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What does the Bible say about how to fast?

It is not explicitly commanded in the New Testament that we must fast, but it is inferred that we will. Jesus gave some instructions for fasting when He taught that we should do it secretly and not for the praise or admiration of others (Matthew 6:16–18; Mark 2:20). Fasting is a way we can humble ourselves before God, receive His guidance, and store up treasures in heaven. There are many reasons why we should fast and different types of fasts we can do, which are exemplified in the Bible.

There are different kinds of fasts: no food (Luke 4:2), no food or drink (Acts 9:9), cutting out certain foods (Daniel 1:8–14), or cutting out specific things for a certain amount of time, such as a married couple deciding to abstain from sex for a set period of time (Exodus 19:15; 1 Corinthians 7:5).

The ultimate goal of fasting is to increase our focus on God. Beyond increased focus on the Lord, fasting is to be done for a purpose; there should be a specific goal in mind. Prior to her approaching the king, Esther, her maidens, and the Jews fasted in hopes that the Lord would grant her favor with the king (Esther 4:16). Daniel fasted multiple times: for holiness (Daniel 1:8) that led to spiritual preparation (Daniel 1:17–20) and to mourn (Daniel 10:2–3). Early church believers fasted when committing new church elders to the Lord (Acts 14:23). Safety, favor, wisdom, deliverance from affliction, increased humility, preparation, and dedication to the Lord are all good reasons to fast.

When we are distant from God, fasting can bring us back to Him: "'Yet even now,' declares the LORD, 'return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning'" (Joel 2:12). Fasting humbles us before God (Psalm 69:10). Ezra 8:23 says: "So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty."

Ask God for wisdom before beginning a fast (James 1:5). If you have a physical condition which prevents you from fasting (diabetes, etc.), do not feel guilty or ashamed. Rather, seek the Lord to see if perhaps He would have you fast something else instead of food.

Finally, always remember that fasting should be about becoming aligned with God and His will. Fasting should not be done with selfish motives or in an attempt to manipulate God into giving you your own way. What fasting really does is transform you from the inside out. It enables you to be prepared for God's plans and your role in them. Fasting is not about changing God; it is about changing yourself to be more like Him.


Related Truth:

What does the Bible say about Christian fasting?

What types of fasting does the Bible talk about?

What is a Daniel fast?

What types of prayer are mentioned in the Bible?

Are the spiritual disciplines in the Bible? What benefit are the spiritual disciplines?


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