Things To Avoid When Fasting
There are two things that you can avoid when fasting to help you focus more on God.
The reason behind avoiding media is that fasting is a time to be praying and worshipping God, not filling your mind with the things of the world.
Avoiding tell everyone you know that you are fasting is to help ensure you are fasting with the right intentions. This does not mean you cannot tell anyone, but the purpose of fasting is not to focus on yourself. You are making a sacrifice. You are showing God that you are willing to fast to spend more time in His presence.
Which Fast Is The Best For You
Each one of these fasts is different. In the end, it is between you and God as to what you feel lead to sacrifice. Remember it is less about what type of fasting you do and more about your attitude and heart while fasting.
You could choose to do a soul fast and complain about missing your favorite tv show, this is missing the point of fasting. The purpose of fasting is to willingly give up food and sometimes even water and take the times you would be eating to pray.
If you are unsure of where to even start with fasting, doing a Daniel fast or partial fast for a week is a good place to start. Ask a friend to join you and do a corporate fast and times set aside to pray together.
Examples of fasting are found all throughout Scripture. We see how followers of Jesus, and Jesus himself, fasted.
The most important piece of fasting is not which of the seven ways of fasting you choose, but your heart behind it. Are you fasting to look good? Because that is not the heart we are to have while fasting. We are to fast out of humility and to discipline our mind and body by denying ourselves food and sometimes even water to focus on praying.
Christian fasting at its root, is the hunger of a homesickness for God.
- Think about food all the time
- Judge people who are not fasting
Bible Verses About How To Fast And Pray For A Breakthrough
Fasting and prayer helped many of Gods people achieve breakthroughs. Here are some examples:
In the account of the Israelites war with the Benjamites in Judges 20:26-28, the Israelite army had been decimated twice by the Benjamites. This was after asking God whether or not they should attack and being told yes. Afterward, they fasted and asked God, and God delivered the Israelites from the Benjamites in battle! This shows the power available to us using both prayer and fasting!
In Jonah 3:7-10, the Ninevites were about to be destroyed by God for their wicked behavior. But because the people and animals fasted and prayed and turned from their evil ways, they were spared!
In 2 Chronicles 20:2-30, Jehosephat, one of the few godly kings of Israel in the days of Kings, was about to be attacked by his enemies. He proclaimed a fast over all of Judah while he inquired of the Lord. Long story short, the enemy did indeed attack, but God caused the enemy armies to annihilate each other while Jehosephat and his army sang Gods praises on the sidelines!
Wow! Talk about a breakthrough!
As you can hopefully see, the Bible has a lot to say about the power of prayer and fasting! It tells us how to fast and how not to fast . It tells us why we should fast .
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Elijah Fasted While Escaping Jezebel 1 Kings 1: 4
Wicked Queen Jezebel threatened to kill the prophet Elijah after he won the great victory over the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. Elijah fled to Beer-sheba where he left his servant. Then he traveled alone another day into the wilderness.
Elijah found a juniper tree and rested. He prayed to God to allow him to die. He did not really want to die. If he did he could have stayed where he was and let the queen take care of him. Elijah was very discouraged and lay down for a nap. An angel came and fed him . Elijah took the food and then went back to sleep.
After being fed by the angel a second time, Elijah prepared for a great journey. The Bible says that Elijah traveled for 40 days in the strength of that food until he arrived at Mount Horeb . This is the same mountain where Moses received the 10 Commandments. It was called Mount Sinai during Moses time.
What Are The Minor Jewish Fast Days
Three of the four minor fasts are also related to the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple. In the Book of Zechariah, the prophet referred to them by the Hebrew months in which they fall: The fasts of the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth months will become joyful The fourth month is Tammuz, and on the 17th day of that month, the walls of Jerusalem were breached, allowing the enemy to enter. It took three weeks of fighting, but in the fifth month, on the ninth of Av, the First Temple was destroyed.
