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Fasting To Break Pornography Addiction And Control Lustful Behavior (5 Powerful Benefits)

A depiction of fasting and its benefits..
Fasting is the reset button for the soul.

In this chapter, I delve into a discipline that has helped many to achieve progress in the area of sexual integrity. The ancients fasted out of necessity, or to cure illnesses (e.g. 5th century B.C. Hippocrates). Followers of major world religions have fasted for thousands of years. For example, Christians, Jews, and Muslims have scheduled fast days throughout the year. Heroes of the Bible, like Moses, Elijah, Daniel, Esther, and Jesus fasted. Jesus, in Matthew 6, said to his disciplines “When you fast,” not if… In my article on Fasting Can Break The Power of Addiction, I described fasting as “the atomic bomb of personal growth.” \

A dominant ideology of the 21st century is consumerism. The thought of skipping a meal is blasphemy to many people, despite the respected status of fasting in the history of human evolution, human medicine, and spirituality. Having said that, there are countless testimonies online of people who have fasted and lived to speak about the various physical, mental, and spiritual benefits they have experienced.

To be sure, I have been fasting on and off for years. I used to practice intermittent fasting as a lifestyle for the health benefits. I’ve completed numerous 3-day fasts to date. I’ve done other fasts of differing lengths, with and without water or calories, on a semi-regular basis.

Without further ado, I elaborate five of the most powerful benefits of fasting for people trying to break free from a pornography habit or addiction.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and do not give medical advice. Do your research and consult a professional before doing a fast of any length.

1. Fasting trains self-control

A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.

Proverbs 25:28

Fasting develops the skill of delayed gratification. Fasting says that just because we have an impulse, that doesn’t mean we have to act on it now—and in some cases, ever. Fasting increases our capacity to refrain from acting on bad impulses—like lusting, stealing, and violence—and to delay acting on good impulses—like eating, drinking, and having sex—until when the time is right. If self-control sounds bland, keep in mind that a lack of it can literally ruin our lives.

2. Fasting trains willpower

Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.

Mahatma Gandhi

The best way to think of willpower is not as some shapeless behavioral trait but as a sort of psychic muscle, one that can atrophy or grow stronger depending on how it’s used.

Jeffrey Kluger

It takes willpower to achieve anything in life. A goal as worthy as freedom from pornography is certainly no exception. To be sure, willpower isn’t the be-all and end-all. It is an axiom that people are largely products of their environments. However, environments can be changed, and willpower is needed to do so. As I like to say, the man makes the environment, and the environment makes the man. Indeed, willpower is a great asset, and fasting is a tool to strengthen it.

3. Fasting retrains the way the brain views pornography

The brain seeks pleasure and avoids pain. If you have a strong impulse to view pornography, that is because your brain associates it with pleasure. Fasting, especially after a relapse, can retrain the brain to associate pornography with pain instead of pleasure. It works like this. During a fast, we experience pain in the form of discomfort. In this discomfort, as we meditate on the consequences of our actions, the association between pornography and pain gets strengthened. While fasting in this manner, we are effectively saying, “Hey brain, look what got us here. Remember that pleasure? This is what pornography really feels like.”  

4. Fasting is an aid to processing unresolved emotions and traumas

Not all addictions are rooted in abuse or trauma, but I do believe they can all be traced to painful experience.

Gabor Mate

The fact is that everyone medicates emotions with food, even people who maintain a healthy weight. Food is emotionally gratifying, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, sometimes it pays to give up feeling good now to feel even better in the future. When we fast, we come face to face with our fears, anger, and sadness. When we fast, the emotional garbage of our souls gets taken out. Fasting, which has therapeutic potential, should never be confused with starvation, which is psychologically devastating:

Fasting is completely different from starvation in one crucial way: control. Starvation is the involuntary abstention from eating… Fasting, on the other hand, is the voluntary abstention from eating for spiritual, health, or other reasons. Food is readily available, but you choose not to eat it. No matter what your reason for abstaining, the fact that fasting is voluntary is a critical distinction.

Jason Fung

Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?

Isaiah 58:6

5. Fasting is a tool to build a stronger relationship with God.

To the spiritually-minded, fasting is a double-edged sword. Not only do we reap the secular, universal benefits of fasting, but we can use it as a means to grow closer to God. As I mentioned in the intro, the great prophets of the Bible fasted, including Jesus. Let us not forget that Jesus was fasting when he overcame temptation by the devil. And believers throughout history have followed in his footsteps. When we fast, we obey God. We create space in our hearts, minds, and emotions for God to intervene. And, in my experience, he often does.

As Pastor Robert Morris said, the key to having a pure heart, and that includes the sexual area, is spending time with the pure one, who is God. Fasting, when done right, facilitates fellowship with God.

Note that fasting is not simply a mechanical exercise. The state of our hearts will influence results. This is why people are routinely advised to prepare their hearts in advance. I personally have found that shorter fasts I undertake with love and humility on my mind are more beneficial than longer ones I undertake with a spirit of fear or self-righteousness.

Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high.

Isaiah 58:4

In sum, I would say that fasting is a cheat code, but cheating is easy, whereas fasting is a discipline that requires effort. As a general rule, if we’re willing to give effort in an area, we will see positive change, whether it takes place overnight or after a period of persistence.

For the complete archive of articles, click here.

An intellectually curious millennial passionate about seeing people make healthy, informed choices about the moral direction of their lives. When I’m not reading or writing, I enjoy hiking, web-making, learning foreign languages, and watching live sports. Alumnus of Georgetown University (B.S.) and The Ohio State University (M.A.).


  1. Oh. My. Sparkly. Purple. Toesocks!!!
    This post hit me exactly 💯% where I am. Who SAYS the internet is only a tool 🔧of the devil?! #OVERCOMEEVILWITHGOOD
    I have personally proved the truth of these things during the last year. Fasting is the Christian’s secret weapon.
    Thank you my friend.
    #truth #courage-building #significantandstrangelysatisfying

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