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Ten Reasons to Consider Fasting

 

Fasting is not a topic we discuss much in some church circles – especially not the ones where I have grown up. We’d rather have a big fellowship supper! But fasting is something I believe we may each want to very prayerfully consider. It is a spiritual discipline that benefits believers and the church, particularly in times of distress and great need. It is a way to show that our hunger for the Lord is our greatest hunger of all.

There are specific times when fasting may be especially important:

  1. When we are repenting from significant sin and grieving over our sin before the Lord. (Joel 2:12)
  2. When we are facing serious temptation to sin and we want to appeal to the Lord for victory and His power. (Matt. 4:1-11)
  3. When we are praying for repentance for our families, our churches, or our country and grieving over these sins, feeling the pain the Lord feels over them. (Daniel 9) Surely this is one of the greatest needs our church and nation has today.
  4. When church leaders are prayerfully deciding on appointing new men to lead in the church, particularly pastors or missionaries. (Acts 14:23)
  5. When we have a very serious prayer request and we want to seek the Lord in a deeper way. (Ezra 8:21-23)
  6. In times of great grief, perhaps during times of national mourning. (2 Sam. 1:12)
  7. When we are praying for significant healing – spiritually, emotionally, relationally, or physically – for ourselves or others. (Psalm 35:13)
  8. When there is a great crisis for the church or the nation and we need God’s intervention – there is threat of war, famine, plague, great persecution, etc… (Jonah 3:5-10Nehemiah 9:1Esther 4:3)
  9. When we are praying for a massive movement of God’s Spirit to bring many into the Kingdom – a new Great Awakening. (Check out this article on revivals and fasting by John Piper)
  10. As a regular voluntary habit or occasional practice to draw nearer to the Lord and to grow in spiritual maturity ourselves. (Luke 2:37)

Verses about fasting:

  • ‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’ Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers. 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. Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the Lord? “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? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Isaiah 58:3-7
  • I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks. Daniel 10:3
  • “Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; Joel 2:12
  • “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:16-18

 

There are a number of kinds of fasting:  *

  • Standard Fast – Avoid all food for a certain period of time and only drink water.
  • Absolute Fast – Avoid all food and liquids for a certain period of time.
    • Esther and the Jews fasted for 3 days when the Jews were threatened with genocide. (Esther 4:3)
  • Partial Fast – Avoid certain foods but other foods are okay to eat.
  • Intermittent Fast – A fast that is for certain parts of the day.
  • Electronics Fast – Avoid distractions like screens, phones, the internet, and social media, to really concentrate on the Lord and on prayer for a certain period of time.
  • Sexual Fast – husbands and wives may choose to do this only by mutual consent, and only for a limited time, so that they may pray. (1 Cor. 7:5)

Who Initiates Fasting?

  • A Christian may decide to fast in secret for himself/herself.
  • Believers may come together to decide to fast together for a specific reason and time.
  • Church leaders may call the local church or the church in a nation or worldwide to fast and pray.
  • Both spouses must agree to a sexual fast and it must have a specific and limited time period.
  • Political leaders may call a city, state, or nation to fast and pray. (2 Chron. 20:3)

 

NOTE* – If you are pregnant, nursing, diabetic, hypoglycemic, or have significant medical conditions, please check with your doctor or medical professional before prayerfully deciding what type of fast you might want to do.

SHARE:

If you’d like to share resources on fasting or about how fasting has been a blessing in your life, you are welcome to share!

RESOURCES:

www.gotquestions.org has a number of posts about what fasting is and the importance of it.

Types of Fasting – by www.gotquestions.org

John Piper’s articles on fasting

Fasting for Beginners – by David Mathis at www.desiringgod.org

 

20 thoughts on “Ten Reasons to Consider Fasting

  1. This is a very good idea dear sister! I used to fast together with my husband. Our prayers haven’t been answered yet but I have faith! I must confess, reading this post made me feel so hungry!! How the enemy tries to play tricks with the mind! I believe I will start as Desiring God suggests, one or two meals at a time. Thank you for your encouragement and a huge hug!

    1. Hope,
      That sounds like a good plan – to start small. I am excited you are interested in fasting. It is something we tend to neglect, but I believe is well-worth it in our pursuit of the Lord.

      Much love!

  2. Hi there!

    My husband is a good Christian man for the most part. We are very young. And this world is so very tempting. I love the Lord with all my heart, the closer I get to him the more I feel convictions of certain things and the more I feel I do not fit into this world. But everyone I love and am close to are involved in these things that I just feel I do not want to be apart of. I guess you could say they are not that big of a deal but like I said it’s just in my heart. If my husband decided he didn’t want to be a part of it at all anymore either, I would run the other way!

