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Why Did People Fast In The Bible

Fasting As A Worldview

Fasting & Prayer For Gods Presence | Why Fast?

Finally, lets explore the prophet Isaiahs words regarding the practice of fasting, of pursuing answers from God or showing ones remorse over a certain life situation. In this, Isaiah clarifies what God wants to see in our lives when we fastnamely, a sincere devotion to himself and others without self-imposed blinders for the situations around us.

Individuals who fast to seek answers to their questions cant ignore the other dictates of the Bible or the situations around them where they are called to become the hands and feet of God in their circle of influence. In short, fasting is futile if were asking questions for which the answers lie outside the will of God.

In the following passages, Isaiah calls out the people for their refusal to act in ways that would truly reflect their personal devotion to God and his purposes in the world :

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:to loose the chains of injusticeand untie the cords of the yoke,to set the oppressed freeand break every yoke?Is it not to share your food with the hungryand to provide the poor wanderer with shelterwhen you see the naked, to clothe them,and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?Isaiah 58:67

But the chastising we read in Isaiah 58 does not come without hope and a promisea promise that was as true for its initial hearers as it is for us today.

Health Reasons To Fast

God created man and God knows what is good for us in all ways, including our physical health. With the vast amount of physical benefits that fasting offers us, it is no wonder why the Lord commanded His people to fast. It is actually extremely healthy to abstain from food. However, we cannot overlook the sensitivity to preexisting physical and health conditions, such as low blood sugar and eating disorders. Please do what is right for you given your preexisting health conditions.

For most, fasting is a great health benefit. From brain enhancement to stronger immune systems, and even higher metabolisms with a slower aging process. And we cant forget that it actually detoxes the body. This is all done when we fast.

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 .

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Fast For Protection From Evil

Other times we are faced with situations that are purely evil. When there is something oppressive that you cant shake, a time of fasting can bring peace and healing.

  • The disciples were upset that they could not cast out a demon Jesus answered that This kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting Matthew 17:21
  • Again we see a fast with a prayer for protection in Ezra 8:21-23.
  • Not only can we fast for personal protection, but we can also intercede for others as in Ester 4:16.

What Are Other Types Of Fasting

Why Should Christians Fast?

The most common type of fast is fasting from food for a period of time, but are there other types?

TV/Movie Fast: You can take a break from a weekly favorite and use the time to pray or read the Bible. Is there a small group at church that you’ve thought about joining but it’s during the time your show is on? Do you spend your Saturday binging Netflix when you could take some time to mentor someone God has placed on your heart? This is also a good time to evaluate how much of your time is spent watching TV and whether you need to cut back to make time for other priorities.

Social Media Fast: This is becoming one of the more common fasts in our culture. Do you need to take some time away from the noise and refresh? Log out of your accounts, delete them from your device for a period of time, and just spend that time being present with God. Pray and listen. Spend some time in nature soaking in His beauty. Spend some time alone worshipping God.

Secular Music Fast: Instead of listening to Top Hits on the radio, you can choose to listen to the Christian radio station for a period of time. Pop in a CD of your favorite worship leader when you’re driving to work. Listen to a Christian podcast or audiobook. You can even turn the stereo off completely and spend that time in prayer. You’ll be amazed what this little change will do for your life.

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Why Do We Fast

The Bible gives examples of God’s people occasionally combining fasting with their prayers so as to stir up their zeal and renew their dedication and commitment to Him. King David wrote that he “humbled self with fasting” . Fasting is a means of getting our minds back on the reality that we are not self-sufficient. Fasting helps us realize just how fragile we are and how much we depend on things beyond ourselves.

The Bible records that great men of faith such as Moses, Elijah, Daniel, Paul and Jesus Himself fasted so that they might draw closer to God . Jesus knew that His true disciples, once He was no longer there in the flesh with them, at times would need to fast to regain and renew their zeal to serve Him .

James tells us, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” . Constant prayer and occasional fasting help us to do this.

Fasting In Preparation For A Battle

Fasting was also practiced before battle. For example, Saul forbids his troop from eating, ostensibly to arouse Gods sympathy and give him an advantage in battle .

1 Sam 14:24 The men of Israel were distressed that day. For Saul had laid an oath upon the troops: Cursed be the man who eats any food before night falls and I take revenge on my enemies. So none of the troops ate anything.

