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What Does Fasting Mean In The Bible

Jesus Fast For 40 Days And 40 Nights

What is Fasting in Christianity – Biblical Fasting

Before Jesus started His public ministry, He fasted for 40 days and was tempted by the devil himself for all 40 days of the fast . Matthew 4:1 tells us that He was lead by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness, which indicates that the purpose of Him going into the wilderness was for the temptation to come. Jesus own example of fasting can be instrumental in preparing us to overcome future temptations and tribulations.

More Questions About Spiritual Fasting

How Long Should I Fast?

Fasting, especially from food, should be limited to a determined length of time. Fasting for too long can cause harm to the body.

While I hesitate to state the obvious, your decision to fast should be guided by the Holy Spirit. Also, I highly recommend, especially if you’ve never fasted, that you seek both medical and spiritual counsel before embarking on any type of prolonged fast. While Jesus and Moses both fasted for 40 days without food and water, this was clearly an impossible human achievement, only accomplished through the Holy Spirit’s empowerment.

How Often Can I Fast?

New Testament Christians practiced prayer and fasting regularly. Since there is no biblical command to fast, believers should be led by God through prayer concerning when and how often to fast.

Return To God With Repentance

Even now, declares the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.

Joel 2:12

Return to me.

What a powerful phrase coming from our Almighty God.

This was a call to repentance, for the people to return to Gods mercy and steadfast love.

And one of the ways to show their truly repentant heart was through fasting.

Even here in the Old Testament, God was not asking for the act of fasting alone. Fasting was a way to show that they desired to return to God with all of their heart.

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Fasting Guidelines And Information

But the days will come when the Bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.

Matthew 9:15

Fasting begets prophets and strengthens strong men. Fasting makes lawgivers wise it is the souls safeguard, the bodys trusted comrade, the armor of the champion, the training of the athlete.

Basil, Bishop of Caesarea

Fasting opens the way for the outpouring of the Spirit and the restoration of Gods house. Fasting in this age of the absent Bridegroom is in expectation of His return. Soon there will be the midnight cry, Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him. It will be too late then to fast and to pray. The time is now.

Gods Chosen Fast, Arthur Wallis

There has been a resurgence of fasting in recent decades, as God calls His people to regular fasting as part of a normal Christian lifestyle. We must prepare ourselves adequately so that the fast can honor God and fulfill its purpose. The following is a general overview of biblical precedent and guidelines for wise fasting to help and encourage you.

What You Need To Know About Fasting From Food And Drink

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a progression should be observed in your fasting, especially if this discipline is new to you and you are unfamiliar with its physical effects. Dont start out with a weeklong water fast! Begin by skipping one meal each day for two to three days and setting aside the money it would have cost to give to the poor. Spend the time praying that you would have used for eating.”

“If youve never fasted before, be aware that in the early stages you may get dizzy and have headaches. This is part of the bodys cleansing process and will pass with time. Be sure that you break the fast gradually with fresh fruit and vegetables. Do not overeat after the fast. Chili and pizza may sound good after several days of not eating, but please, exercise a little restraint and say no! What Christians Need to Know about Fasting by Sam Storms

When starting your fast, consider possible dietary restrictions. Pastor Brian Croft writes, Be mindful of any health issues that could make a fast unwise. For example, if you are a diabetic or have any other physical condition that requires a strict diet, be especially mindful not to put yourself in a compromised position as a result of a fast.”

For more Practical Guidelines for Fasting, click here.

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What Does It Mean To Fast

When the Bible refers to fasting, it refers to abstaining from food and drink for a specific period of time . Fasting is designed to humble us and help us draw closer to God. It is not a form of penance or a way to attain favor with God through self-imposed suffering.

Fasting, by definition, is going without food and/or drink for a period of time. Typically, biblical fasting involves a person refraining from both food and drink . However, there are variations that may be done for health reasons .

What You Should Know About Fasting In The Bible

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Have you ever wondered what the Bible says about fasting? Or even the types of fasting in the Bible?

Perhaps youve considered fasting and were curious what the rewards and benefits of a biblical fast were.

Were going to cover all that and more in this post so that you can learn more about fasting in the Bible and how to fast for a spiritual breakthrough.

You can find everything that you are looking for about fasting in the Bible, but you may also wish to purchase the ebook for your convenience. No ads, no pop ups and youll have it forever to refer to when fasting. Best part its only $5! Your choice, read it here or have it forever.

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Biblical Purposes For Fasting

Throughout the Bible we most often find Gods people turn to fasting as the natural, inevitable response to a grievous sacred moment in life, such as death, sin and tragedy. But other times a fast is not a spontaneous reaction and we have time to prepare to respond both physically and spiritually.

