Should you stop dating for a period of time? Would it be good for your heart to spend a season of just pursuing God so that you can stop idolizing relationships? Is it ever helpful to fast from Christian dating?
For some Christian singles it is wise to go through a season of time where you are not pursuing a relationship and you are focusing solely on the Lord. I do believe, therefore, that fasting from Christian dating is a good idea for some people, but not all people. Here are some ways fasts are used within the Bible:
- A biblical fast is when you give something up for a period of time to focus more directly on God. Usually a biblical fast is when someone goes without food as a way of dedicating their full attention on God. It is an outward expression of someone’s inner desire to be fully satisfied in God.
- A biblical fast is often a time of intensified prayer as one seeks God’s direction on an important decision that needs to be made, “And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed” (Acts 14:23).
- A biblical fast is often used as a time of seeking God’s special favor for a specific request or desire:
Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods. For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, “The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him.” So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty.” (Ezra 8:21-23)
Reasons Not to Fast from Christian Dating
Before talking about why a Christian single might fast from dating, I think it’s wise to first discuss some reasons Christian singles should not fast from dating and relationship desires.
You should not use fasting to barrage God with prayer requests and to demand him to give you what you want. It should not used like a hunger strike. I’ve heard fasting referred to as the “spiritual H-bomb” by some unbiblical leaders, meaning that if you fast God will explode blessings on you. If you fast for the job you want, if you fast for the people to come to your church, or if you fast for a relationship, God is more likely to bless you because you are suffering for him.
This is very unbiblical for a variety of reasons. A fast is not an opportunity to store up spiritual points in heaven. This mentality is rooted in a works theology. A fast is not an opportunity to “suffer for Jesus” in hopes that God will bless you in return. In the Bible we are not called to suffer in return for God’s blessings like spiritual mercenaries. Anything good in life comes from God’s grace. We are to serve and suffer for Christ because God has already given us his grace, not so we can earn God’s grace.
So you should not fast from Christian dating as a way of trying to manipulate God for what you want. God doesn’t need his arm twisted to bless you. God has a plan to give you good before you even ask him (Matthew 6:8). Fasting has many benefits, but using it to bang on the doors God has shut is not biblical.
Fast from Christian Dating If You Are Idolizing Relationships
One of the best reasons to go on a fast from dating or even mentally thinking about dating is if you know you are idolizing relationships. If you know you are placing all your hope for joy in a relationship rather than in God himself, a fast might really help you repent of this sin.
One danger with fasting after sin is that you might think to be forgiven you must punish yourself by giving something up so that God will forgive you. This would be fasting with an unbiblical motive. If you repent and ask God to forgive you for idolizing relationships, you are forgiven by his grace and not because of your works.
Fasting is not a means of being forgiven, but it can help you repent. In other words fasting can help you turn the other direction, away from sin and towards God. You don’t need to give up your desire for a relationship, you need to sanctify your desire for a relationship. Fasting can help with this.
Fast from Relationships If You Just Got Out of a Relationship Where Sin Occurred
Another reason you might want to fast from relationships is if you just got out of relationship where sin occurred. Again, the point here would not be to fast from relationships so you will be forgiven. Rather, the point would be to fast so you could intentionally turn the other direction and towards God.
If you just jump into a new relationship after you just got out of a relationship where sexual sin occurred, emotional sin occurred, or verbal sin occurred, it is unlikely that you will have had time to grow and learn what you need to learn so you do not repeat the same sins in your new relationship.
Fast to Sanctify Your Relationship Desires and So You Can Better Pray in Alignment with God’s Will
Perhaps the best reason to fast from Christian dating and thinking about relationships is so that your relationship desires can be sanctified and then your prayers will be empowered.
In short, powerful prayers are prayers that are in alignment with the will of God. If you pray for something that is not God’s will for your life, God will not answer that prayer. If you want God to answer your prayers, you have to pray God’s will for your life:
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” (1 John 5:14-15)
Throughout Scripture prayer and fasting are linked. One reason I believe they go so well together is not because through suffering in fasting you are earning points with God and thus empowering your prayers; but rather when you fast you are being sanctified and your heart is submitting to God, which then causes you to align your desires with God’s desires which causes you to pray prayers that are in alignment with God’s will.
If you go through a season of focusing solely on God, you will then be prepared to pray about your relationships in a way that is more in tune with the Holy Spirit’s leading in your life.