4 days later and I still can’t believe another Rez Week has gone by.

There’s something exhilarating about being together with hundreds of other students from different ministries, all unashamedly worshiping Christ as the united Body of Christ on campus. I look forward to it every Spring, and this year was no exception. If anything, I think it gets better every year.

This past Rez Week, after prayer and consideration, we did something that we’ve never done before. We decided to call the students to a Daniel fast.

What is a Fast?

Simply put, fasting is abstaining from some or all food, drink, or both for a period of time, often for a specific spiritual purpose. When we as Christians fast, it’s not only as a form of sacrificial worship to God, but it’s used as a way to draw nearer to Him by using time when we would normally be eating, to pray, read the Bible and listen to what He is speaking to us.

Some people make fasting a regular part of their lifestyle, fasting as much as once or twice a week. Others fast for specific occasions or purposes, ie staying away from sweets during Lent, or fasting for a family member’s salvation or to get God’s direction on a big decision they’re facing in their life.

Different types of Fasting

Fasting can take many forms, but the most common types of fasts are as follows: the Daniel Fast, the liquid fast, and the absolute fast.

  • The Daniel Fast – sometimes known as the vegetarian fast is usually the easiest for people to go on, because rather than eliminating food altogether, it is simply an abstinence from meat (including seafood) and sweets. While some take it a step further and also eliminate eggs, dairy and wheat products like bread, pasta and cheese, it is typically the fast suggested to people who are doing this for the first time. This fast usually takes place for 21 days, in accordance with Daniel’s fast in the Bible. (Daniel 10:3)
  • The Liquid Fast – Like the name suggests, this fast involves no food, and replaces meals with the consumption of liquids such as water or juices. In some cases, people also drink light vegetable or chicken broths. These fasts don’t have a set time period, and can last anywhere from 1 day to a few weeks, depending on how long the person is led to remain on this fast after praying about it.
  • The Absolute Fast – although well-known, this is typically not suggested for anymore than a couple of days. This fast involves complete abstinence from food and water altogether, usually so that the person can spend this period of time in prayer and worship, reading the Bible and hearing from God. While Jesus was known to have done the absolute fast for 40 days and nights (Luke 4:1), this is not recommended unless you 1) have a doctor monitoring you, and 2) are really sure after much prayer and preparation that God is calling you to this kind of fast.

In some cases, if you have a medical condition or some reason that prevents you from fasting from food or drink, some people fast things like watching TV, using facebook or give up coffee or tea. Sometimes people even add these things to one of the above fast. Whatever you decide to give up, the important thing is to be faithful to it.

Why Fast?

A common question that usually arises when someone hears about you fasting is: why fast? What’s the point? And the answer is this: because the Bible tells us to. Matthew 6:16 for example, begins with the words “When you fast…” Notice it’s not “if” or “perhaps”, it is “when.” I don’t know about you, but that seems to suggest that fasting is thought of as something that all Christians should do.

It is important to note that fasting MUST be accompanied by prayer, otherwise it turns into more of a challenge of willpower than anything else. Remember, there is a spiritual purpose to fasting. It is not to see how long you can go without eating or drinking anything, it is a way of sacrificing something material so that we can attune ourselves to what God is speaking to us. And the only way to accomplish that, is to spend time in prayer, listening for His voice.

In our case at UT, we decided to call a fast for the specific purpose of literally starving ourselves of things we like to eat so that we can be open to being immeasurably filled up with God’s spirit and be a generation that is wholly devoted and consecrated to God. Our hope then is that through this fast, students would not only draw closer to God, but also get a greater passion to see revival come to our campus.

Stick with it!

Right now I’m only in Day 2 of the fast, and you won’t believe how already certain things are becoming more tempting than normal. I find myself thinking that a piece of fried chicken or an ice cream sundae would be really good right about now, but that’s obviously off menu.

My point is that fasting though not easy, is a great way to practice discipline, and you’d be surprised by the things that end up tempting you that were never a problem before. But the flip side to it is that it can also be a time where you go deeper in your walk with God than you have in a while.

So if you’ve never fasted, then my encouragement to you would be to go ahead and try a fast. Pray and decide which one you want to do, and see how God works through it. Or, if like me, you’re already on a fast, keep at it! And what is God revealing to you? I’d love to hear the answer!

Kimberly Chung is the National Media Director for Campus Renewal Ministries, a ministry focused on forging partnerships in prayer to build missional communities that transform college campuses with the gospel of Jesus. She is a campus minister to The University of Texas at Austin and can be reached at kim@campusrenewal.org