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When You Fast

"But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that your fasting is not evident to others, but is evident to your Father who sees everything which is done secretly; and your Father, who sees what you do secretly, will reward you openly (Matthew 6:18)."

We have sensed a need for some clear teaching along the lines of prayer and fasting, and of the two, fasting seems to be the most misunderstood or the least talked about among Christians. Those in the Western world have very little experience with fasting, whereas those in the Eastern world are very experienced. Fasting is not limited to Christians only; most religious people in the East observe some kind of fasting, regardless of their faith.

That Jesus intends for His disciples to fast is made clear by the words, "When you fast..." If it were a matter of personal preference the Lord would have said, "IF you fast." The word WHEN implies that there will be times when a disciple of the Lord is called into a time of fasting. It seems to be a foregone conclusion. Fasting is as much a part of a disciple's life as prayer; hence the Lord couples, "When you pray" with "when you fast" in His teaching to the disciples.

We can account for the lack of specific direction in the Bible about HOW to fast by reiterating again that fasting was and is commonly practiced in the East, and people knew how to do it. Some practical advice along these lines may be helpful to those who are not as experienced but sense the Lord is quickening them to seek His face with prayer and with fasting.

First, let us establish the history of fasting in the Bible and its validity upon the Church today.


The most notable examples of fasting are found in the lives of the prophets. The prophetic ministry is inescapably linked to fasting. Moses fasted for forty days on two separate occasions (Deuteronomy 9:9,19). Elijah fasted for forty days in the wilderness (I Kings 19:8). Jesus also fasted for forty days (Luke 4:2). Daniel fasted on several occasions, and he gives us the most insight into different ways to fast (Daniel 1:8; 9:3; 10:2,3). Esther asked the Jews to fast for her by going without food or drink for three days (Esther 4:16). David frequently fasted as a way to show sorrow for his sins (II Samuel 12:16-20; 69:10; 109:24). Ezra and Nehemiah were both men of fasting and prayer (Ezra 8:21; Nehemiah 1:4). The Jews observed regular fasts as part of the Law of Moses, and fasting seemed to be the rallying cry for all Israel whenever a time of great crisis was at hand (Joel 1:13,14).

Even wicked king Ahab was granted some grace from God because he humbled himself with prayer and fasting (I Kings 21:25-29). So fasting is not limited to saints and holy people. Nineveh was the capital of Assyria, one of the first world powers, and a pagan society. Yet when Jonah preached that Nineveh would be destroyed in forty days, the response was uncharacteristic and surprising:

"...the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose form his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by saying, 'Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from His fierce anger, that we perish not?' And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that He had said that He would do unto them and He did it not (Jonah 3:5-10)."

It is noteworthy that the Assyrians would not even allow their animals to eat or drink during this time of national repentance. We have yet to see the likes of this anywhere else in the world.

Fasting is not limited to the Old Testament. Scripture tells us that Anna never departed the Temple, but ministered to the Lord with prayer and fasting day and night (Luke 2:37). John the Baptist and his disciples observed fasting, as did the Pharisees (Matthew 9:14). Jesus indicated that once He returned to heaven, His disciples would fast as well (Matthew 9:15).

And so they did. Because Cornelius fasted and prayed, the Gospel was first preached to the Gentiles in his home, establishing that Christ was not the Savior for Jews only, but for the whole world (Acts 10:30). Fasting and prayer launched the first missionary journey of Paul which would turn the whole world upside down (Acts 13:2,3). The apostles fasted and prayed each time they confirmed elders in the new churches they established (Acts 14:23). Paul recommended that husbands and wives occasionally abstain from sexual relations, by consent, for the purpose of fasting and prayer (I Corinthians 7:5). He fasted often himself (II Corinthians 6:5; 11:27).


If we will take the time to read through the Scriptures cited above we will find four primary reasons for fasting. It is time to fast when:

1. We want to minister to the Lord (Anna, the Antiochian believers);

2. We want to show personal contrition and sorrow for our sins (David, Nineveh, Ahab) or for the sins of others (Daniel, Nehemiah, Ezra);

3. We need revelation concerning the present and direction concerning the future (Daniel, Cornelius, the apostles);

4. We experience times of great spiritual crisis and conflict (Jesus, Moses, Elijah, Daniel, Esther, Paul).

Our study of the above examples also show four kinds of fasting. They include:

1. THE SUPERNATURAL FAST - going beyond the limits of human endurance by the direct hand of God, such as Moses' forty day fast in which he did not eat or drink. Humanly speaking, a man cannot survive without water for longer than three or four days. This was a supernatural fast, and is not likely to be repeated.

