Fasting is a spiritual discipline that has been practiced by Christians for centuries. Throughout the Bible, we see examples of people fasting as a way to seek God’s guidance, repent of sin, and grow in their relationship with Him. While fasting is not a requirement for salvation, it is a powerful tool that can help Christians draw closer to God and experience His grace and mercy in new and deeper ways.
In this blog post, we will explore what the Bible says about fasting. We will look at examples of fasting in the Old and New Testaments, and examine the teachings of Jesus and the early church on fasting. We will also provide practical tips for how to fast, answer common questions about fasting, and offer encouragement for those who are considering this spiritual discipline.
Whether you are new to fasting or have been practicing it for years, we hope that this blog post will inspire you to seek God through this powerful spiritual practice. As you fast and pray, may you experience His presence, His peace, and His power in your life.
Viral Believer is reader-supported. We may earn a small fee from products we recommend at no charge to you. Learn More
Old Testament Fasting
In the Old Testament, fasting was often seen as a sign of mourning, repentance, or devotion to God. Here are some examples of fasting in the Old Testament:
- Mourning: In 2 Samuel 1:12, David and his men fasted and wept for Saul and Jonathan who had died in battle. Fasting was a sign of their grief.
- Repentance: In Joel 2:12-13, God called the people of Israel to repent and return to Him with fasting and weeping. The prophet Daniel also fasted and prayed for God’s forgiveness and mercy (Daniel 9:3).
- Devotion: In 1 Kings 19:8, Elijah fasted for 40 days and nights as he traveled to Mount Horeb to meet with God. Queen Esther and the Jews in Susa also fasted and prayed for God’s protection and deliverance from their enemies (Esther 4:3).
New Testament Fasting
In the New Testament, Jesus taught about fasting and modeled it for his followers. Here are some examples of fasting in the New Testament:
- Jesus’ Teaching: In Matthew 6:16-18, Jesus taught about fasting and encouraged his followers to fast in secret as an act of humility. He warned against fasting to impress others and instructed his disciples to wash their faces and anoint their heads so that they would not appear to be fasting.
- Humility: In Luke 18:9-14, Jesus told a parable about a Pharisee and a tax collector. The Pharisee boasted about his righteousness, while the tax collector humbled himself before God by fasting and asking for mercy. Jesus commended the tax collector’s humility and declared that “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:14, NKJV).
- Spiritual Discipline: In Acts 13:2-3, the leaders of the church in Antioch fasted and prayed before sending Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey. Throughout the book of Acts, we see examples of fasting as a spiritual discipline practiced by the early church.
How to Fast
If you feel led to fast, here are some practical tips to help you get started:
- Choose the right type of fast: There are different types of fasts, such as a complete fast (no food or drink), a liquid fast (only water and juice), or a partial fast (fasting from certain types of food or meals). Choose the type of fast that is appropriate for your situation and level of experience.
- Prepare for a fast: It is important to prepare your body and mind for a fast. Gradually reduce your intake of food a few days before the fast, and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Plan to rest as much as possible during the fast, especially during the first few days.
- Set a goal: Decide on a specific goal for your fast, such as seeking God’s guidance, repenting of sin, or praying for a specific need. Write down your goal and pray over it before and during your fast.
- Seek accountability: Find a friend or family member who can support you and hold you accountable during your fast. Share your goal with them and ask them to check in with you regularly. You may also want to consider joining a prayer group or fasting community for additional support.
- Stay focused on God: Use the time you would normally spend eating or drinking to pray, read the Bible, or meditate on God’s word. Fasting is not just about giving up food or drink; it’s about drawing closer to God and seeking His will.
Common Questions About Fasting
Here are some common questions and answers about fasting:
How long should a fast last?
The length of a fast is up to you and should be guided by the Holy Spirit. Some people fast for a few hours, while others fast for several days or even weeks. It is important to listen to your body and not push yourself beyond what is safe or healthy.
Is it necessary to fast?
Fasting is not a requirement for salvation, but it can be a helpful practice for spiritual growth. Jesus assumed that his followers would fast, and he taught them how to fast in a way that honored God.
Can you fast for non-spiritual reasons?
Yes, you can fast for non-spiritual reasons such as for health or weight loss. However, it is important to keep the focus on God during a spiritual fast. If you are fasting for health reasons, make sure to consult with a doctor beforehand.
Can you break your fast if you feel sick?
If you feel sick or experience any medical issues during your fast, it is important to seek medical attention if necessary. Breaking your fast in such situations is not a sign of failure or weakness.
Fasting is a spiritual discipline that can help Christians grow in their relationship with God. In the Bible, we see examples of fasting as a sign of mourning, repentance, devotion, and humility. If you feel led to fast, it is important to choose the right type of fast, prepare your body and mind, set a goal, and seek accountability. Remember that fasting is not a requirement for salvation, but it can be a helpful practice for spiritual growth. As Jesus taught, fast in secret and with a humble heart, seeking the Lord’s will above all else.
“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. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” (Matthew 6:16-18, NKJV)
May we all seek to fast with a humble and sincere heart, seeking God’s will and guidance in our lives. As we fast and pray, may we draw closer to Him and experience His grace, mercy, and love in new and deeper ways.
Share With Your Friends
Get more insights from your Bible study with Logos Bible Software
Get Special Deals On Christian Books With ChurchSource
Search For Christian Books On This Topic On Amazon
Viral Believer has been translated from English into 15 of the world's major languages. Learn More