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.
Two Instructions From Jesus On Fasting
And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
The three great religious practices among the Jews were giving, praying, and fasting. Jesus own ministry began with an epic forty-day fast. Jesus begins, Whenever you fast, because he probably expected his followers would fast, though neither he nor any of the New Testament writers command it.
Jesus offers no technical instructions on when or how to fast, only that fasting should not be for outward show. Apparently, many who fasted made a point of wearing tattered clothing, scrubbing their head with ashes, and stumbling about as though carrying a great burden.
Jesus offers two instructions.
First, when fasting, look normaland cheerful! put oil on your head and wash your face
The oil and water treatment was the everyday norm in Jesus day. Thats just what people did before going out. In fact, since oil was synonymous with gladness , a person should look not only normal but cheerful!
Second, Jesus taught, when fasting, fast for God, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret.
I have food to eat that you know nothing about.
Return To God With Repentance
Even now, declares the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.
Return to me.
What a powerful phrase coming from our Almighty God.
This was a call to repentance, for the people to return to Gods mercy and steadfast love.
And one of the ways to show their truly repentant heart was through fasting.
Even here in the Old Testament, God was not asking for the act of fasting alone. Fasting was a way to show that they desired to return to God with all of their heart.
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The Duration Of The Fast
Fasting can be done on a daily, weekly, or annual basis. Many people who choose to fast do so intermittently, such as during a portion of their workday, to focus on seeking God for an hour or two, and then they go back to a regular eating schedule. Others find benefits in fasting during a certain time of the month or year to pursue guidance and direction from God. Again, the duration and length of your fast are personal decisions only you can make.
Your Personal Reasons For Pursuing A Fast
If youre on the cusp of a major life change, are grieving the loss of a certain individual or period in your life, or are seeking answers from God for an upcoming decision, the reasons you choose to fast are unique to you. Consulting with others about their experiences can be instructive, but your choice to fast and the reasons for your fast are unique to your situation.
Dependent On God Alone
Besides prayer, a major reason to fast is to remind yourself that you are dependent on God alone. Every time your stomach rumbles, it is a reminder that you are not self-sufficient but you are dependent on God who gives us our daily bread . Hunger serves to remind us that bread is not our god. God is our God. Provision for our needs comes from God, not from us. When Satan tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread, Jesus quoted the Old Testament, Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God . n His fasting, Jesus affirmed that He is dependent on God and obedient to Him alone, not to His stomach or any other earthly need. God the Father would meet Jesuss needs when and how He saw fit. Jesus priority must be on obedience to God alone.
Because our bodies and souls are connected, fasting and prayer can help us refocus our hearts and minds upon God and His purposes in our lives. The pain and self-denial of fasting can also help remind us of the pain and self-denial that Jesus endured in order to accomplish our salvation.
Spiritual Preparation For Fasting And Prayer
In preparation for this special time with God, cru.orgs guide to fasting urges that you examine your heart. Ask God to help you see your brokenness clearly so that you can confess your sins and repent. In Scripture, God frequently calls upon people to repent of their sins before listening to their prayers.
You can look to King Davids example in Psalm 66:16-20:
Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for me. I cried aloud to him, and he was extolled with my tongue.If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.But truly God has listened he has given heed to the words of my prayer.
Blessed be God,
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Fasting Is A Necessity For Spreading The Gospel
Once the disciples came to Jesus and told him about a demon-possessed man that they could not cast out demons. After Jesus rebuked the devil and that left the man, the disciples asked Jesus why they couldnt drive it out.
Because of the littleness of your faith for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, Move from here to there, and it will move and nothing will be impossible to you. But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.
Again you can see clearly the same principle that the fast should have a serious reason, in this case, the servants of the Gospel must fast to drive out evil spirits from a man possessed by them.
As you see, the Lord Jesus talked enough about fasting. How will you fast from now on?
Translated by Felicia Djugostran
Bible Verses On Fasting
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9 Bible Verses on Fasting Scripture to show us the value of fasting, praying, seeking, and longing for closeness with God through biblical
Every Lent, I dive a little bit deeper into the idea of fasting.
- Is fasting still relevant today?
- How does fasting bring me closer to God?
- What should I be fasting for anyways?
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What Is The Power Of Prayer And Fasting
Prayer and fasting are powerful disciplines and we see their fruit when we practice them. Isaiah 58:6 shows us the power of prayer and fasting,
Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke?
From the above Scripture, we see that prayer and fasting free us from the bonds of wickedness, relieve us from heavy burdens, free us from oppression, and break the yokes that keep us stuck in life. Prayer and fasting free us from the works of the enemy in our lives, and we can enjoy the blessings of God.
When we fast, we humble ourselves before God and submit to His will. We dont fast to arm-twist God, but to align with His will for our lives. We open the door for God to perform miracles in our lives, and answer our heartfelt prayers to Him.
How Do You Fast
So how do you fast? Everybody does it differently. Some people eat or drink nothing for twenty-four hours, either on a special occasion, or once a week, or once a month. Other people drink water or fruit juice instead of food. Still others dont eat certain types of food for a period of time, or only have one meal instead of three in a single day. Because of personal medical issues, some people cant fast, or they cant fast as intensely as others.
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Misconceptions About The Bibles View Of Fasting
Misconception: The apostle Paul recommended fasting to Christian married couples.1 Corinthians 7:5, King James Version.
