Dont Think Of White Elephants
Without a purpose and plan, its not Christian fasting its just going hungry.
When your empty stomach starts to growl and begins sending your brain every feed me signal it can, dont be content to let your mind dwell on the fact that you havent eaten. If you make it through with an iron will that says no to your stomach, but doesnt turn your minds eye elsewhere, it says more about your love for food than your love for God.
Christian fasting turns its attention to Jesus or some great cause of his in the world. Christian fasting seeks to take the pains of hunger and transpose them into the key of some eternal anthem, whether its fighting against some sin, or pleading for someones salvation, or for the cause of the unborn, or longing for a greater taste of Jesus.
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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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.
Is Fasting Required For Christians
No. God required the Israelites to fast on Atonement Day, but he eliminated that observance after Jesus permanently atoned for the sins of repentant people. Christians are not under the Mosaic Law, of which Atonement Day was a part. Therefore, each Christian may decide for himself whether to fast.Romans 14:1-4.
Christians recognize that fasting is not the focus of their worship. The Bible never associates fasting with happiness. In contrast, true Christian worship is marked by joy, reflecting the personality of Jehovah, the happy God.1 Timothy 1:11 Ecclesiastes 3:12, 13 Galatians 5:22.
What Scripture Talks About Fasting And Prayer
The scripture teaches us to walk with the Lord so that the Devil may not take place among the believers. Our enemy is always seeking to destroy the children of God by falling into various temptations.
Jesus says that fasting is essential for every believer to win the spiritual battle war. Actually, when we do fasting and prayer, we do it to glorify the Lord. We are here on this earth to honor him by any means. .
Joel 2:12Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning
Explanation:- When the children of Israel were away from the presence of the Lord and confronted many hardships in their lives and they understood that they needed to turn back again to the Lord.
The Lord asked them to repent for their evil doings and they must submit themselves with a lonely heart by fasting and weeping. If they do so only then their sins will be forgiven in the sight of the Lord.
Psalm 69:10When I wept, and chastened my soul with fasting, that was to my reproach
Explanation:- David says that when we are away from the lord and our spirituality gets dry we become like the children of this world. All our ways lead us far from the Lord. We cannot come back to the lord again like before until we repent for our sins and submit ourselves to the Lord with fasting and prayers.
Jesus left an example of practicing fasting for us so that we can follow him and get rid of the power of Satan.
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How Should We Fast
The first imperative in deciding to fast is that we do so out of a sincere desire to seek Gods guidance and direction. Fasting for the sake of making a show in front of others, or fasting to ask God for things that are clearly outside of his will, is an exercise in futility. More on that in a minute.
First, lets look at the physical aspects of fasting. Fasting comes in different forms and is done in different ways. The most important factors to consider in starting a fasting regimen include the following:
Bible Verses About Fastings
*All Bible verses below are taken from the NKJV Bible. If you hover over the verse reference you will be able to read the AMP version.
Fasting is not just a physical discipline it can be a spiritual feast.
Matthew 6:16-18 NKJV 16 Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who in the secret and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
Joel 2:12 NKJV 12 Now, therefore, says the LORD, Turn to Me with all your heart, With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.
Luke 4:1-2 NKJV 1 Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.
Daniel 10:3 NKJV 3 I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.
Acts 14:23 NKJV 23 So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
Matthew 17:21 NKJV 21 However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.
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How To Begin Fasting
Fasting is hard. It sounds much easier in concept than it proves to be in practice. First, you must start small. Dont go from no fasting to attempting a weeklong. Start with one meal maybe fast one meal a week for several weeks.
Next, plan what youll do instead of eating. Fasting isnt merely an act of self-deprivation, but a spiritual discipline for seeking more of Gods richness. This means we should have a plan for what positive activities to do during the time it normally takes to eat. You will want to also consider how fasting will affect others in your life. Fasting is no license to be unloving. While you might at times feel grumpy or flustered, you can’t take it out on those around you. Lastly, figure out which type of fasting you will do, and if it will be from food or another vice of yours.
Fasting can turn you more towards God, and help you realign your focus on Him. While our bodies are being deprived for the purpose of drawing near to God, He has promised in return to draw near to us.
Megan Bailey is the Social Media Specialist and Content Producer for Beliefnet. She attended James Madison University where she received a degree in psychology.
What Does The Bible Say About Fasting In Secret
Jesus has warned his disciples to be very careful while they fast. People in this world live a different way from the teachings of Jesus. When they fast, they try to proclaim to others so that people can praise them.
But Jesus says that his followers must not show their fasting to others. If they show their fasting to others, then they will not get any reward from him. Those who will keep it hidden will be rewarded by the Father who watches from the above. .
The Time You Have To Focus
Fasting requires intense focus on the reasons for your fast and on listening to God during this period of time. Youll want to clear your calendar of extraneous activities so you can calm your heart and mind as you seek Gods face. Ideally, setting aside specific time in your calendar to focus on prayer and study during your period of fasting will help. Spending an overnight in a location where you can get away from city lights and noise or the distractions of family obligations can increase the effectiveness of the fast.