2 Maccabees 13:12 describes a similar practice at a later period :

2 Macc 13:12 When they had all joined in the same petition and had implored the merciful Lord with weeping and fasting and lying prostrate for three days without ceasing, Judas exhorted them and ordered them to stand ready .

The underlying assumption is that God will see his peoples pathetic state and come to their aid.

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The Duration Of The Fast

Fasting can be done on a daily, weekly, or annual basis. Many people who choose to fast do so intermittently, such as during a portion of their workday, to focus on seeking God for an hour or two, and then they go back to a regular eating schedule. Others find benefits in fasting during a certain time of the month or year to pursue guidance and direction from God. Again, the duration and length of your fast are personal decisions only you can make.

Fasting In The Torah: Returning To The Sustaining Presence Of God

How and Why to Fast and Pray | Bible Beginnings Series

The Torah does not regulate or enjoin fasting per se on the people of the covenant.30 But several key points emerge that contribute to and set the foundation for the rest of the biblical theology of fasting. Of the greatest significance are the nature of the food prohibition in the Garden of Eden, the supernatural fasting of Moses on Sinai, the injunction of personal affliction on the Day of Atonement, and the various dietary restrictions of the law. As seen in the following section, together these metathemes associate fasting with living in or returning to the sustaining presence of God.

The Prohibition in the Garden: Abstinence as a Condition of Life with God

Then the Lord God commanded the man, You may freely eat fruit from every tree of the orchard, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will surely die.

Gen 2:16-17, NET Bible

The first sin in the Bible was a violation of a dietary restriction. Even in the Garden of Eden, a restriction on dietary behavior was imposed. As Nahum Sarna comments, Unrestricted freedom does not exist. Man is called upon by God to exercise restraint and self-discipline in the gratification of his appetite. This prohibition is the paradigm for the future Torah legislation relating to the dietary laws.31

Food as a Tool of Divine Discipline
Hope for Deliverance
The Body as Material

All of this sets up the tension inherent in theological anthropology. Von Rad writes:

Lev 16:29-30

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Fasting And Medical Safety

According to The Foods and Nutrition Encyclopedia, For healthy individuals, no harm results from short-term fasting. The average healthy person can go without food between 21 and 40 or more days before the body begins to eliminate vital tissue . Consult your physician before beginning any fast lasting longer than three days.

If you have underlying health conditions such as pregnancy, anemia, behavioral disorders or other chronic health problems, you should never fast without consulting a physician first.

The Method Of Fasting You Want To Pursue

Fasting doesnt necessarily involve a complete cessation of eating it can be done by cutting down the number of calories you ingest for a certain period of time as well. For many people, however, the time and focus saved on preparing and eating food work well to change their focus to the issue at hand. Still, if you try a complete fast and find that youre distracted by the lack of food, consider simply cutting your caloric intake back drastically and eat small amounts of food during your fast. Experts recommend 500 calories per day for women, and 600 calories per day for men.

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Ezra Fasted While Mourning Over Sin Ezra : 6

The Jews began to return to Israel after the Babylonian captivity. Yet they had disobeyed Gods laws during their captivity. Ezra gathered the people together to confront them for their sins.

Ezra 10:6 does not say specifically how long his fast was . The Bible does tell us that he did not eat any bread and only drank water during this fast. He fasted because he was mourning the sins of those who had been carried away from Israel but had finally returned.

Inward: To Express Repentance

Why Christian Fasting Doesnt Work!

The first, most common, and perhaps most fundamental type of fast expresses repentance. Think of it as inward. Gods people realize their sin typically not small indiscretions or lapses in judgment, but deep and prolonged rebellion and come seeking his forgiveness.

For instance, in 1 Samuel 7, Gods people become freshly aware of their past and present idolatries . They want to return to the Lord and newly direct heart to the Lord and serve him only . They assemble, under Samuels leadership, fast as a demonstration of their repentance, and confess, We have sinned against the Lord . Similarly, in 1 Kings 21, even though king Ahab sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord , he humbled himself with fasting when confronted by the prophet Elijah and God was pleased to delay impending disaster, even for such an evil king .

Old Testament saints often expressed an inward heart of repentance to God not only in words but with the exclamation point of fasting. Such fasts did not earn his forgiveness but demonstrated the genuineness of their contrition.

