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What Does Fasting Mean In The Bible

Fasting Guidelines And Information

What is Fasting in Christianity – Biblical Fasting

But the days will come when the Bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.

Matthew 9:15

Fasting begets prophets and strengthens strong men. Fasting makes lawgivers wise it is the souls safeguard, the bodys trusted comrade, the armor of the champion, the training of the athlete.

Basil, Bishop of Caesarea

Fasting opens the way for the outpouring of the Spirit and the restoration of Gods house. Fasting in this age of the absent Bridegroom is in expectation of His return. Soon there will be the midnight cry, Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him. It will be too late then to fast and to pray. The time is now.

Gods Chosen Fast, Arthur Wallis

There has been a resurgence of fasting in recent decades, as God calls His people to regular fasting as part of a normal Christian lifestyle. We must prepare ourselves adequately so that the fast can honor God and fulfill its purpose. The following is a general overview of biblical precedent and guidelines for wise fasting to help and encourage you.

More Questions About Spiritual Fasting

How Long Should I Fast?

Fasting, especially from food, should be limited to a determined length of time. Fasting for too long can cause harm to the body.

While I hesitate to state the obvious, your decision to fast should be guided by the Holy Spirit. Also, I highly recommend, especially if you’ve never fasted, that you seek both medical and spiritual counsel before embarking on any type of prolonged fast. While Jesus and Moses both fasted for 40 days without food and water, this was clearly an impossible human achievement, only accomplished through the Holy Spirit’s empowerment.

How Often Can I Fast?

New Testament Christians practiced prayer and fasting regularly. Since there is no biblical command to fast, believers should be led by God through prayer concerning when and how often to fast.

How To Fast According To Scripture

When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. ~ Matthew 6:16-18

Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, Why do we and the Pharisee fast, but your disciples do not fast? And Jesus said to them, Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved. ~ Matthew 9:14-17

Meg Bucher gives a summary for fasting saying, “Fasting is a form of worship, an acknowledgment that we need God more than food. Fasting is not the same as a diet nor is losing weight the goal of a fast. Gratitude for the food God provides gives worship to God! In all we do, the aim is to keep God on the throne of our hearts, the center of our lives, and the top of our minds.”

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Grow In Spiritual Strength

After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.

Matthew 4:2

Jesus fasted for forty days.

Forty days.

Its hard for me to fathom what His body would have felt like during that time.

Im imagining His human form felt quite weak.

Yet, He stood strong against the relentless temptation Satan kept shoving in His face.

He wasnt relying on a protein-filled breakfast or a good night of sleep for his mental sharpness to stand up to the devil.

He relied completely on Gods strength during His fast.

Fasting can strengthen us spiritually when we choose to stand on Gods Word in our own human frailty.

Types Of Fasting In The Bible

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Regular Fast Traditionally, a regular fast means refraining from eating all food. Most people still drink water or juice during a regular fast. When Jesus fasted in the desert, the Bible says, After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. This verse does not mention Jesus being thirsty, but we do not have clear instructions on this.

Partial Fast This type of fast generally refers to omitting a specific meal from your diet or refraining from certain types of foods. Daniel 10:2-3 says, At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food no meat or wine touched my lips and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over. In Daniel 1:12, they restricted their diet to vegetables and water: Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink.

A Daniel fast is a popular fast for new and experienced believers who fast.

Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust. Acts 14:23

Liquid Fast this is a type of partial fast that eliminates solid food, but allows for water, juice and in some cases, broth.

Full or Complete Fast These fasts are absolute no food and no drink. Acts 9:9 describes when Paul went on a full fast for three days following his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus:

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To Express Love And Worship For God

Fasting can show, as John Piper says, that what we hunger for most, we worship.

How should we equip ourselves when God calls us to declare a holy fast? Here are some things to consider as you prepare for fasting:

Pray and confess your sinsA necessary step before fasting is to humble yourself before God and confess your sins . Prayer should be our sustenance throughout the fast, but it is imperative we begin the fast with a contrite heart.

Turn to ScriptureSpend additional time meditating on Gods Word, before and during the fast.

Keep it secretFasting is unbiblical and even spiritually harmful when we do it to show off our spirituality or when we focus more on our own fasting than on the clear needs of others . Dont boast about your fast tell people you wont be eating only if necessary. Fasting should not be done when imposed for false motives .