The seventh month is Tishrei, and on the third day of that month, Jews observe the Fast of Gedaliah. After the Babylonians destroyed the First Temple, they appointed a righteous Jew, Gedaliah, to govern the Jewish people. However, provoked by a foreign king, a prince of Judah assassinated Gedaliah. This led the Babylonians to exile the Jews remaining in the Holy Land, and the land sat barren for the next 52 years. The tenth month is Tevet, and on the tenth day of that month, the Babylonians laid siege to Jerusalem, which essentially marked the beginning of the end for the Jewish community at that time.
On the minor fast days, Jews only refrain from eating and drinking. In addition, they are observed from dawn until dusk and do not begin the night before as with major fast days.
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Seeking The Holy Spirits Guidance
So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.
It would seem that the church here fasted for guidance from the Holy Spirit. They didnt know what to do next, but they ached for Gods direction.
And this particular instance of fasting happened after Christs coming.
This fasting was not about legalism.
This was a deep hunger in these people searching for guidance of the churchs next steps.
Fasting Subdues Your Flesh
The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Matthew 26:41
Sometimes our natural circumstances can dominate our thoughts. You know, those up-in-your-face details you cant seem to get past? You want to operate in faith, you want to stand on the Word, but the facts are so blaring, the truth in Gods Word has inadvertently taken the back seat. So, how do you get God back in the drivers seat?
You have to clear away your flesh. You see, if we let it, our flesh will hijack our spiritual life, dominate our thinking and ultimately determine our outcomeunless we stop it. Sometimes, increasing our prayer time and doubling up on the Word of God will take care of it. But, if you need to hear divine direction from the Lord, fasting subdues your flesh and opens your spiritual ears to receive it.
Maybe youve been stuck in the same place, feeling like you havent received a manifestation of Gods promises, or perhaps you are seeking instruction from the Lord regarding a particular situation. Biblical fasting may pave the way for you to hear what God has been saying to you all along.
Whatever the purpose, fasting isnt just about abstaining from foodit is the act of separating yourself exclusively to God. It is the deliberate pushing of everything asidesubduing the fleshand giving Him your full attention. This allows your spirit man to dominate, and your spiritual ears will be wide open.
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Prayer And Fasting In The Bible
Fasting is mentioned throughout the Bible, in both the Old Testament and the New Testament . However, when Christians discuss fasting, two key passages often come up: one from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah and one from Jesus himself. But neither of these passages gives us specifics on how to abstain from food. Rather, both focus on the heart of the person fasting.
In Isaiah 58, God sees the nation of Israel abstaining from food for a day in order to seek help from God: justice for Israel and judgment on those who have oppressed Israel. However, the help does not come, and the people complain.
God turns the tables on Israel, pointing out how the Israelites are oppressing their own people. Employers withhold pay from the workers, and the people act violently toward each other. Through Isaiah, God tells the people that He doesnt want them to go a day without food He wants them to abstain from the ways theyve oppressed one another.
If you do away with the yoke of oppression,with the pointing finger and malicious talk,and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungryand satisfy the needs of the oppressed,then your light will rise in the darkness,and your night will become like the noonday.
The Israelites were merely putting on a show of fasting for God without truly following Him.
Likewise, when Jesus instructs His followers on how to fast, he tells them not to do so for show.
The Bible is full of examples of people who have abstained from food to seek God:
What The Bible Says About Fasting
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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David Mourning His Childs Illness 2 Samuel 1: 1
After David had committed adultery with Bathsheba he learned that she was pregnant. David had her husband executed so that he could take her to be his wife. At some point after the baby was born Nathan the prophet confronted David about his sin. David confessed and repented .
Even though David repented before God, there were still consequences for his actions. The prophet told David that the child would die. After the prophet left, the young boy became very ill. David immediately went into prayer and fasting for his son. He knew that God said the child would die, but he had hoped that he might find grace in the eyes of God.
