A conversation about Fasting with Rainer Harter
Part 3

Fasting – Choosing Weakness out of Love – Part 3

A Conversation with Rainer Harter from the Gebetshaus Freiburg

Missed Part 2? Click here


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In the last part of this series we examine:

  • Fasting and eating disorders
  • A lifestyle of fasting
  • How to include fasting in our regular lives

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D: I always understood fasting more as a choice and you are talking about it as more of a lifestyle, do you think this is true for every Christian?

R: Mhm… Good question. Well, in the verse I mentioned before, Jesus said “when the bridegroom is taken away from them, they will fast”. Which means everyone who belongs to Jesus, everyone who is a friend of the bridegroom or is part of His bride. Therefore I believe that, yes, fasting, like prayer, is a normal part of Christian life. I think that there are so few Christians fasting, much like there aren’t so many who are praying regularly, because the understanding of why one would or should do that is missing. I don’t know how it is in America, or Canada, but it is interesting to me that in Germany books like “Simplify your life” sell very well. Because people realize that being full doesn’t make them happy. And strangely enough, we Christians lag behind in that respect. Yet the Bible says, if you gained the whole world, but lost your soul, it’s of no use. We have forgotten why we pray or why we can fast.

[mks_pullquote align=”left” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#020202″][mks_separator style=”solid” height=”2″]I would suggest to every beginner to look for lessons, read books, and find a couple friends to talk to about what works, and what doesn’t, what was hard.[mks_separator style=”solid” height=”2″][/mks_pullquote]
I also want to emphasize that fasting is also a sacrifice. Fasting is something that creates discomfort. It’s my personal conviction that fasting is very, very important for my spiritual development. I believe that if I hadn’t fasted I would not have grown as quickly in my calling. It’s still a slow growth, but much faster than if I didn’t fast.[mks_highlight color=”#FDB2D1″] Fasting is a real spiritual turbo boost. Not in the sense of “I want that boost”, but “I want Him”, and because I want Him, I’m changed on the inside. And that creates that boost, not the fasting itself, but this sacrifice that I make to show “I want you”, and then things pick up speed spiritually in my life.[/mks_highlight]


D: So just a couple more questions for you.

I have heard from a number of mainly women over the last years who have been uncomfortable with the idea of fasting food because of their history with eating disorders and so for them not eating can trigger feelings of very dark periods in their life and they are concerned that this could come back again. What could you recommend to people that are afraid?


R: Do not abstain from food. Don’t force yourself to do it just because you think you should.
On the other hand, if your mental state allows you to grapple with fasting, I wouldn’t automatically rule it out. Perhaps at some point after looking into it and learning about it, one could try again to abstain from food, but I wouldn’t do it if there was still fear.


I could imagine that this realization of “food is so important in my life; why?”, that dealing with that question can make fasting more beautiful. Because it increases the value. “This is important to me, and I want to give it to You.”

But hear me,[mks_highlight color=”#FDB2D1″] I want to get to the point where I can give it freely, not feeling that I have to.[/mks_highlight] And I would think that this can be a beneficial way of dealing with it. But I don’t know, I’m not in that situation. We once had someone in one of our training groups who struggled with anorexia when they were younger. Somehow, we didn’t know that, but then that person realized that fasting evoked so many emotions from that time that they just couldn’t do it anymore, and that is perfectly OK.


D: What are some practical suggestions for someone that wants to include some regular fasting in their life. Would it be better to do it for example on a working day when you are busy and don’t think about it or is it better when it is quiet, is that relative?


R: That is subjective because many people say they need to eat in order to be able to work. It works fine for me, but I notice that I can’t concentrate so well on my fasting day. It becomes better over time during multiple fasting days. Then there are also people who really can’t do any work at all if they haven’t eaten. A work day wouldn’t be the best for them.

I would for sure find a couple of friends to begin a fast with together. Not to check up on one another, but to experience the encouragement that we see happening here in the protected areas of our training groups. There, people are allowed to fail, they’re allowed to have their own experiences and they’re allowed to celebrate great successes. We share with each other, and it’s a beautiful example when I know, “Today, Danielle and Simon and Johanna and I are all together in this”. It connects us and somehow it’s such an encouragement for me.
being full doesn't make us happy
I would suggest to every beginner to look for lessons, read books, and find a couple friends to talk to about what works, and what doesn’t, what was hard.

You need to have a certain consequence . Someone has to set their clock to 6:00am so they can wake up in time for work at 7:00am. So then, If I fast, it’s going to cost me something. I have to be prepared that on such and such day, that is going to be the day I consciously give God. So I’m not going to put myself into temptation and go to a café. Instead, I’d rather meet or call those people who are in the same situation as myself to encourage and pray with one another.

D: What does fasting look like for you, do you do like 24 hours till the next morning or night till night?

R: I can only give you an answer that isn’t found in the Bible. For me, I would have the feeling that if I fast until the evening, I’ve suffered all day and then end up eating anyway. Then I have a giant tummy and I go to bed feeling unhealthy. I’m exaggerating a bit of course. So when I fast, I do it a whole day and whole night. Everything else isn’t really for me, I’m an all in or all out kind of person. But for others that looks totally different, and that’s absolutely OK.

D: I think those all of the questions I have, but is there anything else you would like to add to this?

R: I wish that the church would discover the beauty of fasting and that they would see it rather as a wonderful smelling flower than a pipe wrench. The pipe wrench forces something out, the flower is something enjoyable and pleasant.

Thank you so much Rainer Harter for your time and your wisdom!

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<—— Missed Part 2? Click here


For all my Germans speaking friends:

You can also find Rainer on his blog right here: unterWegs Sein

And check out the Gebetshaus(Prayer House) Freiburg website

You can check out his latest book here:

classic prayers

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