Well, the 40 day Jesus fast begins in 21 days. It’s been a while since I’ve done a 40 day fast and I find myself thinking of ways I can prepare myself for it. I have to admit; I didn’t use wisdom in preparing on the first two 40 day fasts I went on—but I’d like to do this one with wisdom. Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading proverbs lately and it’s rubbing off on me, or maybe it’s because I’m getting older and starting to realize I want good health when I’m actually old. Whatever the reason…
How to prepare for a 40 day fast:
- Decide On The Kind of Fast & Commit To It
- Clearly Define The Purpose & Type Of Fast
- Adjust Your Schedule To Avoid Strenuous Physical Activity and To Include Time With God
- Have a Plan For Upcoming Important Events
- Practice Saying ’No’ To Invitations To Lunch & Dinner
- Inform Close Friends & Family You Will Be Fasting
- Break Sugar & Food Addictions Before You Begin
- Stop Consuming Meat & Dairy A Few Days Prior To Starting
- Eat Smaller Portions of Food 2 Days Before The Fast Begins
- Consider A Saltwater Flush
- Consider Drinking A Natural Herbal Laxative Tea
- Drink Plenty Of Water
- Immerse Yourself In Fasting Resources & Educational Material
- Expect a Breakthrough & To Encounter God
- Expect Demonic Resistance & Do Not Be Alarmed If It Comes
Consult with your doctor to make sure you are in good enough health to fast for 40 days. If you have a chronic illness (like diabetes) then you especially need to speak with your doctor
1. Decide On The Kind of Fast & Commit To It
When it comes to fasting from food you really only have to options: to water fast or not to water fast?
Water Only Fast
When Jesus was in the wilderness he fasted for 40 days on water alone. For an adult in good health, this is very doable. Many people through out-history have gone on 40-day water fasts. I’ve never gone a full 40 days on water alone–but I’d like the grace for this someday. Anyone that’s attempting to go this long on just water should check in with their doctor to make sure their health is up to par.
Modified Water Fast
Many people have responsibilities that might prevent them from drinking water only for 40 days. The next best thing (in my opinion) is drinking water sweetened with either honey or maple syrup. This is what I do on some of my fasts. It gives me enough energy to keep up with daily life and to still fast—it also makes the water taste bearable enough to drink day after day.
I buy gallons of distilled water and each day of my fast I mix a jug (at room temperature) with honey, lemon, and fresh mint. This is what I usually drink during a fast. I am very conservative with the amount of honey I use but it’s like a mint tea. There are other variations of this like the master cleanse; which instead of honey uses maple syrup and also adds cayenne pepper—these two ingredients are supposed to help the body detox. I’ve tried this but I prefer the lemon, honey, and mint mixture.
Juice fasting is popular but is also messy in my opinion. It’s best to drink fresh juice and fresh juice requires juicing with a juicer—which I’m not sure I ever want to do again. If you don’t mind the work involved it’s a great way to fast.
You don’t want to drink pasteurized and pre-processed juice. You also want to stay away from dairy, smoothies, v8 juice, and anything that has pulp in it and will keep your digestive system active. You want your digestive system to shut down—and it will on day 3 or 4 if you do not eat or drink anything that would keep it going.
V8 vegetable juice & Naked Juice smoothies will keep it active as they have pulp in them (if you are going to buy a Naked brand drink then make sure it says ‘juice’ and not ‘smoothie’). You will still poop! It would be a miserable thing to have hunger pangs for 40 days—so do yourself a favor and only drink fresh juices that will keep your digestive system turned off. Fresh juice without pulp is what you want FreedomYou has some excellent articles on juice fasting. If I remember right they recommend sweetening water with juice & not drinking it at full strength all of the time.
2. Clearly Define The Purpose & Type Of Fast
Why are you fasting? I believe the primary motive of fasting should be to humble ourselves before God like David did. We should seek to come into alignment with God’s plan and purpose for our lives.
I also believe we should be specific in the reason for our fast. When Daniel fasted he was trying to understand God’s heart and plan for Israel. When Ezra called a fast he was praying for God’s provision and protection. I want to draw close to the Lord on every fast I go on—but I also want to have a clearly defined purpose and reason for the fast. On the upcoming Jesus Fast, the theme is a corporate revival in America.
