If you’re new to fasting as a Bible believer, don’t worry. I’ve compiled a list of the most commonly asked questions about fasting.
“Consecrate a fast,
Call a sacred assembly;
Gather the elders
And all the inhabitants of the land
Into the house of the Lord your God,
And cry out to the Lord.”
– Joel 1:14
All scriptures are taken from the NKJV unless otherwise noted.
My journey to fasting began when I sensed the Holy Spirit lead me to learn more about fasting. I order multiple books about fasting, but it didn’t take long at all until I realized God wanted me to fast. I was about ten pages into my first book when I sensed such a strong conviction to fast.
From there, I decided I was going to learn all I can about this subject in order to fast correctly. It’s been a habit I’ve implemented in my life and I can already see the difference in my spiritual walk. I pray to answer your questions and hope you try out fasting for yourself.
What Is Fasting?
Fasting is deliberately going without food (and sometimes liquids) for spiritual purposes. Usually, fasting does not include abstaining from fluids (which is very dangerous). However, there are a few occasions in the Bible where people abstained from water as well as food.
Fasting Is A Spiritual Weapon
The Bible shares many stories with us that include using fasting, praying, and mourning together as spiritual weapons against the forces of darkness.
Jehoshaphat, king of Judah in 2 Chronicles chapter 20, used fasting as a weapon. Armies from Ammon, Mount Seir, and Moab were coming to invade his kingdom. In response to their threat, he cried out to God.
“And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.”
– 2 Chronicles 20:1-3
Every person in Judah collectively got together and fasted, including children (verse 13). They were looking toward God for some sort of divine intervention. While Jehoshaphat was crying out to God in prayer, the Spirit of the Lord fell upon Jahaziel.
“Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. And he said, “Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.”
– 1 Chronicles 20:14-17
When Jehoshaphat heard this response to his prayer from God, he continued to pray, worship, and praise God. He appointed singers to sing praises to God. Then, God stepped in.
“Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated. For the people of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir to utterly kill and destroy them. And when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another.
So when Judah came to a place overlooking the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude; and there were their dead bodies, fallen on the earth. No one had escaped.”
– 2 Chronicles 20:22-24
The invaders turned on one another and no one survived. The people of Judah didn’t have to do anything for their victory. They had three full days of collecting spoil from the dead bodies.
We should learn from this and understand that God is the one who fights our battles, but we have to do our part.
Why Should Christians Fast?
To Humble Oneself
“I humbled myself with fasting…”
– Psalm 35:13
In Psalm 35, King David claims that he humbled himself through fasting. God asks us repeatedly throughout the Bible to humble ourselves. This is something God expects us to do in obedience to Him. He claims He will exalt those who humble themselves. (Matthew 23:12)
If you want God to exalt you, then you must humble yourself.
“The Lord lifts up the humble;
He casts the wicked down to the ground.”
– Psalm 147:6
Gain Instruction And Direction From God
“Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way for us and our little ones and all our possessions.”
– Ezra 8:21
Fasting and praying is a wonderful way to seek God’s face. He promises us that if we acknowledge Him in all our ways, He will direct our paths. (Proverbs 3:6) Therefore, if you take the time to pray and fast, humbling yourself, God will certainly show you the direction He wants you to go.
Fasting can quiet the world around you and allow you to hear God more clearly, which is important before making any big decisions in your life.
To Seek Healing
“Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily…”
– Isaiah 58:8
In my last blog post, How To Prepare For A Fast, I went through eleven different promises found in the Word of God about fasting. They are found in Isaiah chapter 58. One of these promises is health.
This can also be applied to the suffering one experiences from a demonic spirit. In Matthew 17, Jesus healed a boy from epilepsy. When His disciples asked why they couldn’t cast out the demon, Jesus responded, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
Jesus’ ministry was mainly one of healing and deliverance. Before His ministry officially started, He fasted for forty days and forty nights. Jesus is our example and God says “the servant is not greater than the master.” (John 13:16) If Jesus fasted, shouldn’t we?
To Understand God’s Word More Clearly
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”
– James 4:8
While fasting, you’ll find out that your head is more clear than normal and it gives you the ability to understand God’s Word deeper with great concentration. This alone is a wonderful reason for fasting.
The Need For Divine Intervention
“And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.”
– 2 Chronicles 20:1-3
In 2 Chronicles chapter 2, Jehoshaphat found himself in a scary predicament. Large armies were collectively coming to invade his kingdom from Ammon, Mount Seir, and Moab. At the time, he was the king of Judah. Upon hearing this distressing news, he proclaimed a fast throughout his entire kingdom.