Fasting is not an end unto itself, but a means of focusing our minds and bodies for a spiritual reason. Whenever you fast, do so for a reason that is mentioned or modeled in the Bible. Here are ten primary purposes for fasting mentioned in Scripture:¹

Fasting And The Day Of Atonement

What is the Purpose of Fasting?

God uses fasting as a teaching tool on one of the annual holy days He commands us to keep. In Leviticus 23:27 God says afflict your souls on the Day of Atonement. The New Ungers Bible Dictionary points out that afflicting your souls is a reference to fasting. This holy day is so associated with fasting that one of its nicknames at the time of Paul was the Fast .

So on this particular holy day God commands that His people forgo both food and water for 24 hours as a means of humbling themselves before Him, seeking Him and His will and guidance in life. Read more about this in our article The Holy Day Satan Hates Most.

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How To Do A Biblical Fast

There are two types of fasts commonly practiced by Christians today:

1. A partial fast. This is described in the book of Daniel. For three weeks, Daniel, who was a prophet during a time when Israel lived in exile, abstained only from delicacies like meat and wine .

2. A complete fast. A complete fast means drinking only water or sometimes juice when fasting for an extended period. Juice fasts will provide you with more energy than water-only fasts and still lead you into the humbling experience of denying your desire for solid, chewable food.

If you are new to fasting, start slow. Progressive steps help your body become accustomed to the drop in food intake. You can start by fasting for one meal a day, one day a week or one week a month.

Question: What Is The True Original Hebrew Meaning Of Fasting Does It Only Refer To Abstinence From Food

Bible Answers

The English word âfastsâ is normally considered âabstain from foodâ While most of the 69 occurrences of fast, fasting, and fasted in the Bible refer to mostly abstaining from food, humbly depriving ourselves of the very basic necessity of life, if we progress back to the ancient Hebrew, we find that a fast can refer to abstaining from other items of desire beside food.

The ancient Hebrew word for our modern word âfastâ is the three picture character צÖ×Ö¹× that is transliterated as Tsum or Tsom. The first character is âtzadiâ,meaning righteousness, transformation. The second character is âvavâ,meaning to fasten, hook, or join together, and the third is âmemâ,meaning massive, power, sustained life.

These Hebrew characters would indicate a definition of fasting as being â âA transforming righteousness that firmly secures us to the one with the power to give and sustain lifeâ. There is nothing in this definition that indicates that fasting is the giving up of only food and actually comes closer to describing the word prayer. This should not be surprising as the Bible often connects the words fasting and prayer. Both are ways we petition God to intervene when we are powerless.

This is presented not to prove that fasting does not means abstinence from food as the Bible clearly shows that it does but that the original definition designates that fasting can indicate abstinence in other ways besides food.

Isaiah 58

Next Section –

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Why Do We Fast What Is The Purpose Of Fasting

Fasting is an ancient practice. We believe it must have existed among believers from the very beginning. The purposes of fasting include:

  • Developing spiritual strength, including resisting temptation.

  • Developing self-mastery, making our spirits masters of our bodies.

  • Showing humility.

  • Obtaining spiritual knowledge and testimony.

  • Obtaining spiritual guidance.

  • Helping the needy.

As President Russell M. Nelson has taught: âFasting helps your spirit to develop dominance over your physical appetites. Fasting also increases your access to heavenâs help, as it intensifies your prayersâ .

In addition, the law of the fast also has the purpose of helping those in need . Today, we are asked to skip two meals and give an offering of at least the value of those meals. Our generous fast offerings go directly to helping the poor and needy, and we are blessed as well.

As President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency has taught, âIn Church we are invited to help Him as He cares for the poor in His way, and ⦠He promises everlasting blessings will come from our helping Himâ .

To learn more about fasting, see Gospel Topics, âFasting and Fast Offerings,â Bible Dictionary, âFasts

What The Bible Says About Fasting

What Does It Mean to Pray Without Ceasing

Fasting is mentioned over fifty times throughout the Bible! Throughout this post, Ill share some of the Bible verses about fasting, but, for deeper study, you can download and print this PDF on Bible verses about fasting.

You may wish to use the verses about fasting for your own study, use for Bible journaling references or to write the scripture in your prayer journal as you go through your own fast.

The first time fasting is mentioned in the Bible is in Exodus 34:

Moses was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenantthe Ten Commandments. Exodus 34:28

The last time fasting is referred to in the Bible is in 2 Corinthians 11:27

I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food I have been cold and naked. 2 Corinthians 11:27

Clearly, fasting is an important biblical concept.

