit daily, we also need new times of fasting before God. A 24-hour fast each week has been greatly rewarding to many Christians.

It takes time to build your spiritual fasting muscles. If you fail to make it through your first fast, do not be discouraged. You may have tried to fast too long the first time out, or your may need to strengthen your understanding and resolve. As soon as possible, undertake another fast until you do succeed. God will honor you for your faithfulness.

I encourage you to join me in fasting and prayer again and again until we truly experience revival in our homes, our churches, our beloved nation, and throughout the world.

“The Most Powerful Novenas of the Church

“The Most Powerful Novenas of the Church

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What is a Novena?

A novena is a term used to describe a continuous praying of a formula nine consecutive times, usually nine consecutive days or once a week for nine weeks. The number nine derives from the time Mary and the Apostles waited for the coming of the Holy Spirit between Ascension and Pentecost. (from the Catholic Encyclopedia)

Novenas are letter of petition to Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saints, including Saint Anthony, Saint Peregrine and Saint Therese of Lisieux. Novena to Blessed Teresa of Calcutta is a new and quick one, each prayer in “The Most Powerful Novenas of the Church’s includes the history of that particular novena.

Although the practice of praying novenas has only been around since the 1600s, believers have embraced this commitment of devotion as a unique aspect of our Catholic identity.

“You don’t control God by Saying Novena, however it helps us to opening ourselves to God in order to increase our faith and grow in love of God and neighbor,” said Redemptorist Father Jim White.

“Novenas are about inner healing, obtaining special graces, transformation and growing in virtue and holiness.”

History, purpose

The word “novena” comes from the Latin “novem,” which means nine. Thus, novenas always include nine of something: months, weeks, days, hours or even the same prayer repeated nine times.

In ancient Rome, it was customary to pray for the dead over a nine-day period as a way to mourn and commit the soul to God’s mercy. Mary, the Apostles and other followers of Jesus gathered to pray in the Upper Room during the nine days between Ascension and Pentecost.

In the early Middle Ages, novenas were prayed in preparation for major liturgical events such as Christmas and Pentecost and later used as acts of reparation.

Gradually, parishes took on the novena tradition, and it became customary for each parish to have an ongoing novena of some kind. Many parishes carry on that tradition to this day. Although novenas have been part of Catholic tradition since its earliest days, the Church didn’t officially bless the practice until the 19th century, according to Father White.

But if a novena holds no magical powers, what’s the use of praying them?

“When we pray a novena, we focus our spiritual attention intently on one set of prayers,” said Mary DeTurris Poust. “It’s typically for a special intention in order to receive special graces and either the answer to our prayer or the whisper of the Spirit telling us what we need to do, where we need to go. It’s our version of the Upper Room.”

Having the right attitude is key to the use of novenas. Because they’re a powerful means of prayer, we can be tempted to abuse their power.

When we pray a novena, we must take on Jesus’ attitude in Gethsemane the night before he died. “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done” (Lk 22:42)

How and why

There are three essential elements for the use of novenas.

First, the prayers are specific, which helps us make our needs before God specific without telling God how to answer our prayer.

Second, the prayers include an expression of trust and confidence in God’s ability to answer them.

“Often we have some doubts, so we pray like the man with the epileptic son,” he said. “‘Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.’ Prayers that rouse our trust in God are aids to the graces of faith and hope.”

Third, repeating prayers and repeating them over time is helpful because we often need that length of time to move beyond merely making a request to learning to listen to God as he speaks to us in prayer.

According to Father Pacwa, he said and i quote “Getting the answer we seek is only part of the issue,”

“It is also essential to see the need of praying over a long time. The novena induces us to consider more aspects of the importance of receiving the answer. As we pray, we develop our relationship with God, and that is often more lasting than the actual result we see from praying with faith. The relationship with God himself is essential, and a novena reminds us that the relationship takes time.”

List of Novenas That are very Powerful in the Church

Novena To Little Flower

Novena To Divine Mercy

Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help

Novena to the  Miraculous Medal

Novena to Our Lady of Sorrow

Novena St. Anthony of Padua

etc..