2. THE TOTAL FAST - going without food or water, such as Esther's fast and Nineveh's fast. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and the pending destruction of an entire nation or city would call for this kind of fast. It should never be attempted for longer than three days, and only if the Lord's direction is unmistakably clear.

3. THE NORMAL FAST - going without food, but drinking liquids. This is the traditional and most common form of fasting, and is the kind of fast Jesus observed in the wilderness. We know this because the Bible says He was hungry, but it does not say He was thirsty (Luke 4:2). A normal fast will be of varying length, anywhere from one meal, to one day, three days, seven days, or even twenty-one days, but it will never exceed forty days.

4. THE PARTIAL FAST - observing a special diet, but not necessarily abstaining from all food. Daniel was a master of this particular kind of fast, and it is preferable for those who cannot totally go without food for health or other reasons. Daniel observed this kind of fast when he refused meat and wine and asked for pulse (a kind of vegetable stew) and water. On another occasion he observed the same fast and also abstained from "pleasant bread", which may have been something like cake or some delicacy. It is a known fact that Charles Wesley fasted by eating only bread and water. A partial fast may also include going without breakfast for several days in succession, or eating only one meal a day. The possibilities for this kind of fast are endless, and it is a good place for the novice to begin.


It is better to live a life of continual fasting and prayer than it is to suddenly find yourself in a situation which calls for fasting and be totally unprepared to deny yourself. We can and should live, eat, and drink modestly at all times. If we are used to eating all we want then it will be very difficult to respond to the Lord when He desires us to seek His face with fasting. So we should be on the alert, constantly watching and praying, so that we are ready to respond immediately to the circumstances that are presented to us. It may be that we have no time to prepare at all, but the situation is so urgent that we drop everything immediately when a word like Jonah's is brought to our attention. We should conduct ourselves in such a manner that we are ready at a moment's notice should the Lord require us.

Then again, you may sense that the Lord is calling you to fast and pray but the timing is left up to you as to when to begin. Suppose, for instance, that the Lord lays upon my heart that I should make preparations to fast and pray. As I respond to this leading I will want to seek direction from the Lord as to what kind of fast to observe and the duration of it. The longer and more intense the kind of fast we are led to observe, the more we should prepare. I will want to arrange my schedule accordingly so as to allow for extra time in prayer. I will also want to begin eating less in anticipation of the fast. This will make the transition easier. To gorge oneself the day before the fast defeats the purpose. I will also want to make my wife aware of my plans so she can schedule things accordingly. Otherwise, it is a secret between myself and the Lord. So these are some of the things to be considered.

In addition, if you are pregnant, or have a medical condition such as diabetes or an eating disorder, it would be wise to consult your doctor before undertaking any kind of change in diet. It would be appropriate to tell your doctor that you want to fast for religious purposes and ask for his or her advice before commencing.

The body adjusts to fasting by degrees. For that reason, it is foolish to begin with a forty day fast if you have never even fasted longer than one day. It is better to begin slowly. As you are faithful with a few small fasts, larger fasts will come. Since our praying and fasting is to be done in secret, there is nothing to be gained by attempting a long fast for which we are spiritually and physically unprepared.

There should be some clear indication or reason why you are fasting. We are not commanded to observe certain days or months in which we are to fast. So the only valid reason to initiate a fast is when one senses the leading of the Lord to do so in response to one of the four situations listed previously. There are medicinal benefits of fasting, but I would say if you are fasting for medicinal benefits or for weight-loss then you are not fasting unto the Lord. We are out to benefit His Kingdom, not ourselves. Thus, we should know the purpose of our fast before we begin so that our prayers and intercessions will be centered around that purpose. We are not trying to put the Lord into a box, but we do stress that a definite aim and a particular outcome should be expected. We cannot fast until the whole world is saved: this is neither definite, nor is it reasonable. We cannot even fast until a particular person is saved, let alone a nation, because we cannot control other people with our prayers. Fasting will not change God, and it will not change others, but it will change US. So, we may fast for specific answers to prayer, such as revelation, direction, forgiveness of sins, etc. We need specificity in order to gauge the effectiveness of our efforts. Once we have the answer we seek, our fasting has served its purpose.