Every woman, man, and child was included in this fast. During their period of fasting, the enemies turned on each other and slaughtered one another. The kingdom of Judah didn’t have to lift a single weapon! The only thing they had to do was collect the spoil afterward. There were so many valuable items that it took them three whole days to collect them all.
God is still the same today. He can do anything He desires and when we seek Him, it shows that we’re looking to Him and Him alone to answer our prayers.
To Pray And Intercede On Behalf Of Others
If you’re concerned about someone you love who doesn’t know God or who is not saved, fasting and praying on their behalf will greatly benefit them. It expresses to God that you’re willing to sacrifice something of yours for someone else. In addition to that, it takes great faith to do a sacrificial action for someone you love.
If you’re going to fast and pray for a loved one (or with any objective in mind), I recommend making a list of things you’re praying for. You’ll be completely astonished when you look back throughout the years at all the prayers God has answered.
Submit To The Holy Spirit
“But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”
– 1 Corinthians 9:27
In Romans 8:7, Paul says the carnal mind is enmity against God. The flesh is ruled by emotion and feelings. However, if we want the power of the Holy Spirit, we must crucify the flesh. We have to rule over it or else we’ll become a slave to it.
Self-discipline is not an easy accomplishment, but it is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23) Every Christian has to ask themselves: Am I controlled by my body or do I control my body? Fasting is not easy at first and really tests our ability to say no to the flesh.
As you continue to say no to the flesh, the Holy Spirit will get stronger within you.
As you can see there are many reasons God tells us to fast. Some of these reasons why we should fast are to:
- Humble oneself
- Gain instruction and direction from God
- Receive divine intervention
- Seek healing
- Understand God’s Word more clearly
- Pray and intercede on behalf of others
- Submit to the Holy Spirit
How To Prepare For A Fast
The mind is extremely powerful and our attitude toward our fast has a great impact on whether or not it’ll be successful. When we think about our fast, we should be confident it’s the will of God for us and that He’ll bless us for being obedient. Don’t rely on your feelings when it comes to fasting. Just like everything else, we’re obedient in fasting because God tells us to be and we have the power of the Holy Spirit to help us.
“But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”
– Matthew 6:17-18
This scripture reveals a promise of God. If we fast with the right motive and in the correct way, God will openly reward us. Therefore, you’d be depriving yourself of the very best if you do not fast. God can’t reward you if you don’t meet the requirements of the promises of scripture.
Hebrews 11:6 tells us that it’s impossible to please God without faith. Our attitude toward fasting must be one of faith.
If you have some sort of medical disorder, please don’t fast unless you speak with your doctor first. There are some people who have to regularly take medicine or cannot go extended periods without food. For example, diabetics must keep their blood chemistry at a certain level.
In this case, other Christians should fast for these people.
When you fast, protect yourself from constipation. Before and after fasting, eat foods that will promote healthy bowel movements such as fruit, vegetables, oatmeal, fruit juices, etc.
Also, don’t attempt to abstain from fluids for any more than 72 hours. That’s extremely dangerous and I would recommend against it 100%.
What Should I Expect During A Fast?
When fasting, take extra time for prayer and reading your Bible. If you feel like you have no time, I’d like to point out that you have the time that would normally be spent eating. Therefore, take that time and read the Bible and pray. Spend some time concentrating on the goodness of God in worship and focus on Him.
Also, be aware that the enemy will likely attack you. Whenever you begin to make positive progress for the Kingdom of God, the enemy is likely to attack. Therefore, be prepared against it. If you feel negative emotions begin to engulf you, recognize it as an attack and treat it as such. You may feel things like doubt, fear, loneliness, or depression. Don’t get worried or discouraged. Take that as a compliment because the enemy wouldn’t be attacking you if you weren’t a threat to his kingdom.
I’d recommend spending some time meditating on the basics truths of God’s Word:
- God loves you.
- You’re created in His special image.
- He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
- He’ll never leave you nor forsake you.
- Nothing can separate you from God’s love.
No matter how you feel, these things will always remain true. Don’t let the enemy lie to you or steal your obedience from God.
“Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”
– Matthew 6:16-18
Another thing I’d like to warn you against is putting on a religious show. It’s true that you may feel super excited about your fast and may want to boast, but Jesus warns us against doing that.
Don’t put it on public display, brag about it, or make a show of it. Sure, there will be people that have to know about it. However, leave it at that. You should be able to continue your regular life while fasting. After some time, you may realize you can perform certain activities better while fasting. You might be surprised!
How Long Should I Fast?
