What If I Quit My Fast Early?

Recently one of my close friends asked me a simple question, “Is there anything on your site about what to do if I fail during my fast?” Well, now there is.

She was interested because of the guilt, shame, and condemnation that she felt as a result of breaking her fast early. She wondered if she should finish the fast – if she had forfeited the things that she was fasting for – and what the bible had to say about these things.

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To put it simply, we all will feel some remorse when we experience failure in our lives. As it concerns fasting, sometimes we set the bar too high for ourselves, other times we fall for the temptations that Satan sets in front of us. But in all of this we have to keep a couple things in mind if we break our fasts prematurely.

1. Failure is the Reason God Made Mercy: 

When we fail we have a tendency to forget the power of God to pick us back up. Many people get so beat down when they fail in their fasts that they may choose to never fast again. The pain of failure is so intense that some people never want to feel that way again because they feel that they not only have failed themselves, but failed God as well. (Romans 8:1, John 8:36, Lamentations 3:22-23).

Know that God is rich in His mercy and that His mercy is waiting for you afresh every day. One of the hardest parts about mercy and forgiveness is exercising those things on ourselves. Forgive yourself, and don’t think for one minute that your failure disqualifies you from finishing well the next time you fast.

2. Failure is the Reason God Made Grace:

God’s love not only forgives us for our failures (Mercy) but empowers us (Grace) to be successful. One great thing about our Lord is that we can access His power to accomplish the impossible at ANY TIME. We don’t have to rely on our own will power to make it through our fasts. We can access His grace to keep us during our fasts. Its not all up to us, we only have to have faith in Him. (Hebrews 4:16, Acts 4:33, Hebrews 12:15)

Fasting is a marathon. If you attempted to run a marathon with no previous training you would likely give up in the first couple of miles, but this would not be a reason to forsake running all together. This would just show you that you have some work to do in order to get to the point where you could successfully accomplish your goal. Fasting is only different in that the training is not physical, but spiritual. If you fail once there is no reason to think that you will stumble again next time. YOU CAN DO IT!

Fasting is kind of like what people say about getting a tattoo; no matter how many tattoos you have, it hurts every time. Fasting physically hurts every single time you do it because it puts you in a position of discomfort, sometimes extreme discomfort. This extreme discomfort can make a person more prone to temptation.

Let’s identify some of these temptations so that we can know how to combat them. Knowing the tricks of the enemy is the first step in overcoming his attempts to derail us from completing our fasts and forfeiting the promises of God that we are praying for. Interestingly, the temptations that take us down are often the same ones that Satan tried to use on Jesus in the Book of Matthew.

1. The Temptation to Eat:

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”              – Matthew 4:1-3 NASB

It seems like every time I fast somebody tries to offer me free food. For some reason people’s generosity seems to increase during my seasons of fasting. I’m not saying that this is from the devil, but it is a form of temptation that we have to endure. For Jesus, His fast was actually over, but the discipline gained during His fast was being attacked (that’s worthy of a blog post by itself).

We have to have a resolve within ourselves to finish and set ourselves up for victory by using a few simple steps to avoid eating the things we aren’t supposed to.

– Have Accountability: if possible include someone in the fast. Tell a friend, spouse, church member, mentor or someone you respect that you are fasting. Give them the details of your restrictions and ask them to hold you accountable to sticking to them.

– Have Reminders: do things that remind you that you are fasting and what you are fasting for. This creates a mental refresher of the urgency of your fast. Wear a wristband or rubber band that reminds you of the fast, place cell phone alarm reminders that chime at meal times with a message of encouragement, have friends check up on you, etc. Set yourself up for victory by doing things like this.

2. The Temptation to Twist the Word to Reduce our Commitment:

Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, ‘HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU’; and ‘ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP, SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.'” Jesus said to him, ” On the other hand, it is written, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.'” – Matthew 4:5-7 NASB

Either from external sources or from within ourselves the Word is twisted to allow us to compromise. During a fast I have been guilty of making excuses that allow me to break the fast early. I’ll say things to myself like, “Its ok, I’ve already fasted for __ number of days, so God has heard me”, “I think I got the answer to my fast already”, and “I’m not really sure I’m supposed to be fasting anyway.”

I enter the fast with confidence but somewhere along the way I loose my resolve and make excuses that cause me to twist the promises of God as I attempt to give myself a loop hole to make the fast a little easier, or even to quit. Satan also tried to twist God’s promises to get Jesus to transgress the word of God. We can avoid this pitfall by doing what Jesus did.

– Speak the Word of God with Understanding: when confronted with our own thoughts to end the fast early, simply due to normal discomfort, we should encourage ourselves in the word of God. If you don’t have any scriptures, here are some that are useful to me in my times of weakness.

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'” – Matthew 4:4

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13

3. Our Expectation of God (The Answer to Our Prayer) is Delayed: 

Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD,AND SERVE HIM ONLY.'” Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him. – Matthew 4:8-11 NASB

The interesting thing about this temptation is that Jesus was destined to regain all the kingdoms of the world anyway. In the temptation that Satan brought against Jesus in the wilderness, the final strategy was to get Jesus to shortcut the promise of God. If we are not careful we will succumb to this same tactic. As we fast we should not only maintain our faith in the promises of God, but also in the timing of God to manifest them. If not we will grow weary and be more likely to give up during the fast believing that God is not going to answer us because He’s taking too long. Again, the word of God is our greatest weapon in these temptations.

– God Will Honor His Promises: He has never lied and will indeed perform everything that He has promised and spoken if we will just believe.

“God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? – Numbers 23:19 NASB

– God’s Timing is Perfect: sometimes its tough for us to have faith in God’s timing when things don’t happen when and how we want. Sometimes we don’t show the patience to wait for God’s answer, but His timing is never slack.

and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” – Mark 1:15

I said to myself, “God will judge both the righteous man and the wicked man,” for a time for every matter and for every deed is there. – Ecclesiastes 3:17

My times are in Your hand; Deliver me from the hand of my enemies and from those who persecute me. – Psalms 31:15

Be encouraged. God is not waiting for you to fail so that He can make you feel bad. He’s waiting for you to repent and rely on His grace to carry you through to future victory the next time. Remember that the men in the bible were human just like you. They had the same access to God’s grace that you have as a believer. If they can finish their fasts so can you.

If you’ve failed in your fasts, get up, dust yourself off, and try again. Under the empowerment of God’s grace you can do it just like the great men in the bible did it.

Have you ever Failed in your fasting? Where you able to overcome it?

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