There are huge blocks of time that become available to those who fast. We are able to redeem several minutes, sometimes hours a day, when we do not eat. In the first place, much time is spent thinking about food, shopping for food, preparing meals, eating them, and cleaning up afterwards. If we fast from three meals we can usually invest two or three hours of extra time into prayer, or study of the Word. This time is most valuable when fasting, and should not be squandered.

In addition, the body does not require as much sleep when fasting as it does when eating. After a couple of days the digestive system begins to rest, and with less bodily function there is less need for sleep. We may find five hours of sleep will do just as well for us when fasting as seven hours will do when eating. Insomnia is common while one is fasting, and for this we should be thankful, because it allows us even more time for prayer and seeking God's face.

There are some physical side effects which will present themselves early on. These vary according to the kind of fast being observed. People with jobs to attend and families to care for should consider a partial fast, drinking fruit and vegetable juices but abstaining from food. This not only provides the body with the vitamins that it needs for you to continue your activities, but it reduces the dizziness and weakness some people feel when drinking only water.

Regardless of the kind of fast you observe, it is normal to feel hungry, to experience some dizziness and lack of energy, and to have a headache. These symptoms are temporary and will become less pronounced after the first day. Just remember to move slowly when sitting or rising. Eventually all feelings of hunger leave, and one feels that they could go without food forever! This is due in part to the stored-up toxins that are being released through the body, and eventually you will feel much better. Fasting is a natural purgative for body as well as soul.

You will also notice a reduced libido during your time of fasting. This is to be expected, as food is closely related to sex drive. This is why Paul stressed the importance of one spouse fasting with the consent and cooperation of the other. Those who are unequally yoked need to be especially led of the Lord in these matters.

Spiritually speaking there are side effects as well. There is a greater awareness of spiritual things, and we might add, things we may become aware of while fasting are not always from the Holy Spirit. One should not fear these things, but as usual, should test all things, and hold fast to what is true. Do not assume that every voice, impression, dream, or vision experienced while fasting is necessarily from God. To do so is to invite serious error. We should wait on the Lord, and as always, not live according to our feelings.

While fasting it is important to be discreet and properly motivated. The Bible has a lot to say about people who fasted for the wrong reasons, and God said He would pay no attention to their fasting (Isaiah 58; Jeremiah 14:12). We do not want to fast in vain, or in order to be seen or approved of man. We do not want to call attention to ourselves. The story is told of a monk who sat down at the dinner table with several others but refused the food when it was served, announcing that he would only have water and a little salt, for he was fasting. The abbot said, "It would have been better for you to go ahead and feast with us than to let this thing be known in the presence of so many."

People will naturally invite you to eat because this is polite. If you are fasting, you can easily say, "No thank you, I'm on a special diet today!" Most people will not want to tempt you to break a diet, and will instinctively stop offering you food. If they want to know what kind of diet it is, tell them it is a liquid diet. Or, you can simply say that you have already eaten; and if you have been feeding on the Word of the Lord during your fast, then this statement is entirely consistent with what Jesus told His disciples: "I have meat to eat that you know not of... My meat is to do His Will (John 4:32-34)."


When the fast is concluded we need to take the same approach as when we began. We should slowly increase our food intake back to its usual amount - or less, if at all possible. The stomach capacity will be diminished, meaning it will not take as much food to fill us. We should take advantage of this and avoid stuffing ourselves. The next time we fast it will require less physical preparation.

Again, the way we break the fast is determined by the kind of fast we observed and the duration of it. One can resume eating normally after a one or two day fast without complication. For longer fasts, it is better to eat soup the first day, then a little fruit and vegetables the next day, and then some more solid food the third day. Do what seems right, but avoid sitting down to a feast as soon as the fast is complete. It will have a negative impact upon you physically as well as spiritually.

We often take our daily bread for granted. Fasting restores a healthy respect and reverence for God's provision. The first meal after a fast is sacred, and you may want to break the fast by taking communion. We should certainly give thanks to God as we resume eating with a greater appreciation for the food on our plate.