Lets dive into some biblical examples of fasting and why we fast.

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Fast For Intimacy With God Not Praise From Man

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.But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 1so 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.

-Matthew 6:16-18

As Christians, our intentions matter. Our faith takes life to a level unseen. It is possible to do everything right on the outside, but without the proper heart, it doesnt serve its purpose.

Fasting is one of those things.

If you are fasting to be seen by others as a good Christian,youre doing it wrong.

If youre fasting with a heart that can only focus on the things you lack and not a hunger that drives you into the arms of your Savior to satisfy your needs, youre doing it wrong.

Dont fast for attention, recognition, or the sake of not-so-silent suffering through the 40 days of Lent.

Fast to draw nearer to God and rely on Him on deeper levels than you have before.

Preparing For The Fast

The normal fast involves abstaining from all forms of food, but not from water, and commonly lasts 24 hours, from sunrise to sunrise. If you are fasting for the first time, you might begin by missing a meal or two. Over time, you can build up to a full day or more.

Begin by refraining from solid food, but drink liquids. Water is the best, since soft drinks are not good for the digestive system, and coffee and tea stimulate the nervous system. Before beginning a fast, it is best to eat lightly and cut back on caffeinated drinks. During the first few days of a multi-day fast, it is common to experience headaches as the body withdraws from caffeine.

If you are planning for an extended fast , you should prepare mentally and physically by cutting down on food intake one week before the actual fast, taking on a vegetarian diet to control cravings for food. Reduce your intake of beverages like coffee, tea and soft drinks as well.

Drink plenty of water.

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Biblical Examples Of Fasting

Fasting is a tool that has been used by Gods people throughout Biblical history, and it is still a powerful way for Christians to deepen their relationship with God. We see fasting documented all throughout the Bible, and is frequently referenced as an act of worship that is accompanied by prayer and repentance.

Here are a few examples of fasting that we see in the Bible:

Why Do Christians Fast What Does Biblical Fasting Accomplish


Biblical fasting is not a hunger strike between you and God. It can be easy to think of fasting as a way to add an extra oomph to your prayers. But biblical fasting isnt so much about how God responds to your prayers: its more about how you bring your prayers to Him.

God opposes the proud, but shows favor to the humble . Fasting is a means of humbling ourselves before God. In the Old Testament, fasting was often accompanied by other signs of humility and brokenness, such as weeping, mourning, and lamenting, as well as wearing sackcloth and sitting in ashes.

Bill Bright, Crus co-founder, made it his practice to fast and pray. He believed it played a vital role in what God did through him and through Cru as a ministry. He listed several benefits he gained from fasting:

  • Fasting is a biblical way to truly humble yourself in the sight of God. King David said, I humbled myself with fasting .
  • Fasting enables the Holy Spirit to reveal your true spiritual condition, resulting in brokenness, repentance and a transformed life.
  • Your confidence and faith in God will be strengthened. You will feel mentally, spiritually and physically refreshed.

Its important to understand that fasting is not a way to get a better response to prayer. Rather, true fasting is a means of fostering a better approach to prayer.

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Grow In Spiritual Strength

After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.

Matthew 4:2

Jesus fasted for forty days.

Forty days.

Its hard for me to fathom what His body would have felt like during that time.

Im imagining His human form felt quite weak.

Yet, He stood strong against the relentless temptation Satan kept shoving in His face.

He wasnt relying on a protein-filled breakfast or a good night of sleep for his mental sharpness to stand up to the devil.

He relied completely on Gods strength during His fast.

Fasting can strengthen us spiritually when we choose to stand on Gods Word in our own human frailty.

Before Biblical Fasting/how To Prepare

Before you undertake a fast, there are several things to consider and a few you should do to prepare.

Fasting should always be grounded in prayer and thanksgiving.

  • Ask God to reveal any hidden sins and confess every sin that is revealed, petitioning God for forgiveness.
  • Seek forgiveness from anyone you have hurt or sinned against and forgive those who have trespassed against you.
  • Pray that you would be filled with the Holy Spirit and fully yield your life to God.

Begin your time of fasting and prayer with an expectant heart that you will experience a spiritual breakthrough.

Be prepared for a spiritual attack. As I wrote in my post on my experience during the 40 day prayer challenge, Satan will not be happy about your commitment to God during this time.

Prepare Your Body

If you have any medical conditions or take any daily medications, consult with your doctor before going through a fast of longer than 24 hours.

If you plan on an extended fast, begin to cut down on food about a week before you begin the fast or consider following a vegetarian diet to prepare your body and be sure to increase your water intake, as well.

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