    But I feel the only way I hold on at all to things of this world is to be close to him. Yes being close to the Lord is my number one goal!! But if I never listened to secular music, watched TV or movies with vulgar and worldly connotations, hung out with unbelievers on occasion, laughed at jokes that are dirty, had a drink now and then etc. I fear my husband would start to believe I am uptight and no fun! It’s not that I believe anyone who does those things are going to hell! It’s just truly I would rather be around believers, in church, talking about the Lord or studying the word!

    I have been considering fasting for my husband for these things! Fasting and praying and believing he would not compromise in these things in his faith. I do not want him to be lukewarm and then by default me be lukewarm! I want to be on fire. For when we have children I can’t wait to raise them in the Lord and not this world!

    Would this be an appropriate thing to fast for?
    That my husband would change his views and be more strictly hateful towards the things of this world namely the above things I listed?

    On the other side of this I struggle with forgiving, loving, accepting, serving, respecting, unconditionally when my husband is involved in worldly things so I would love to fast for strength on my end for those things as well! I have even considered trying to “win my husband without a word” even tho he is a believer… bc when I try to talk about hating sin or maybe sin we have in our lives he says somethings like I think I’m perfect and he’s not and all this.

    I have recognized some wording he uses that does lead me to believe he feels disrespected in regards to this topic – which is so hard bc I have the best of intentions!!!! I want us to both love the Lord and chase him with all or hearts. My husband has so much influence and so much potential for the kingdom!

    Thank you for this post – I am going to prayerfully consider what to fast for and how to fast !

    1. Zoe,

      This is such an important issue! I’m really glad you are reaching out.

      The awesome news is that you don’t have to hold onto the world. Even if your husband is interested in a lot of these things, you don’t have to participate – AND you can also still show him respect and honor. There are ways to approach this stuff without talking about it if talking about it only repels your husband.

      – You don’t have to drink alcohol if you don’t want to. You can still enjoy your husband’s company.
      – You don’t have to laugh at a dirty joke. You can change to topic respectfully.
      – Laugh at jokes that are honoring to the Lord.
      – Look for anything you may be doing that may feel disrespectful to your husband and focus on becoming the godly wife the Lord calls you to be. (I have many posts on this topic, if you are interested.)
      – If the movies or TV shows he wants to watch go against your convictions, you can suggest other things or you can respectfully and quietly just avoid watching them. Check out this post.
      – Hanging out with unbelievers sometimes is not a sin, as long as you are not participating in sin. You may be able to shine for Christ around them.

      These would be great things to fast and pray about. But first, I vote to fast and pray about yourself.
      – Lord, please show me how I can let go of the world.
      – Show me how I can most honor my husband even if we don’t agree on some of these issues.
      – Help me see my own motives. Purify my heart.
      – Help me win him without a word and just set a godly example rather than trying to preach at him or lecture him.
      – Help me remember that I am not the Holy Spirit. You don’t need me to try to convict my husband to do things or to pressure him.
      – Let me be a blessing to my husband and walk in holiness.

      When you have dealt with anything the Lord wants you to deal with in your own life (Matt. 7:1-5), then you will have the wisdom and power of God’s Spirit to know how best to pray for your husband and fast for him.

      I have some posts about things related to this issue:

      Is My Husband Bound by My Personal Convictions?

      My Husband Is Not Being a Good Spiritual Leader

      I Am Responsible for Myself Spiritually

      25 Ways to Be a Safe Place for Your Husband

      What Is Disrespectful to Husbands?

      What Is Respect in Marriage?

      Ways Husbands Lead That Wives Often Don’t Notice

      Twenty Simple Ways to Enjoy Your Man

      I Wish My Husband Would Pray with Me More

      Much love!

      1. Another great resource for this subject is Sacred Influence by Gary Thomas.

        You can influence your husband in godly ways without disrespecting him. But ultimately his decisions are between himself and the Lord and your decisions are between you and the Lord.

    2. Dear Zoe,

      I wonder if the story of Daniel would be applicable to your situation. He was a great example of someone in the Bible who was “in the world, but not of the world.” After his kidnapping, he assimilated to his kidnappers’ culture in all ways EXCEPT those that didn’t honor God. He lived so much of his life in exile, associating with (and even befriending somewhat) those who didn’t honor God, but he himself never ceased to honor God.