Prepare your bodyFasting, especially for days or weeks, can have unexpected and even detrimental effects on your health. There is no scriptural warrant for harming yourself to undergo a fast. Be sure to consult a doctor before starting any fasting regimen to make sure you can fast in a healthy manner.

Fasting is an appropriate bodily reaction to the grievous state of our soul. If it is done correctly you can expect many results, including growing closer to God, feeling more solidarity with those who suffer, and increasing self-control.

Why Fast And The Benefits Of Biblical Fasting

There are many reasons why you might want to practice fasting. All have a focus on creating intimacy with God through recognizing our dependence on Him.

2. Spiritual strength against a spiritual attack by the enemy.

3. To break free from the bondage of sin or demonic activity. .

4. To help us hear the voice of God

5. To focus on prayer and help us pray with the right heart and motivation.

6. To awaken a spiritual hunger for God.

7. To allow God to reveal what desires and temptations we have allowed to control us.

8. To temporarily give up good things to make room for things are even better.

9. To reveal sin that we might not be actively aware of.

10. To demonstrate to God that our love and desire for Him is greater than any earthly thing.

11. To increase our intimacy with Him.

12. To intervene in prayer on behalf of others.

13. To ask God for healing for ourselves or others.

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What Does The Bible Say About Fasting

Curtis Mitchells article in Bibliotheca Sacra, Vol 147 #588 Oct 1990 answers this question well.

The Practice of Fasting in the New Testament

Is religious fasting a legitimate practice for today? If it is, how and why should it be practiced? This article studies each reference to fasting in the New Testament to seek answers to these questions.

Fasting as Practiced and Taught in the Gospels

Fasting as Practiced and Taught in the Book of Acts

Fasting as Practiced and Taught in the Epistles

Fasting in the Postapostolic Church

Why Should You Fast

What is the Purpose of Fasting?

According to Dr. Bill Bright, who produced a guide to fasting for cru.org, there are a number of reasons why the practice of fasting can be spiritually beneficial.

  • Fasting is biblical. We see examples of biblical fasting in the lives of figures like Moses, Jesus, and King David.
  • Fasting and prayer can restore or strengthen your intimacy with God. Many longtime Christians find that fasting helps them rediscover their first love for God again.
  • Fasting is a way to humble yourself in the sight of God . King David said, I humbled my soul with fasting . You may find yourself relying on God more fully for strength when you fast.
  • Fasting and prayer can help us hear God more clearly. To listen to God as you fast, consider combining a time of fasting with a practice of listening prayer. Together, fasting and prayer can transform your prayer life into a richer and more personal experience of God.
  • Fasting enables the Holy Spirit to reveal your true spiritual condition. When you see your own brokenness more clearly, youre able to move toward repentance.
  • When you experience revival in your own life through fasting, the grace and love of God can shine through you into the lives of others.

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Seeking The Holy Spirits Guidance

So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.

Acts 13:3

It would seem that the church here fasted for guidance from the Holy Spirit. They didnt know what to do next, but they ached for Gods direction.

And this particular instance of fasting happened after Christs coming.

This fasting was not about legalism.

This was a deep hunger in these people searching for guidance of the churchs next steps.

Biblical Examples Of Fasting

Fasting is a tool that has been used by Gods people throughout Biblical history, and it is still a powerful way for Christians to deepen their relationship with God. We see fasting documented all throughout the Bible, and is frequently referenced as an act of worship that is accompanied by prayer and repentance.

Here are a few examples of fasting that we see in the Bible:

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How Do We Apply These Fasts In The Bible To Our Lives Today

As the Bible says: Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 1 Corinthians 10:11 ESV. They are examples, instructions, to strengthen us, encourage us and empower our walk with God. Not just for our comfort, but so that we might be strong in the Lord, in the power of His might and be able to be that Light in the dark, dark world we find ourselves living in.

Fasting with a right spirit, for the right reasons, truly does get Gods attention. We dont do it to be seen or heard or to make ourselves something we are not. It is all about Jesus, and when the glory goes to Him, we will see the miraculous and be a part of a great and necessary awakening in these last and glorious days until we see the coming of the Lord.

Which types of fasting in the Bible has impacted you the most? Did you learn about a new one in this article?

*Related:Get a free copy of our Daniel Fast meal plan when you join our email list.

This post about the types of Biblical fasting was compiled by our guest contributor, Nannette Elkins, who has served as a pastors wife, missionary, speaker, and teacher. She also authored The Daniel Fast Devotional: A 21 Day Journey of Faith, available on Amazon.