We especially want to give this teaching to the Body of Christ because the Lord's Need is so great for those will seek His face with prayer and fasting. There is much more that could be said, but our goal is provide our brothers and sisters with a practical foundation from which they may begin this holy and necessary work. If during the course of your seeking the Lord you have additional questions or need some practical help in this area, please let us know.

May the Lord strengthen His people as we seek His Will and His Kingdom during these perilous times.

- written by Chip Brogden - Watchman
Four Fasting Weapons

Four Fasting Weapons

Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them.

Joshua 1: 6

There are pitfalls carefully set by the Enemy to sabotage any who have the audacity to attempt a fast. On top of his attacks, your mind can be your worst enemy. A battleground where thoughts are being waged against one another.

Before you can begin to experience the new life you need to grow a renewed mind. Thinking that is controlled by faith, a memory that is filled with the Word, being able to quote scripture at need, and an imagination inspired by the sure promises of God. A mind that is fit to house the Holy Spirit, freed from stinking thinking from your stinking past. Christ crucified that destructive rubbish on the cross.

Yes, but you don’t know my past! No, but you know the Word, and have made a quality decision to believe in His Word with every breath you take. The Word has power to change the mind, besides, who wants all that fear, doubt and guilt anyway? It’s useless trash, useless to you and useless to God. I hate to say it, but I know godless men who are getting more accomplished than many hide in their church Christians. We have been empowered by the Most High God! It’s time we get aggressive with our thinking. The cross was an aggressive act.

There are two types of people in this world, those who see giants and those who see the land flowing with milk and honey. Yes, there are giants inside which will rise up against a fast. Be strong! God is on your side. Fast with His promises, and inherit the land. We are going to give you some nuggets of truth while you’re fasting. Put them in your sling of faith, and take your stand against your enemy. The battle is yours for the taking!

Stone 1

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

2 Corinthians 5: 21

You are the righteousness of God.

When the giant of guilt starts spewing out all your failures, past, and judgmental words of your friends, place this little stone in your sling of faith, take aim, and fire! I’m the righteousness of God.

It will create chaos in the spiritual realms and an ugly old giant will be laying dead at your feet. You are the righteousness of God, is a proclamation from heaven, it’s how God sees you. Every thought about yourself that contradicts that truth is a lie.

When you start to believe that you are His righteousness, you will begin to see evidence of it in your living. Don’t try to act as if you are righteous. The only act of obedience that you are called to perform, under the new covenant, is to believe. The righteous live by faith. Besides, getting this truth down into your soul, will keep you busy enough.

The amazing thing is that when you begin to believe that you are God’s righteousness, you won’t want to sin. You won’t need to sin because you will find His righteousness fully satisfying.

Stone 2

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

Romans 8: 1-2

This is more like a rock than a stone so let’s break it up into bite-sized pieces so that we can force-feed our next giant.

First, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, sent in the flesh, died on the cross, bearing your sin, rose from the dead and is seated at the right hand of God, interceding for His church? Have you prayed and asked for forgiveness of your sins and invited Jesus to come into your life? If you answered yes to these questions then you are in Christ, and you are free from fear forever.

The God of the Universe thinks you’re perfect, and is pleased with you. In fact, He is so deeply in love with you that He is now in the process of building a home in heaven so that you can always be close to Him. You have become an object of His grace, never being able to out-sin the Father’s love. You might as well just believe it, you’ll be far happier.

But the giant of fear will say, be careful not to get too cozy with God’s grace, you might use it as a license to sin.

Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. Put this little stone in your sling of faith, aim and fire!

Those who are born of the Spirit are earnestly trying to get the sin out of their life, not looking for a license to sin. Confidence in who you are in Christ will always result in holy living. Fear and guilt always lead to rebellion--the church needs to learn this and stop using these two demons to control their people!

Jesus set the captives free, we preach a gospel of freedom not condemnation. You are free from the law of sin. Law + sin + guilt + sacrifice = forgiveness; this Old Covenant system has been nailed to the cross because you are no longer a sinner. When you sin you are acting out of character. And all sin comes from unbelief. Fix your faith on the wonder of the cross. Take Communion while fasting, to remind you of the New Covenant God has made with you. Once and for all put religion to death and learn to do everything by faith and you will begin to experience a Promised Land of freedom, joy and peace all the day long.