3. Adjust Your Schedule
You should adjust your schedule to accommodate your fast. You want to spend more time in the Word and in Prayer. Use this 40 day fast as an opportunity to draw closer to God. Spend extra time with him and plan it into your schedule. If you don’t schedule it—it usually doesn’t happen. Slow down the pace of your life. Try to minimize business. You want to slow yourself down, quiet your soul, and be still before the Lord as much as possible.
4. Have a Plan For Upcoming Important Events
Also have a plan for any important events that will have food such as weddings, holidays, and birthdays. On my first 40 day fast, I had to miss Thanksgiving and my birthday. I knew this ahead of time and planned to decline the offer for food and birthday cake on both occasions. I was committed to my fast. Knowing ahead of time what important events you won’t be able to fully participate in is helpful—so you are not disappointed when they come.
5. Practice Saying ’No’ To Invitations To Lunch & Dinner
Something weird happens when you fast. Sometimes people you haven’t talked to in months will randomly ask you if you want to go out to eat with them—or will invite you to their random barbecue. Offers for food increase on almost every fast I’ve gone on. I’ve caved in and given into the temptation to eat a few times—especially during the first few days of my fast—before food cravings were broken.
If you are unprepared for these temptations it may be easier to rationalize why it’s ok to break your fast and eat—you don’t want to offend your friend after all right? Wrong. Your friends will understand and be just fine if you aren’t able to share food with them for 40 days. Prepare in advance for this. If you do happen to cave in at some point—confess it—pick yourself up and move on—continuing with the fast. Don’t plan to fail but have a plan in place..
6. Inform Close Friends & Family You Will Be Fasting
If the people who you spend the most amount of time with know that you are fasting from food for an extended period of time they will be able to prepare themselves—and not offer food to you. I realize that fasting should be done in secret but there are certain people in your life that need to know—and it’s ok to tell them!
7. Break Sugar & Food Addictions Before You Begin
I was addicted to sugar and highly processed food for most of my life—up until a few years ago (when I started fasting regularly). I craved sugar and sweets daily. Once I satisfied my craving for sugar I’d need to satisfy myself with something salty. Then I’d want something sweet again—this cycle would repeat every day. I also struggled with being overweight & my energy levels were very low. I was very lethargic and unmotivated—for years.
It wasn’t until I started eating healthy, during a Daniel Fast in 2016, that I realized the tremendous negative impact refined sugar was having on my mood and my energy levels. It was also giving me un-natural food cravings. I tried (and failed) to incorporate regular fasting into my life for almost a decade. It wasn’t until I was able to break my addiction to refined sugar and processed food that I was able to fast regularly.
For 9 years (with a few exceptions) I wasn’t able to fast more than a day or two at a time. I’d always break my fast and give in to a craving for food. I almost gave in to the lie that told me that fasting wasn’t for me—but I didn’t and God has given me the grace for extended fasting (in certain seasons)—though I don’t always have it.
When I started to understand the correlation between processed food and the uncontrollable cravings I had—I was able to break my physical addiction to sugar. Don’t get me wrong—there are still seasons where I overdo it some with sweets and processed foods—but now I know how to break any type of bad eating habits. I know that my body needs a couple of weeks of clean eating before I’m able to participate in any type of fast successfully.
I recommend anyone considering a 40 day fast—take an inventory of the type of foods you eat and might be addicted to. Consider eliminating them from your diet a week or two before you start a 40 day fast.
8. Stop Consuming Meat & Dairy A Few Days Prior To Starting
The idea here is that you don’t want to consume anything that is hard to digest and will take a while to digest. You should avoid meat and high fat (heavier foods.)
9. Eat Smaller Portions of Food 2 Days Before The Fast Begins
Cut back on the amount of food you are consuming 2-3 days before you start fasting. This will help your stomach and also speed up the amount of time it will take for your digestive system to turn off.
10. Consider A Saltwater Flush
According to Healthline a Saltwater flush cleanses the colon, treats constipation, and aids in the detoxification of your body. The idea is that you want to begin your fast with an empty colon. For lack of a better way to say it you want to get all of the poop out of your body! A saltwater flush is a good way to do this.
You drink a mixture of warm water and non-iodized salt (like sea salt). Drinking water and salt together has a laxative effect. It will make you poop! Do your research and understand what to do before you do this.
11. Consider Drinking A Natural Herbal Laxative Tea
A natural herbal laxative tea will also help cleanse the colon and empty the digestive tract. Herbal tea is more gentle on your body than an over the counter drug or a prescription laxative—but again do your own research here.
