A Short Guide to Fasting
“…when you fast…” Matthew 6:16
Fasting in repentance. Fasting promotes repentance by a
humbling of the soul. We emphasize the seriousness of the issues
through denying the ordinary course of life.
Fasting for power to obey. Jesus was led to fast in the
wilderness and came out empowered by the Spirit. He overcame
temptation, and relied on God’s Word instead of food. Fasting can
help us to reorder priorities.
Fasting in preparation. This is a close cousin to obedience. Paul
and Barnabas and their associates fasted and prayed for direction
in ministry and to prepare them to follow the call. (Acts 13:1-4)
Fasting for intercession. Nehemiah fasted for his people asking
for God’s mercy, as did Ezra, asking for protection and provision.
Paul said that he fasted often in connection with his ministry.
(2 Corinthians 11:27)
Planning to fast.
- Choose the kind of fast that best meets your needs and goals.
- Remember to take into account any health issues and consult
your physician if you are unsure.
- Be mindful of the potential impact of fasting on your
- Ask the Lord for guidance.
Three types of fasts
A normal fast: is abstaining from food for a period of time.
This is the typical fasting practiced by God’s people. Jesus fasted
from food in the wilderness and became hungry, but not thirsty.
Luke reports that He ate nothing, but not that He drank nothing.
An absolute fast: is abstaining from both food and water for a
A few people practiced this in scripture for up to three days in
extreme times. Ezra (Ezra 10:6), Mordecai (Esther 4:16), and Saul
(Acts 9:9) are examples of this. Moses and Elijah apparently had
supernatural intervention for extended times without food and
A partial fast: is abstaining from some foods or meals for a
Daniel and his friends chose not to eat the king’s delicacies, but
subsisted on a diet of vegetables and water. Elijah only ate what
the raven brought in the mornings when he was at Cherith.
A particular fast: The principle of fasting is to deny yourself
fleshly cravings for a season in order to realign your inner-being
with God’s purpose and will. Some kinds of fasting that may be
useful although not explicitly mentioned in the Bible may include:
fasting the use of social media, fasting from watching television,
fasting from watching political programs, fasting from playing
video games, and etc.
Fasting doesn’t only entail the avoidance of certain creature
comforts but also the increase of replacing those things with
reading God’s Word, prayer, and setting spiritual goals. Consider
amplifying your church engagement during the fast, be at service
every Sunday and Wednesday. Attend the Bible Study on Sunday
Morning at 9am in room 310. Participate in your Life Group more
consistently. Organize your life with plenty of room for God to
“Do’s” of a fast.
- Emphasize prayer during a fast.
- Keep yourself well-groomed.
- Ease into and out of a fast. Abrupt transitions are more
difficult mentally and physically.
- Drink plenty of water.
“Don’ts” of a fast.
- Don’t make your fasting a burden for others. Keep your
- Don’t fast during times of celebration
- Don’t use fasting to punish yourself, or to try to make up for misdeeds.
- Don’t use fasting as an excuse to be grumpy or mean.
Resources of interest about fasting:
God’s Chosen Fast: A Spiritual and Practical Guide to Fasting by
Arthur Wallis. A concise and thorough guide to Christian fasting.
Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. The classic book on a
variety of spiritual disciplines including fasting.