David refused to eat while the child was ill. After the seventh day his son died. When Davids servants told him about the childs death, David cleaned himself up, ceased from his mourning and began to eat once again .
The servants were surprised by the actions of the king. But David said that now that the child had died, there was nothing that could be done. He would one day see his son again in Heaven .
More Examples Of Fasting
There are many more examples of fasting in the Bible. I hope these 10 give you insight to the various reasons and types of fasts that the Bible teaches.
Do you have any examples of fasting found in the pages of scripture that has been particularly insightful in your life? Tell us about them in the comments below.
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Powerful Prayer During Fasting
You are righteous, compassionate, merciful and loving and all glory and honor are Yours. You are the source of all wisdom and knowledge and bring light into darkness. You have created us to be curious and to seek wisdom and understanding.
We praise you and thank you for hearing our prayers and for Your Son, in whom all treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden. We thank you for giving us Your Word to guide us.
Father, please guide me to seek Your wisdom each day. Lord, help us to be obedient to you and your ways. Help us to seek your face each day, in all we do.
Jehovah, keep us free from temptation and evil. Help us to turn to you as our stronghold and refuge. Thank you, Lord, for the temptations that we face as they reveal to us our dependence on you.
I am a sinner, Father and I ask forgiveness for my sins. Although I deserve punishment, you are merciful and forgive my fleshly transgressions. I am so sorry for my weakness and rejoice in your mercy.
God, I desire to relentlessly pursue You. Please walk with me and stir in me a passion for you that is unbending.
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Fasting And The Day Of Atonement
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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Why Should I Fast 7 Examples Of Fasting In The Bible
Although the Bible doesnt give a direct command on this issue, examples of fasting appear in both the Old and the New Testaments. One of the most telling passages in which fasting is mentioned is Matthew 6:16, where Jesus is teaching His disciples basic principles of godly living. When speaking on fasting, He begins with, When you fast, not If you fast.
Jesus words imply that fasting will be a regular practice in His followers lives.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his book The Cost of Discipleship, said, Jesus takes it for granted that His disciples will observe the pious custom of fasting. Strict exercise of self-control is an essential feature of the Christian life. Such customs have only one purpose to make the disciples more ready and cheerful to accomplish those things which God would have done.
Fasting prepares you for the works God has ordained for you to do.
Wesley Duewel, a twentieth-century writer, said, You and I have no more right to omit fasting because we feel no special emotional prompting than we have a right to omit prayer, Bible reading, or assembling with Gods children for lack of some special emotional prompting. Fasting is just as biblical and normal a part of a spiritual walk of obedience with God as are these others.
People fast for a number of reasons. Following are seven circumstances in the Bible in which believers sought God through this discipline.
Fasting is a much-needed discipline in the life of a believer.
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Where Does The Custom Of Fasting Come From
The purpose of fasting comes from the ancient tradition of fasting is more relevant today than ever. It is a beneficial break in fashion from consumption and hectic daily life, and one of the most natural means of regenerating holistically and increasing vitality.
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Should Christians Still Fast Today
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
Jesus did not command fasting, but it was a normal occurrence in His earthly time, and it would have made sense to His followers to take up this practice as a spiritual discipline. Fasting is not just for food, but food is widely used in different types of fasting. Fasting from food should be progressive and can be full or partial. Sam Storms, in his Crosswalk.com article, What Christians Need to Know about Fasting, lists the following different types of fasts: a partial fast, abstaining from a particular food a liquid fast, abstaining from all solid foods an absolute fast, abstaining from all food and liquids, and a supernatural fast, as in Moses refraining from eating or drinking for 40 days.
Fasting could be refraining from Netflix, spending the time it takes to binge a whole season in prayer or dedicate the same amount of time in prayer as our weekly screen time report reveals. Put thought into what you are abstaining from, and your fast can be short, intermittent, or longer. Theres not one type of fast that fits all its important that the fast is between you and God rather than a group fad youre joining.