Stone 3

. . .do not worry about tomorrow.

Matthew 6: 34

I remember visiting friends who were living right beside railway tracks. When a train came in the midst of eating supper, I thought the world was coming to an end. The entire house shook. As I looked up from the meal to see if my friends were sharing my discomfort, I was greeted with the strangest sight. While the house threatened to shake to the ground, they ate peacefully, oblivious to the chaos around. Even their child, eating in the high chair showed no signs of fear. They seemed amused at my great concern and said something that I would never forget. You get used to it.

Most of us are plagued with worry. It easily becomes the background of our thinking. Worry is an incredibly, powerful giant, but like my friends, you get used to it, desensitized to its wicked pressure.

Worry is a twisted form of hope. Hope projects the sovereign faithfulness of God into the tomorrows of concern. Worry projects a godless future where we become helpless victims of a foreboding tomorrow.

Be still, and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10). Take the stone of stillness, place it in your sling of faith, aim and fire!

Worry and stillness do not live well together. One will destroy the other. But I have so much on my mind. You don’t understand the responsibilities I have before me. I need to clear my schedule. Then I can begin to practice fasting and stillness. That kind of thinking is an illusion. You will always be busy and stillness was made by God to be exercised in the midst of incredible responsibility. The command to be still and know that I am God, is meant to be obeyed immediately, this moment, today.

I want you to put this book down and try something. Close your eyes and focus your mind on this single truth, He is God. Every time a thought comes to try to distract you don’t push it away, embrace it in the truth, He is God.

I’ve got to do six loads of laundry by tomorrow night. He is the God of my laundry.

I’ve got an exam, I need to study. He is the God of my exam.

I’m angry at my husband for being so insensitive last night. He is the God of my marriage.

Every worry or care that crosses your mind you place within the absolute Sovereignty of God. He is in complete control of every nuance, breath and situation in your life. Your life is His life, because to live is Christ (Php 1:21).

Stop trying to be God. Be still and let God be God. He is better at it than you are. It comes naturally to Him because it’s His nature. He can handle the stress of holding the universe together, you can’t. Your body wasn’t built for the stress of sovereignty. People are dying of stress.

Kill the giant of worry with stillness. A stillness that shouts, He is God! Watch him writhe in the death throws of utter silence. Starve worry with a soul that has been quieted before the awesome Sovereign control of a loving God.

Stone 4

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with

Romans 6: 6,7

Self is the biggest giant of all, and he doesn’t like to go hungry. During a fast, Self will raise his ugly head, and he won’t be happy. He is going to try to demand all your attention, bawling and whining about how much he’s suffering. The world is against me. I’m always being hurt, they’re so insensitive to my needs. People just don’t understand me. They don’t know what I’ve been through. In this death-trap of self-focused thoughts, the presence of God will dim.

Take the stone of servant hood; place it in your sling of faith, aim and fire! Deny your-self. Lay all your needs and pain at the feet of Jesus, then turn your back and walk away, not giving them a second thought. But how can I do that! My mind is always filled with my problems. This world is lost and needy. We invest so much of our time in useless selfish pleasure. Imagine if you were to spend as much time reaching out to others as you do watching the garbage on TV. Some of the most emotionally healthy people I have ever met are those who are vigorously involved with people.

Most of our problems stem from living such incredibly self-centered lives. The giant of Self has done very well on a diet of North American Materialism.

Self loves to be god with everything under control. The latest toys at the fingertips. Meanwhile, grubby hands search for a piece of crust. A lonely abused boy needs a friend. Strange, dangerous people that you can see when you drive in your warm car. If you look closely you might catch a glimpse of Jesus. But when self is center, there is nothing that will pull the heart to action. All you see are your own interests. The lost sheep become meaningless faces in a dreary landscape.

Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others (Phi 2:4). During your fast, see those around you through the eyes of Christ. Feel His compassion for them. Seek His heart, His interests, His goals. Deny your needs and you will experience the child-like freedom of God.

- by Ron Lagerquist
Dear Coconut,

Thank you so much for this excellent post!

The Lord continues to let me know that I am on the right path.