12. Drink Plenty Of Water
Water or liquids will be the primary way your life is sustained during this 40 day fast (besides the presence of God). If you are not going to consume food then you need to be sure you are consuming enough water to stay hydrated. The IHOPKC Fasting Guidelines recommend you drink up to half of your body weight in ounces. So if you weight 160 lbs, like me, then you’d drink 80 ounces of water.
I, personally, can’t stand drinking water. It’s the lack of flavor that makes me feel sick if I drink it in large quantities. I will be flavoring my water with honey, lemon, and possibly fresh mint. I know that if I do this it will be easy for me to drink enough fluids every day. If I don’t do this then I will hardly drink anything and probably become dehydrated—and becoming dehydrated, especially while on a 40 day fast, isn’t a good thing. If you are anything like me then consider flavoring your water to make it a little more bearable. I’ve learned that I have to do this—or I just won’t drink enough.
Water will help cleanse and flush out toxins from your body. It will also help you feel full—so drink extra water during the first few days—especially when you are experiencing hunger pangs (which should stop around day 3).
13.#Immerse Yourself In Fasting Resources & Educational Material
Before you begin a fast it’s helpful to go into learning mode. Understand the benefits of fasting as well as the negative things that may come up. Your body will be going through a detoxification process; especially during the first 3 days. It will be uncomfortable and you may not feel well at first. If you know what to expect and that certain things are only temporary—it will help you stick with the fast when the temptation to quit comes.
It will also help you understand the spiritual, mental, and physical benefits of fasting. We are spirit, soul, and body. Fasting affects the whole person. It often brings an increase of God’s presence and feelings of connectedness with the Lord—but there are many other health benefits as well. If you understand what great value a 40 day fast can add to your life it will make it easier to resist the temptation to compromise during your fast.
14. Expect a Breakthrough & To Encounter God
In Daniel chapter 10 we see what happens in the spiritual realm when we fast. Daniel mourned and fasted for 3 weeks as he sought answers from God concerning his nation. We see that on the 21st day of the fast an angel appeared to him. The angel explained that as soon as he set his face towards God that an answer was sent from heaven but was delayed in getting to him due to demonic opposition. The archangel Michael had to help this angel break through the demonic resistance.
Fasting does something in the spiritual realm. When it’s combined with prayer it’s like nuclear power in the Spirit. There is often a tangible increase in the manifested power and presence of God (sometimes it can be sensed during the fast and other times it can be sensed after the fast). Every time we fast and pray things are shifted in the Spirit. Expect a breakthrough on this 40 day fast!
15. Expect Demonic Resistance & Do Not Be Alarmed If It Comes
Announcing a fast is like declaring war. The enemy does not want you to understand the power of prayer AND fasting together. It advances the kingdom of God as believers stand in their authority with fasting and prayer. It is an awesome weapon—more powerful to us then I think we can imagine.
You better believe that the enemy will throw stuff in your way to get you to quit. Sometimes he does this through areas we are weak in—he will bring temptation that is demonically charged—similar to the way Jesus was tempted in the wilderness on his 40 days fast. You must be prepared to resist. If the founder of our faith was tempted and tested on his fast—I think it’s safe to say we may be as well.
If you mess up on your fast and cave into eating food—just keep going! Repent. Accept the fact you that blew it and that God’s grace and goodness is so much bigger than the momentary weakness in your flesh. Continue on with the fast. As Mike Bickle says, “press delete” and keep going.
Sometimes demonic opposition will come in the form of very clear demonic intimidation. A number of times, while on longer fasts, demons have manifested themselves to me at night in-tangible and very real ways. They have hit me with un-natural fear and panic.
During my first 7 day juice fast 16 years ago I woke up terrorized on night 3 of my fast. The fear that I was about to die enveloped me. I had gone for almost 3 days without food and started getting hit with thoughts that I had to eat or I would die. Back then I didn’t understand that this was a demonic tactic of the enemy to get me to quit. He didn’t by the way. I completed this particular fast—but I’ve failed on my fair share too.
Nowadays demons don’t try to hide the fact they are messing with me. I know they are real. They know I know they are real. They just come as themselves. I usually don’t see them but I can physically and spiritually feel them. Warfare is heightened in my life before a season of breakthrough. Fasting usually precedes breakthrough. I don’t judge a fast by what I sense or feel. God is moving whether I’m able to discern it in my senses or not!
Expect some warfare as to not be alarmed when it comes.
Books I’ve Read & Recommend On Fasting
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My two favorite books on fasting. I’ve read these both many times: