What is fasting?


Simply put, fasting is the abstinence from food for a spiritual breakthrough, ultimately to get to know God better. Fasting helps us to renounce the natural in order to better access the supernatural. Refraining from food will not make you more spiritual. Spirituality is a response of the heart, to God, when you seek His presence and yield to Him. The Holy Spirit will make you more spiritual when you are filled with His presence. Remember, as you fast, the most important thing is that you seek God, touch God, and let him touch you.  Fasting will take prayer, coupled with faith, to a higher level. It will take you nearer to God.  Fasting is not an end itself or a way to try to manipulate God; it is a means by which we can worship the Lord and submit ourselves in humility to Him.  

One of the greatest spiritual benefits of fasting is becoming more attentive to God – being more aware of His adequacy, aware of, but less focused on our own inadequacy – and listening to what He wants us to be and do.  According to Isaiah 58:4, true fasting will “make your voice heard on high.” When we fast with proper motives, our voices are heard in heaven, that is, we come into God’s presence in a powerful way, and we proclaim what He is saying.  

Here are two of the times Jesus taught on fasting: 

Matthew 6:16-18  “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”  

Jesus is teaching about fasting directly in context with his teaching on giving and prayer. We have no more reason to exclude fasting from our practice than we do giving and prayer as part of Christian devotion.  Jesus states, “When you fast,” and therefore seems to indicate that His people will fast, and He gives instruction on how to do it properly.

Matthew 9:14-15 – “Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” 15 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.”  

This is an important statement in the New Testament on whether or not Christians should fast today. It is clear that Christ both upheld the discipline of fasting, and though he did not “command” it in the strictest sense, He also expected, by inference, that His followers would fast.

There are several types of fasts in the Bible.  Here are the main types.                                                                                

Normalabstaining from food.   Example: Jesus “ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them was hungry” (Luke 4:2).                   

Absoluteabstaining from food and water; normally no more than 3 days.   Examples: For three days Paul was blind and did not eat or drink anything” (Acts 9:9), Moses (Deut. 9:9), Israel (Ezra 10:6), Israel (Esther 4:16).

Partialrestricting diet of certain foods or a meal a day.   Examples: Daniel “so the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead” (Daniel 1:16), (Daniel 10:3).

Regularfast days that commemorate an event or weekly fasts on a regular day.   Examples: Day of Atonement (Lev. 23:27; Ps. 35:13; Is. 58:5), a fast day (Jer. 36:6); four separate festivals (Zech 8:19); twice a week (Luke 18:11-12) 

Publicfasts called by leaders, usually in times of special need.  Examples: King Jehoshaphat when Judah was invaded (2 Chron. 20:1-4), Ezra returning the exiles (Ezra 8:21-23), King of Ninevah, as a result of Jonah’s preaching (Jonah 3:5,10).

Seek the Lord for how He would have you participate in this (21 day fast).  He will show you. If He leads you to fast, then you are free to choose from the first 3 types of biblical fasting. Again, ask Him and He will show you. Maybe you have never fasted before or have had difficulty fasting in the past.  Let me propose something that may help you.  Drink liquids until dinnertime and then eat dinner.  If God’s in it, you’ll win it! You can do it with God’s help! God bless you as you seek Him for His will and trust Him for His grace.