There are many times in the Bible where the people of God fasted for spiritual purposes. Many people can brush that off and say, “Well, that was before Jesus came.” However, there are examples of fasting in the New Testament that shouldn’t be ignored.
Once you realize the early church and Jesus practiced fasting during their ministry, you’ll be interested in learning more about fasting so you can implement it in your own life as well.
All scriptures are taken from the NKJV unless otherwise noted.
“Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.”
– Luke 4:1-2
Although Jesus was without sin and blameless before God, He is meant to be the Christian model to emulate. If He fasted, doesn’t that mean we should fast as well?
I do believe that during this fasting period of forty days, Jesus did not abstain from drinking water. The reason I believe this is because it does not indicate that He did. Also, it says he was hungry, but there’s no mention of Him being thirsty.
It’s important to understand that Jesus fasted before starting His ministry. While fasting, Jesus had a face-to-face encounter with Satan. In every temptation Satan set before Him, He was victorious. This illustration seems to express that fasting is an essential part of the Christian’s life if they want to be victorious over the devil. How could we expect to defeat the enemy if we’re not following the example Jesus set for us?
“Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region.”
– Luke 4:14
When Jesus first went to the desert, the scriptures say He was full of the Holy Spirit. However, when He left, he was in the power of the Spirit. This indicates there’s a difference between having the Holy Spirit and walking in the power of the Spirit.
Jesus had the Holy Spirit upon Him ever since He was baptized. Yet, it wasn’t until after He fasted that the power of the Holy Spirit was released.
Also, in Matthew chapter 6, Jesus taught His disciples about fasting and how to do it. He spoke about fasting in the same way He did about giving to the poor and praying. This would show that He expects His followers to do all of these things.
Related: What Does The Word ‘Fasting’ Mean In Hebrew And Greek?
Church At Antioch
“Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.”
– Acts 13:1-3
The leaders at the church of Antioch were fasting and gained revelation from the Holy Spirit that Saul and Barnabas were to be set apart for God’s work. If these people didn’t practice fasting, we can’t be sure they would’ve ever had the revelation they received.
“So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.”
– Acts 14:23
Paul and Barnabas fasted regularly during their ministry, especially when appointing elders. The spread of the gospel was possible by sending out apostles and establishing new converts through the appointment of elders. However, the early church didn’t do any of those without fasting and praying first.
Collective fasting helped to spread the gospel and it’s a tactic we should still use today.
To learn more about fasting, click here.
There are quite a few examples of fasting in the New Testament. Jesus, Paul, Barnabas, and the church leaders and elders at Antioch show us fasting is important and shouldn’t be neglected.
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