One big hug to you, with a tear or two (because having God confirm to you/me, in different ways and through different people, that you/I are on the right track is so personal and special.)

Love in Christ,
Thanks for posting this Coconut.

"If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread" Matt4:3

"Take the stone of stillness, place it in your sling of faith, aim and fire! "

I just love this, it is from 'Fasting in Freedom', by Ron Lagerquist and Tom Mcgregor, it is a great, helpful book, for anyone who fasts. And their website you posted is one of my favourites.

:love: Calluna
Wonderful post, Coconut--complete and informative. Many different reasons to fast and many different methods. Thank you for this.
Completely Covered!

Amen sister, all the ground has
been covered concerning the vital
subject of 'fasting'! Great Post! :thumbs_up

Fasting for me is hard at times
because of my condition of hypo-
glocemia. I have to be 'real'
sensitive the Holy Spirit's leading
on the 'duration' of my fasts.

Also, your spirit becomes 'hightened'
to the 'spiritual' world so anything
you might receive, as a dream, vision,
wonder or sign 'always' has to be
proven and in harmony with God's Word!

1Thess. 5:21: Prove all things; hold fast
that which is good.

Ive 'never' done a 'complete' food and
water fast like people in the bible
especially the Lord Jesus! I always
have fasted drinking water and
sometimes natural fruit juices.

God Bless,

Amen and glory to God!

"Seek His heart, His interests, His goals. Deny your needs and you will experience the child-like freedom of God."

God bless you all!
I have fasted twice in my life. The first time was right after I was born again and my fast and prayers were answered in astounding abundance.

The second time was after 18 years in bondage to certain false doctrines, that fast and prayers also being astoundingly answered quickly.

I only fasted from when I woke up in the morning (which means since the night before) from solid food, not water or coffee.

I believe the annointing ourself with oil and such means to not appear to be under the stress of a fast. Clears up the focus I believe for getting alone with our Father.

Just my two cents worth.
A call to Fast!!

I realize in this day and age seldom do we find people on their face before God. lately I have been feeling an urge to fast and pray. I understand that some strongholds that we encounter can only be removed with fasting and prayer. :star:

Brothers and Sisters we must get back to the basics of christianity, my thing is this; if Jesus did it so should we. I believe His life is our greatest manual.
Jesus spend many times on his face before God and I believe in that place we develop intimacy with God. It's there God breaks us and molds us.
I enjoy fasting, actually I've dedicated my life to fasting and prayer. Dont delay the experience, food will always be there! Eating is a common thing.

I encourage you to first ask God to lead you into fasting dont do it on your own, you wont make it. You'll end up cheating on your fast. Then you will feel worthless. when God leads you then you will feel alive and fresh no matter how long He leads you. I did He led me into three months. I am still alive and I will tell you great things happen in my personal walk with God and in the areas where I fasted.

So be strong in the Lord and dont stop seeking God's face. I know You will find Him. he said You would.

I was thinking about this the other day, wondering if Christian's fast or not, as I hadn't seen any believers around me, fasting. Its interesting though. Now do you do this on your own or with other believers? Do you eat nothing during this period of fasting or are you on a semi dietry food intake.

I found this about fasting:


What is fasting and how is it used as a spiritual discipline? It's in the Bible, II Chronicles 20:3, TLB. "Jehoshaphat was badly shaken by this news and determined to beg for help from the Lord; so he announced that all the people of Judah should go without food for a time, in penitence and intercession before God."

Fasting is a way of demonstrating our intense need for God's help. It's in the Bible, Ezra 8:21, TLB. "Then I declared a fast while we were at the Ahava River so that we would humble ourselves before our God; and we prayed that He would give us a good journey and protect us, our children, and our goods as we traveled."

Fasting should not be done to impress other people. It's in the Bible, Matthew 6:17-18, TLB. "But when you fast, put on festive clothing, so that no one will suspect you are hungry, except your Father who knows every secret. And He will reward you."

Fasting can involve a simple diet. It's in the Bible, Daniel 10:2,3, NRSV. "At that time I, Daniel, had been mourning for three weeks. I had eaten no rich food, no meat or wine had entered my mouth and I had not anointed myself at all, for the full three weeks."
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I believe in the biblical principle of fasting and I love to encourage others to practice it and I personally do not know any other fasters other than the ones I have met on line. I believe it should be part of a Christian's life just as Worship and prayer is, I have heard fasting as being referred to as part of a 'three-legged' stool, If one leg is missing then there is an inbalance. And usually the 'fasting leg' is the one missing.