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Spiritual Preparation For Fasting And Prayer

In preparation for this special time with God, cru.orgs guide to fasting urges that you examine your heart. Ask God to help you see your brokenness clearly so that you can confess your sins and repent. In Scripture, God frequently calls upon people to repent of their sins before listening to their prayers.

You can look to King Davids example in Psalm 66:16-20:

Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for me. I cried aloud to him, and he was extolled with my tongue.If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.But truly God has listened he has given heed to the words of my prayer.

Blessed be God,

Why You Should Fast

If you do not already know of the power and importance of fasting, here are some very important facts:

  • Fasting was an expected discipline in both the Old and New Testament eras. For example, Moses fasted at least two recorded forty-day periods. Jesus fasted 40 days and reminded His followers to fast, when you fast, not if you fast.
  • Fasting and prayer can restore the loss of the first love for your Lord and result in a more intimate relationship with Christ.
  • Fasting is a biblical way to truly humble yourself in the sight of God . King David said, I humble myself through fasting.
  • Fasting enables the Holy Spirit to reveal your true spiritual condition, resulting in brokenness, repentance, and a transformed life.
  • The Holy Spirit will quicken the Word of God in your heart and His truth will become more meaningful to you!
  • Fasting can transform your prayer life into a richer and more personal experience.
  • Fasting can result in a dynamic personal revival in your own lifeand make you a channel of revival to others.
  • Fasting and prayer are the only disciplines that fulfill the requirements of II Chronicles 7:14:If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

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How To Fast Safely

As you begin your fast, you may hear from concerned loved ones and friends who urge you to protect your health. And they are right. You should protect your health. But I assure you, if done properly, fasting will not only prove to be a spiritual blessing, but physical blessing as well.

When you are assured that you are in good health, you are ready to begin your fast. Follow the guidelines in the Physical Preparations and Maintaining Nutritional Balance and Health parts of this website.

In spite of the absolute safety and benefits of fasting, there are certain persons who should NEVER fast without professional supervision. For example:

  • Persons who are physically too thin or emaciated.
  • Persons who are prone to anorexia, bulimia, or other behavioral disorders.
  • Those who suffer weakness or anemia.
  • Persons who have tumors, bleeding ulcers, cancer, blood diseases, or who have heart disease.
  • Those who suffer chronic problems with kidneys, liver, lungs, heart, or other important organs.
  • Individuals who take insulin for diabetes, or suffer any other blood sugar problem such as hyperglycemia.
  • Women who are pregnant or nursing.

Examples Of Fasting In The Bible

3 Reasons Why Jesus Fasted In The Wilderness
Saturday March 04 2017

The Lenten season is here and fasting prepares you for the works God has ordained you to do.


  • RECOMMIT TO GOD. The Lenten season is here and fasting prepares you for the works God has ordained you to do. KRISTEN FEOLA tells why you should fast.

    Fasting was an expected discipline in both the Old and New Testament eras.Fasting and prayer can restore the loss of the first love for your Lord and result in a more intimate relationship with Christ.Fasting is a biblical way to truly humble yourself in the sight of God.It enables the Holy Spirit to reveal your true spiritual condition, resulting in brokenness, repentance, and a transformed life.

1. To prepare for ministry. Jesus spent 40 days and nights in the wilderness fasting and praying before He began Gods work on this earth. He needed time alone to prepare for what His Father had called Him to do .

2. To seek Gods wisdom. Paul and Barnabas prayed and fasted for the elders of the churches before committing them to the Lord for His service .

3. To show grief. Nehemiah mourned, fasted, and prayed when he learned Jerusalems walls had been broken down, leaving the Israelites vulnerable and disgraced .4. To seek deliverance or protection. Ezra declared a corporate fast and prayed for a safe journey for the Israelites as they made the 900- mile trek to Jerusalem from Babylon .

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Reasons God Calls His People To A Fast With Hope

Why do we fast and pray? Yes, Jesus said His disciples would fast, but that isnt always enough of a reason for me to do things. Can you relate?

It took a lot of hard situations pilling up to bring me to my knees. Even at my knees it still took godly mentors to convince me to fast. Then it took years of practicing fasting to learn how to effectively fast and pray for Spiritual Breakthrough.

There are many other reasons to fast but more specifically, they are reasons God calls us His people to fast with hope for breakthrough, healing, and growth!

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