      As Christians, we are called to be in the world, but not of the world. We are to be a light to others and not shut ourselves off from them (reflecting God’s love), just as we are called to not defile ourselves with things against His Word (reflecting God’s righteousness). Jesus and the Apostles ALL associated with those who were unbelievers or worldly. It was just that their closest friends, their inner circle, their fellowship, was with other believers. So I think we are to associate with unbelievers, just not to become like them.

      As for the other things you mentioned, you can totally do them without being considered “uptight” or “no fun” – it just depends on how you present them. For example, if you were vegan, people probably wouldn’t care unless you tried to lecture them. If you make changes in this way, people will get used to it and accept that “it’s just something she does.” When I went vegetarian, my meat-loving high school friend made sure she had vegan burgers at her birthday party so that I would have something to eat. She even asked me what brand of vegan burgers I preferred. When I decided not to drink alcohol and was staring at the drinks at a party, wondering which ones were plain orange juice and which were orange juice mixed with champagne, a friend offered to try my drink first to make sure I hadn’t picked up the wrong one. People will generally be accepting of these changes as long as they don’t feel you’re judging them.

      You can delete all the secular songs from your phone / laptop / iPod and only listen to Christian stations when you drive, but your husband will probably be offended if you ask him to do the same thing.

      If your husband wants to watch TV or movies with vulgar or worldly connotations, you can say, “Hey baby, would you mind if we watched X instead? I’d prefer something with less sex (or whatever) in it.”

      You can refuse to laugh at dirty jokes. If you choose to smile disinterestedly instead of glaring at the joke-teller, that will get the message across that it’s not your style of humor, but that you aren’t furious at the joke-teller.

      If your husband or friends go out for drinks, you can say, “I think I’ll just have a soda / water / juice / virgin cocktail.” They may even appreciate having someone they can always count on to be the designated driver.

      These things are convictions, and they are great convictions and ways to honor God, but it may be helpful to remember that they are not commands. I know I personally have to remind myself a lot, “Okay, I may choose to honor God by doing X, but this is not a command and it’s okay if my boyfriend / friend / parent / whoever does not choose to honor God in the same way.” April has a post somewhere on convictions (April, would you mind linking to it? Thanks!). I used to (and still do) sometimes feel frustrated because I read my Bible a lot more than my boyfriend. I worried that he wasn’t as close to God as I was. Boy was I surprised when I found out that he prayed way more than I did! He just prayed silently and when I wasn’t there, so I never knew. Focusing on the spiritual things that HE can teach ME helps me keep my pride in check and keep the focus off what I can teach him. For example, if I start to feel frustrated with something in my bf’s spiritual journey, I remind myself that he prays more than me, that he is more dutiful to his family than I am to mine, and that he is a lot more selfless than me. The specific things in your situation will probably be different than mine, but it may be helpful to remind yourself of those things.

      Perhaps you could fast and pray that God makes you the woman He wants you to be and that He makes your husband the man He wants him to be?

      Much love!
      Flower

      1. Flower,

        Thank you tremendously for your response!!! It truly helped me and was so great to read I really connected and understood what you were saying ❤️ I do need to try to remember my husband NEVER has issues forgiving or loving or showing me grace, and I DO so that is no better than how I feel about him drinking a few beers or watching certain tv shows… it’s actually much worse to harbor those things in your heart 😔 Instead I’ve chosen to focus more on God’s light shining through me and loving and not being judgemena. Romans 14 ROCKED MY WORLD wow. I had the whole thing highlighted yet somehow never understood it the way I did when I read it during fasting. It’s changed how I see others. And my husband! Thank God🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼 I’m so thankful for this great community❤️

        1. Zoe,

          WOOHOO! THIS IS AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!
          Praising God with you, my dear sister!

          This report puts the biggest smile on my face and has joy just flooding over my heart.

          If you want to talk more about things, we are here. But more importantly, you have the Lord and His Word and you are listening. That is amazing!

  3. Hi April!

    Thank you for your responses 🙂 I am so excited to be fasting today about myself! I’ve been spending the morning with the Lord and am going to dive deeper in your blogs, the word and prayer the rest of the day until it is time to prepare dinner for my husband. I am going to try to only focus on myself. And fast breakfast and lunch until dinner tonight. I am starting small, but may have another opportunity later this week to do the same thing.
    One thing that jumped out at me: Pray for God to reveal my own motives… Yes why do I desire this so much? For my husband to be perfectly “godly” by my standards…? I’m still wrestling with this one because I can not confidently say my motives are all good. I know God will reveal much to me and speak to me today and I’m excited. If I need to fast more on these topics for myself, which i know i will, i will do so – before starting to focus on my husband and fast for him. Who knows by then maybe somethings will change.

