God’s invited me into the spiritual discipline of fasting in deeper ways this year. I’m no fasting phenom, but I’m growing in the practice. I was thinking about it the other day and I realized one of its most practical benefits: a lower grocery bill. For the single person, fasting one day a week should theoretically reduce food expenses by over 14%. In a tight budget, this could make a big difference.
Add a longer fast once a month on top of that—say 3-7 days—and now you’re really cutting into the bill. You could be looking at at a 20-30% reduction in food purchases. Besides, how many of us really need to eat as much food as we do anyway? Billions of people around the world get by eating far less than most of us do.
Another perk before I move on (actually, there’s another one, too) is that in getting regular with fasting, it’s caused me to change how I eat in the days leading up to and following my fasting days, especially when doing a multi-day fast. The last thing you want to cram down your throat the day before a three-day fast is a steak, cheeseburger or a bunch of high-fat dairy. Your body will let you know it was a bad idea. You want to fill up on nutritious and easily-digestible foods that ease your system into preparedness for living off water or juices for a few days. That, in turn, could reduce food expenses even further.
The next way to improve your finances is kind of the opposite of fasting in that it’s totally “impractical”—at least from a worldly perspective. If you’re stretched for money, give more away. That’s the nature of the kingdom we’re part of: where the first are last and the last are first; where it’s more blessed to give that to receive; where our cry is that we decrease so that He can increase; where we seek first His kingdom and its righteousness and all these things (material needs are the context) will be added to us.
In this area, too, I’m no pro. Sure, I tithe. And I offer on top of that. But I haven’t yet pushed my giving to the point of pain. And I believe it’s primarily in passing into that threshold of pain where we will experience God’s supernatural provision the most. Numerous ministers I’ve heard say that when people state: “I can’t afford to give”, the reality is that they can’t afford NOT to give.
I’m certainly not doing this topic justice, because there’s so much to it. But the scripture where God most blatantly explains the blessing of giving and the curse of not is Malachi 3:8-12:
8 “ Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me!
But you say,
‘ In what way have we robbed You?’
In tithes and offerings.
9 You are cursed with a curse,
For you have robbed Me,
Even this whole nation.
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the LORD of hosts,
“ If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.
11 “ And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes,
So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground,
Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,”
Says the LORD of hosts;
12 And all nations will call you blessed,
For you will be a delightful land,”
Says the LORD of hosts.
Simply put: withholding tithes and offerings from God places us in a curse; giving back to him just a portion of what we’ve been given positions us to receive from God “such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.” And while He’s at it, He’ll rebuke that which attempts to devour.
What a promise! What inheritance we have as His sons and daughters! What a King we serve! Let’s “try Him now in this.”
1. Another practical benefit of fasting regularly is simple calorie reduction—as long as you don’t overeat when entering into or coming out of the fast. Giving up the standard 2,000 calorie daily intake once-a-week can make a difference if you’re trying to lose, or simply maintain, your weight. 3,500 calories, they say, equals a pound of fat. Create a calorie deficit (amount you take in vs. the amount your burn) of this amount every two weeks, and you could theoretically lose over two pounds a month.