Paul Fasted After His Conversion Acts : 1
Saul was a man who persecuted Christians. He had gotten permission from the Jewish leadership to go to Damascus and arrest any who claimed allegiance to Christ. Along the way to Damascus Saul had a personal encounter with the Lord. We call this his conversion on the road to Damascus.
Part of this encounter involved a bright light which left Paul blinded. Paul was in Damascus for 3 days without sight. He also did not eat or drink . This could have been because of repentance or shock for everything that had recently transpired. Either way, Paul sacrificed food and drink for 3 days in exchanged for a relationship with the Lord.
Do Christians Need To Fast
Fasting might sound sensational today. But in Jesus culture, it was weird for a religious person not to fast.
The disciples of John the Baptist, an important prophet who prepared the way for Jesus ministry, often fasted. So did the Pharisees, a group of religious leaders who opposed Jesus teachings and conspired to kill Him!
During Jesus earthly ministry, His followers didnt fast. But Jesus assumed they would fast after he returned to the Father . In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives His followers instructions on how to fast, specifically telling them not to make a show of fasting like others in their culture .
Jesus may not have commanded his followers to fast, but He expected them to.
Why Did People Fast In The Bible
Fasting was an important aspect of life for the Hebrews. People in the Bible fasted not for dietary reasons as made popular in todays culture. Rather, they fasted as a reaction to certain situations.
God required His people to maintain fasts on the Day of Atonement to maintain purity and humility . In a similar fashion, when faced with their sinful actions, people would react by fasting to show their repentance, like when the king of Nineveh ordered a communal fast after Jonahs message . Fasting was also a response to grief and loss. When King Saul died, the nation of Israel abstained from food for 7 days .
Fasting wasnt just a communal act individuals like Moses, David, Hannah, and Daniel fasted usually to seek Gods deliverance .
In the New Testament, we find the early Church and its Apostles practiced fasting . Even Jesus fasted. Prior to His temptation in the desert, Jesus fasted for 40 days and nights preparing and strengthening Himself for His ministry ahead.
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.
What Is Fasting In The Bible
We can conclude that by command of God and by scriptural example, biblical fasting is a tool that a Christian may use to seek a closer relationship with his or her Creator and petition God for help, guidance and a humble heart that is yielded to His will.
While fasting is an excellent tool for spiritual growth, those with diabetes or similar serious health conditions would be wise to seek professional advice before attempting to fast.
Fasting is related to prayer, Bible study and meditation, so you might find it helpful to read our related articles on these subjects. Study more about the spiritual benefits of fasting in our article The Fast That I Have Chosen.
About the Author
Tom Clark married his lovely wife, Mary, in 1985. They have three grown children and four grandchildren. Tom was ordained a minister in 1989 and has served congregations in Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Kansas, Minnesota and North Dakota. He currently pastors the Bentonville, Van Buren and Mena, Arkansas, congregations of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association.
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The Purpose Of Spiritual Fasting
While many people fast to lose weight, dieting is not the purpose of a spiritual fast. Instead, fasting provides unique spiritual benefits in the life of the believer.
Fasting requires self-control and discipline, as one denies the natural desires of the flesh. During spiritual fasting, the believer’s focus is removed from the physical things of this world and intensely concentrated on God.
Put differently, fasting directs our hunger toward God. It clears the mind and body of earthly attention and draws us closer to God. So, as we gain spiritual clarity of thought while fasting, it allows us to hear God’s voice more clearly. Fasting also demonstrates a profound need of God’s help and guidance through complete dependence on him.
Ezra Fasted While Mourning Over Sin Ezra : 6
The Jews began to return to Israel after the Babylonian captivity. Yet they had disobeyed Gods laws during their captivity. Ezra gathered the people together to confront them for their sins.
Ezra 10:6 does not say specifically how long his fast was . The Bible does tell us that he did not eat any bread and only drank water during this fast. He fasted because he was mourning the sins of those who had been carried away from Israel but had finally returned.
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Under What Circumstances Did Some In The Bible Fast
When seeking help and guidance from God. The people journeying to Jerusalem fasted to show their sincerity in asking for Gods help. Paul and Barnabas at times chose to fast when appointing congregation elders.Acts 14:23.
When focusing on Gods purpose. After his baptism, Jesus fasted for 40 days to prepare himself to do Gods will during his coming ministry.Luke 4:1, 2.
When demonstrating repentance over past sins. Through the prophet Joel, God told unfaithful Israelites: Return to me with all your hearts, with fasting and weeping and wailing.Joel 2:12-15.
When observing the Day of Atonement. The Law that God gave to the nation of Israel included a command to fast on the annual Day of Atonement. * Fasting was appropriate on this occasion because it reminded the Israelites that they were imperfect and needed Gods forgiveness.
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.
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What The Bible Says About Spiritual Fasting
- General Biblical Studies, Interdenominational Christian Training Center
In the Old Testament, God commanded Israel to observe several designated times of fasting. For New Testament believers, fasting was neither commanded nor forbidden in the Bible. While early Christians were not required to fast, many practiced prayer and fasting regularly.
Jesus himself affirmed in Luke 5:35 that after his death, fasting would be appropriate for his followers: “The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days” .
Fasting clearly has a place and a purpose for God’s people today.