    I am so grateful for you and the peaceful wife community.

    Thank you!

    1. Zoe,

      I am very excited for you! What a wonderful plan for today.

      If you want to talk more about motives, let me know. I can’t wait to hear all that God has in store for you. This part can be painful at first, but SO SO SO worth it!

      I love your heart to want to learn and to let God shine His truth into your own life. When I see that – I know amazing things are about to happen. It’s about to get really good!

      Much love,
      April

  4. This is so good. I recently tried fasting for a prayer request in our church. I didn’t even last all day til supper. 🙁 with 4 littles in the home, I was so distracted that I couldn’t even find time to pray, and I’m still nursing my 10mo old, so I think that made it harder too. I felt like a flop… maybe now is not the time to fast? Or I did it for eh wrong reasons? (It was announced at church that tomorrow we could pray and fast for XX situation if led) I have been considering praying and fasting to ask God to increase my faith. I know I need spiritual stamina. I tend to pray for something a few times, then forget about it and focus elsewhere. Or I get discontent with my boring life of “Mom” and easily loose track of being faithful in the small things. If I’m honest, I’m a little scared to ask for that, as it may burst my comfortable bubble. 😮

    1. ByGrace,

      I’m so glad this was a blessing.

      You know what? Fasting is something you probably have to grow into a bit. Starting with just a meal. Then moving up to two meals. Then maybe a day. And if you are nursing, your baby is depending on you for nourishment. So a partial fast may be a better idea. Or an intermittent fast. But, personally, if it were me (and I did nurse my two babies myself), I would want to keep the fluids going. There is no way to nurse if you are dehydrated. You could do a liquid fast – which could include milk. And you don’t have to fast a whole day. That is okay.

      I love that you want to pray and fast and ask God to increase your faith. That is awesome!

      I personally like to write out my prayers. With four little ones, it would be difficult to focus. You could just have a few bullet point prayers that you post near the sink in the kitchen and whenever you walk by, you pray for those things.

      You have a very important job! You have the most profound influence on your children spiritually and on setting a godly example for them. God is patient with us when we have little children. I love the passage about how God, as the Good Shepherd, gently leads those who have young.

      If you ever have time, read a bit about John Wesley’s mom. She used her position as a mom, in very unfavorable circumstances, to influence her children who then impacted the world greatly for Christ. You have one of the most important jobs in the world. Savor it, my sweet sister. I know God will give you strength, blessing, and wisdom so you can grow and teach and love your babies with His love.

      Much love!!! Thanks so much for sharing. 🙂

  5. The irony, I woke up determined to do another juice fast. I have Lyme disease, so i cannot do water fasting. I did a 30 day water fast last year, and that mixed with the Lyme disease was a little rough. I am glad to read this post. Glad we can do this in one heart and mind, so encouraging.

    1. sydneejstanley,

      Oh, wow! A 30 day standard fast with only water seems very extreme to me, and very dangerous. Generally, with the exceptions of Moses and Jesus who fasted 40 days each, standard or total fasts were only for a day or several days in the Bible. Daniel’s fast was for weeks, but he did eat vegetables and plants, he just avoided meat and wine and “choice foods” during that time.

      Praying for you, my dear sister. Thanks for praying and fasting with me!

      1. I did it under my Drs super vision naturally. But I improved with my Lyme disease so much, I was at the point of almost being in a wheelchair, and was bed ridden most days. But I probably would never go that long again, and would never recommend it outside of a Drs supervision.

        1. sydneejstanley – I’m so glad you were under a doctor’s supervision. I am sure that a 30 day standard fast could be fatal for some people. You did the fast to seek the Lord’s healing and you received a lot of improvement afterwards? 🙂

  6. Hi April,
    I’m fasting today for peace of mind and God’s mercy and provision in countries affected by hurricanes, floods and political turmoil. I’m already feeling a greater sense of peace and clarity. Fasting is so powerful. It really cannot be emphasized enough. Thanks so much for working so hard to remind us about this vital spiritual practice.

    1. Nikki,

      This is definitely a time for much fasting and fervent prayer – I believe, for the whole Body of Christ around the world.

      I’m so thankful God has given us access to Himself in prayer and this precious gift of fasting. I’m also glad we can fast and pray together!

      ❤️

Thanks for joining the discussion! Let's keep it classy and respectful. I'm so glad we can walk this road together.

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