If anyone is wanting a closer walk with God, then there is nothing more intimate, than humbling ourselves and denying our fleshly desires and seeking Christ's face through fasting.

Math 6:18 "When you fast..." when you fast, not 'if' you fast. It is a wonderful gift given to us. And God is encouraging us to fast, I don't see it as a command as such, but through the examples of those who fasted in the bible God is telling us ...hey when you do this, you are going to see Me and get to know Me so much more and are going to be greatly blessed.

I have fasted for different reasons and for various lengths of time, the longest being 30 days.
:lightbulb ( It is important to read up on the subject before embarking on fasts especially long ones) I primarily fast drinking only fresh juices and water, but we can abstain from anything we choose, its a personal choice and its between ourselves and the Lord. As long as it is a sacrifice and it takes us out of our comfortable lifestyle, and it brings us to our knees and seek Jesus.

During fasting I never tell anyone that I am fasting, but my husband usually knows when I am. I just carry on with life as normal. Not only scripture says not to announce it and make a big deal out of it, but for me personally, it really is a private thing between myself and the Lord and I just don't need any comments or distractions made by people. I have not been part of a group fast, but am willing to participate if the occasion arises.

I have given testimony of my last fasting experience after completing the fast only to glorify the Lord and share what He had done in my life. I experienced significant healing from rheumatoid arthritis and currently still am off any medication. During the fast my mind also became clearer and certain questions were clarified and answered. I give all Praise and Glory to the Lord, there is no way I could achieve this without the Help of the Lord. Its an amazing experience, such peace I have in my heart during these times, I can not describe, many beautful things happen, there are of course challenging times aswell, but the victory is worth waiting for and all Glory and Honor to God.:love:

As you may note, I feel so passionately about this and just want to encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ. If you do not know about the wonderful gift of fasting, or maybe even hesitant or fearful of trying, I encourage you just to pray and seek the Lord and give it a try. I promise you, you will be truly amazed and the Lord will bless you in a mighty way.

There are some good books out there on fasting, one in particular I would recommend is "fasting for a spiritual breakthrough" by Elmer L. Towns.

:shade: Calluna
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Hey Coconut

Thanx alot for this message about fasting. I have not been fasting so oftenly, but now I got new motivation.
I really want to experience the child like freedom of God, i want to be closer to God. I am gonna plan and start fasting this time round.

"For with God all things are possible"

Hey coconut,

thanks for posting such a brilliant post. I agree that christians do not fast and it's amazing that the zeal for prayer has also dropped.

I personally will be fasting this week. I don't know for how long. The HOly Spirit usually guides me in this. Have been on a group fast but have found it does not work as well as a personal one.
wow thank you sister really, it is wonderful ,i will print this out if you dont mind a wonderful resource to have,

Thank you again for such a well laid out detailed post
God Bless and Much Love :girl_hug:
Some other thoughts

Before you make the decision to deny your body food, it might be good to consider why God gave us food in the first place.

Scripture teaches us that God gave mankind food first and foremost as a source of sustenance. Gen 1:30 and 9:3 spell out that we were given both plant and animal sources of food and modern science confirms that there are some required nutrients (bioflavanoids and the like) which may only be obtained from plants, and some (vitamin b-12, certain amino acid chains, CLA) which may only be obtained from animals.

Gen 18:1-8 and Deut 12:6-7, 18 show that God intended food to be a thing around which His children would gather for fellowship. Even in cultures and societies which have moved far away from God, the residual cutom of fellowship being associated with food remains, and food continues to be one of the greatest ways Christians are able to reach out to the unsaved. 1 Cor 10 teaches us to be mindful of the purpose and intentions behind a meal's preparation, and that there may be times that it's better to avoid a certain meal or drink (and I'm sure we can all think of such a circumstance). In Revelations 3:20, Christ's fellowship with His people is described as a meal. Revelations 19:9 tells us that we are all invited to a holy banquet. God created food as one means to bring us all closer together and closer to Him.