Fact: The oldest Bible manuscripts do not mention fasting at 1 Corinthians 7:5.* Evidently, Bible copyists added a reference to fasting, not only to this verse but also to Matthew 17:21 and Acts 10:30. Most modern Bible translations omit these spurious references to fasting.
Misconception: Christians should fast in commemoration of the 40 days that Jesus fasted in the wilderness after his baptism.
Fact: Jesus never commanded such a fast, nor are there any Scriptural indications that early Christians observed it.*
Misconception: Christians should fast when commemorating Jesus death.
Fact: Jesus did not command his disciples to fast when commemorating his death. While Jesus said that his disciples would fast when he died, he was not issuing a command but merely stating what was going to happen. The Bible instructed Christians who were hungry to eat at home before observing the Memorial of Jesus death.1 Corinthians 11:33, 34.
God told the Israelites: You should afflict yourselves, or afflict your souls, on Atonement Day. This expression is understood to refer to fasting. Thus, the Contemporary English Version uses this rendering: You must go without eating to show sorrow for your sins.
See A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, by Bruce M. Metzger, Third Edition, page 554.
Grow In Spiritual Strength
After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.
Jesus fasted for 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.
Seeking The Holy Spirits Guidance
So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.
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.
Should Christians Still Fast Today
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
Jesus did not command fasting, but it was a normal occurrence in His earthly time, and it would have made sense to His followers to take up this practice as a spiritual discipline. Fasting is not just for food, but food is widely used in different types of fasting. Fasting from food should be progressive and can be full or partial. Sam Storms, in his Crosswalk.com article, What Christians Need to Know about Fasting, lists the following different types of fasts: a partial fast, abstaining from a particular food a liquid fast, abstaining from all solid foods an absolute fast, abstaining from all food and liquids, and a supernatural fast, as in Moses refraining from eating or drinking for 40 days.
Fasting could be refraining from Netflix, spending the time it takes to binge a whole season in prayer or dedicate the same amount of time in prayer as our weekly screen time report reveals. Put thought into what you are abstaining from, and your fast can be short, intermittent, or longer. Theres not one type of fast that fits all its important that the fast is between you and God rather than a group fad youre joining.
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Christian Quotes About Fasting
Fasting helps express, deepens, confirms the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves, to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God. Andrew Murray
By fasting, the body learns to obey the soul by praying the soul learns to command the body. William Secker
Fasting restrains our physical pleasure, but it enhances our spiritual pleasure. Our greatest pleasure comes by feasting on the person of Jesus.
Fasting reduces the influence of our self-will and invites the Holy Spirit to do more intense work in us.
Christian fasting, at its root, is the hunger of a homesickness for God.
Prayer is reaching out after the unseen fasting is letting go of all that is seen and temporal. Fasting helps express, deepen, confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God. Andrew Murray
Fasting is abstaining from anything that hinders prayer. Andrew Bonar
Fasting in the biblical sense is choosing not to partake of food because your spiritual hunger is so deep, you determination in intercession so intense, or your spiritual warfare so demanding that you have temporarily set aside even fleshly needs to give yourself to prayer and meditation. Wesley Duewel
How Do I Prepare For Fasting And Praying
Its important to prepare for fasting and prayer so that you will do it successfully. Prepare your heart by focusing on prayer, and removing distractions from your life. You can take a retreat to a quiet place, or if not possible, keep away from the TV and other distractions. Eat lighter meals as you approach your fasting time to prepare your body. Notify those around you that you will be taking some time to pray and fast so they can give you the space you need.
Have a journal ready to write the things God will reveal to you. Spend time in the Word of God so that you prepare your heart for the fasting period. Decide on the number of days to fast as the Holy Spirit leads you.
To prepare to fast and pray, you should:
spend time in prayer and fasting before you begin your fast
make a list of who you will be praying for and the biblical reasons to fast and pray
set aside uninterrupted time each day during your fasting period to meet with God solitude is very important as distractions will draw your attention away from the main task of fasting and praying
pray for forgiveness, cleansing, and righteousness the biblical reasons to fast included repentance .
stop eating after dinner on day one, break your fast at lunch or breakfast on day two, return to normal meals during the afternoon of day three.
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What Did Jesus Really Say About Fasting
Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting.
Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:16-18 NASB
to learn more about Christ
What is fasting?
Dictionary.Com-TM describes the word fast as ..
1. to abstain from all food.
2. to eat only sparingly or of certain kinds of food, esp. as a religious observance.
Fasting, going without food in order to spend time in prayer is both noble and difficult. It gives us time to pray, teaches self-discipline, reminds us that we can live with a lot less, and helps us appreciate Gods gifts.
The Right Reasons
Jesus was not condemning the act of fasting, but hypocrisy doing things in order to gain public approval.
Fasting was mandatory for the Jewish people once a year, on the Day of Atonement .
The Pharisees voluntarily fasted twice a week to impress the people with their holiness. But, they were not doing it for the right reasons only to be seen as religious leaders.
These people, Jesus says have received their reward in full. Christ knew their reasons and taught about it.
Fasting in Secret
Worship vs. Pride
Lord, help us to be more humble. d:-)
Fasting And Medical Safety
According to The Foods and Nutrition Encyclopedia, For healthy individuals, no harm results from short-term fasting. The average healthy person can go without food between 21 and 40 or more days before the body begins to eliminate vital tissue . Consult your physician before beginning any fast lasting longer than three days.
If you have underlying health conditions such as pregnancy, anemia, behavioral disorders or other chronic health problems, you should never fast without consulting a physician first.
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