Fasting can be different for everyone. However, if you’re just starting to integrate fasting into your lifestyle (or haven’t started yet), I wouldn’t recommend starting with a long period of time. Don’t try to begin with a whole week or even a whole day. While some people start there and achieve it, I wouldn’t want you to become discouraged.
If you choose too long of a period and don’t achieve it, it can discourage you and deter you from trying again. Just like with anything else, starting with a smaller, more attainable goal would be better.
If you’re new to fasting, begin with abstaining from your last meal of the day. For example, let’s say you eat at 3 pm and usually eat again around 7 pm. I would start by fasting from 3 pm to the next day at breakfast time.
Try that and if you succeed, then you can begin skipping the meal before that one. That would probably be something like 12 pm to the next day. After achieving that, then you can move on to fasting the entire day.
Once you become stronger in fasting, then it would be time to seek God and see if He wants you to fast longer than that. It’s possible to fast for two or even three weeks. However, I don’t believe the length of time should be your objective. It’s not important the amount of time you fast, but that you fast with the right motives in the will of God.
How Should I Break A Fast?
Whenever you finish a fast, always eat something light. This is true even if you’ve only fasted for a small period of time. A meal such as a salad or fruit would be best. Avoid greasy, heavy, and fatty foods. If you decide to eat vegetables, especially leafy greens, it can do a wonderful purging job on your body. It would be similar to a brush deep cleaning your intestines.
While breaking a fast, it’s important to practice self-control. You will be hungry and want to eat all sorts of things once you break your fast. Hold off and eat slowly, over an extended period of time.
In addition to that, the longer you fast the more gradually you must break it. While fasting, your stomach shrinks in size and you shouldn’t expand it again in a short period of time. Eat until you feel full even if you’re plate is only half empty. Many people have over-extended stomachs and will be tempted to overeat. Instead of over-eating, listen to your body when it’s full. Use wisdom to stop when you’ve had enough.
Fasting can help change eating habits and is beneficial in that aspect.
Different Types Of Fasts
While there are times God may lead us to abstain from liquids as well as foods, it’s extremely dangerous. There are only two times in the Bible where fasting was done in this way for an extended period of time. These characters were Moses and Elijah. In both of these instances, they fasted forty days. However, they were under incredible supernatural circumstances and I don’t believe we should try to imitate their behavior.
There is another time in the Bible where people abstained from water as well as food. This is found in the book of Esther.
“Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!”
– Esther 4:16
Esther commanded the Jews to fast from liquids and foods for three days. This would be 72 hours. I believe that’s the time limit God set for us to observe and I would not recommend anyone abstain from liquids for more than that! It’s extremely dangerous.
“In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.”
– Daniel 10:2-3
In this scenario, Daniel only conducted a partial fast. He didn’t abstain from all foods or liquids. Instead, he chose to fast from select foods such as pleasant foods or desserts.
There may be times when God directs you to do a partial fast.
Click here to learn more about Daniel fasts.
Just like prayer, fasting can be done in a group setting. At times, this is more effective depending on what your objective is. God moves when His people cry out to Him and there’s great power in unity.
I definitely believe we should fast on our own as well. However, if God is calling His people together to organize a fast for a desired spiritual result, we should obey Him. Group fasting is a spiritual weapon and has been used many times throughout the Bible. Don’t allow the enemy to steal this valuable tool from you!
Blessings Of Fasting
“Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And your righteousness shall go before you;
The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’
“If you take away the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
If you extend your soul to the hungry
And satisfy the afflicted soul,
Then your light shall dawn in the darkness,
And your darkness shall be as the noonday.
The Lord will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones;
You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
Those from among you
Shall build the old waste places;
You shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach,
The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.”
– Isaiah 58:6-12
This scripture reveals many promises to those who fast in the correct way. These promises are:
- answered prayer
- continual guidance
- work that endures
Why would any believer in Christ not want to take part in those benefits? These are specifically promised to anyone who would fast in accordance with God’s will. By using the power of faith to fast, we are obeying the Word of God and He will reward us.
Although there are many questions people new to fasting ask, I’ve done my very best to answer the most common ones for you. Fasting has already enhanced my spiritual walk with God. It helps me hear His voice more clearly and I can pray more intensely.
Also, there are many examples of fasting in the New Testament, which I believe proves that it’s something all Christians should observe.
I pray you found this article helpful. If so, please share this content. Also, feel free to leave a comment below. As always, thanks for reading!
This was one of the best articles that I have read about fasting. Thank you so much for this. Could you please provide a list of the books that you read about fasting?
This was a really well written piece on fasting. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I have been trying to find good resources on the subject, which isn’t as easy as it would seem.