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Why Do Christians Fast What Does Biblical Fasting Accomplish

What Does It Mean to Pray Without Ceasing

Biblical fasting is not a hunger strike between you and God. It can be easy to think of fasting as a way to add an extra oomph to your prayers. But biblical fasting isnt so much about how God responds to your prayers: its more about how you bring your prayers to Him.

God opposes the proud, but shows favor to the humble . Fasting is a means of humbling ourselves before God. In the Old Testament, fasting was often accompanied by other signs of humility and brokenness, such as weeping, mourning, and lamenting, as well as wearing sackcloth and sitting in ashes.

Bill Bright, Crus co-founder, made it his practice to fast and pray. He believed it played a vital role in what God did through him and through Cru as a ministry. He listed several benefits he gained from fasting:

  • Fasting is a biblical way to truly humble yourself in the sight of God. King David said, I humbled myself with fasting .
  • Fasting enables the Holy Spirit to reveal your true spiritual condition, resulting in brokenness, repentance and a transformed life.
  • Your confidence and faith in God will be strengthened. You will feel mentally, spiritually and physically refreshed.

Its important to understand that fasting is not a way to get a better response to prayer. Rather, true fasting is a means of fostering a better approach to prayer.

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How To Do A Biblical Fast

There are two types of fasts commonly practiced by Christians today:

1. A partial fast. This is described in the book of Daniel. For three weeks, Daniel, who was a prophet during a time when Israel lived in exile, abstained only from delicacies like meat and wine .

2. A complete fast. A complete fast means drinking only water or sometimes juice when fasting for an extended period. Juice fasts will provide you with more energy than water-only fasts and still lead you into the humbling experience of denying your desire for solid, chewable food.

If you are new to fasting, start slow. Progressive steps help your body become accustomed to the drop in food intake. You can start by fasting for one meal a day, one day a week or one week a month.

Fasting Is Always Voluntary

Though spiritual leaders may invite others to join in corporate fasting with a specific goal in mind and for a specific time, fasting can never be forced or made compulsory. In light of this, fasting is not a mandatory requirement for joining staff at the International House of Prayer, but we do promote and encourage it as a biblically and historically proven means of positioning our heart to receive more of Gods grace in the context of commitment to prayer and to the Word . The level at which a person engages in fasting should be determined according to age and with regard to any physical limitations. Those with a known or suspected physical disability or illness, or those with any history of an eating disorder, should never fast, except in consultation with, and under the supervision of, a qualified doctor. Pregnant or nursing mothers should not fast food or drink as it could negatively affect the health and development of their baby and their own personal health.

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Why Should I Fast 7 Examples Of Fasting In The Bible

Although the Bible doesnt give a direct command on this issue, examples of fasting appear in both the Old and the New Testaments. One of the most telling passages in which fasting is mentioned is Matthew 6:16, where Jesus is teaching His disciples basic principles of godly living. When speaking on fasting, He begins with, When you fast, not If you fast.

Jesus words imply that fasting will be a regular practice in His followers lives.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his book The Cost of Discipleship, said, Jesus takes it for granted that His disciples will observe the pious custom of fasting. Strict exercise of self-control is an essential feature of the Christian life. Such customs have only one purpose to make the disciples more ready and cheerful to accomplish those things which God would have done.

Fasting prepares you for the works God has ordained for you to do.

Wesley Duewel, a twentieth-century writer, said, You and I have no more right to omit fasting because we feel no special emotional prompting than we have a right to omit prayer, Bible reading, or assembling with Gods children for lack of some special emotional prompting. Fasting is just as biblical and normal a part of a spiritual walk of obedience with God as are these others.

People fast for a number of reasons. Following are seven circumstances in the Bible in which believers sought God through this discipline.

Fasting is a much-needed discipline in the life of a believer.

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Different Types Of Fasting In The Bible

WHAT DOES FASTING REALLY MEAN & IT’S TYPES?

JaimeBible StudyJanuary 20, 2021

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There are many types of fasting in the Bible, various reasons for fasting, and different lengths of fasts. All are important and good to refer to when we are fasting to draw closer to God. Fasting without prayer is pointless it is a given that the time you would be spending eating or enjoying other things would be spent instead in prayer and consecration. Those two together will move heaven and earth! This is what makes Biblical fasting different than other types of fasting.

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