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:
- When we are repenting from significant sin and grieving over our sin before the Lord. (Joel 2:12)
- 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)
- 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.
- When church leaders are prayerfully deciding on appointing new men to lead in the church, particularly pastors or missionaries. (Acts 14:23)
- When we have a very serious prayer request and we want to seek the Lord in a deeper way. (Ezra 8:21-23)
- In times of great grief, perhaps during times of national mourning. (2 Sam. 1:12)
- When we are praying for significant healing – spiritually, emotionally, relationally, or physically – for ourselves or others. (Psalm 35:13)
- 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 3:5-10, Nehemiah 9:1, Esther 4:3)
- 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)
- 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.
- Juice Fast – Only drink fruit or vegetable juice for a certain time period.
- Daniel’s Fast – Only eat vegetables/plant-based foods and drink water for a certain time period.
- 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.
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!
www.gotquestions.org has a number of posts about what fasting is and the importance of it.
Types of Fasting – by www.gotquestions.org
Fasting for Beginners – by David Mathis at www.desiringgod.org