In keeping with the fellowship, we are also told in Ecclesiastes 2:24-25; 5:18 that we are allowed to enjoy our food. That may sound silly, but given the legalistic misguided branches of Christianity out there that teach that anything that makes you feel "good" is "bad" - it's no surprise God felt the need to officially let us know that liking food was "ok" (barring outright gluttony or abuse of food, of course).

Lastly, we are taught that food was given to us as a form of worship. Every lay sacrifice allowed in the Old Testiment was a type of food or drink offering. We are not simply to separate out the Lord's Supper as a weekly ritual where we see suddenly food as a sacred thing. Paul writes that every bit of food "should be received with thanksgiving" (1 Timothy 4:3). From the first bite of our meals (Acts 27:35) to the satisfaction we feel at the meal's end (Deut 8:10), our attitude should be one of Godward gratitude. Our Lord also specifically taught us to remember Him, and focus on what He did for us, not once a week during a specific ritual (though there's no harm in adding that practice), but whenever we eat and drink.

So again I suggest, especially in this fast paced world where half of us skip meals just because we are busy, or we eat without being mindful of what we're eating (let alone being mindful of Christ's sacrifice), before you fast - spend some time thinking about why God gave us food in the first place.
Ok...even more thoughts

Let's talk a little bit about what fasting is NOT :)

First of all - fasting is NOT purely a physical or phychological exercise. People fasted for the Lord - not to affect their bodies (dieting) or minds (pagan religions teach fasting as a way to enter trance). I'm not saying that dieting is wrong or that fasting won't possibly give you better mental focus, I'm just saying that your sole purpose in spiritual fasting should be to draw closer to the Lord - if it has the added benefit of improving your body and mind so be it - but that's God's call - not yours.

Fasting is NOT a method of cleansing your sins, nor does Christ ever teach us to engage in fasting as a form of penance. Christians do not sacrifice to pay for our sins. Christ is our perfect sacrifice.

To say that you "need to fast" in order to "pay" for some misdeed is to declare the heresy that His blood wasn't enough. Further, to engage in an act of fasting as a form of penance is to put yourself into a state of condemnation ("I was bad so I'll do this now to make up for it") and turns fasting which should be Godly into a mental exercise about as "biblical" as beating yourself with whips (and in case you weren't sure that's not Scripturally sound either). Despite what many a misguided denomination teaches, your penance is not required. Christ paid all our debts in full.

You can find OLD Testiment situations of people fasting as a form of penance - but those people did not yet have Jesus. Be very aware that feeling as if you need to inflict *any* "punishment" upon yourself for your sin is Scripturally unsound. You are required to repent of your sin. Repenting means to "turn away" from the sin - that's all. Quit the sin and move on, but do not let demons of condemnation whisper that you should in any way punish or "damage" the Temple of the Lord which is your body and mind.

Fasting is NOT a form of manipulation. Acts 23:12,14 teaches us that your motivations for fasting must be pure and Godly. If they are not, fasting won't "add weight" to your prayers. Jeremiah 14:12 is another verse that reminds us that we cannot "sway" the Lord by fasting. By contrast, even the pagans of Nineveh were able to evoke mercy from the Lord for their *honest* fasting and repentence.

Fasting is NOT to be used as a way to "show off." By the time Jesus came to Earth, the Pharisees had turned a godly offering into very huge, very hypocritical public spectacle. To correct this rediculous behavior, our Lord taught that we should fast privately, giving no outward sign of our commitment to the Lord. This runs in very sharp contrast to the various churches that have whole calendars drawn up all around this or that fast day. I've even heard of churches with "fasting support groups" to get people through long unscriptural periods of "required" fasting.


Ok then...what *is* biblical fasting? Coconut was amazing with her original post, and here are some additional bits.

To look at the Greek, fasting is "nesteia" which is ne (not) and steia (eating). So in simple obvious terms, fasting is not eating.

In the KJV (and therefore many versions after that), the Hebrew for fasting is often translated as "afflicting one's soul." So this is not simply a denial of the body, but a deep and powerful thing which should affect one to the core.

Fasting in the Bible is always accompanied with prayer. You can pray without fasting, but there is no case in all of scripture of fasting without prayer. This makes it very clear that fasting is a practice that somehow galvanizes the act of prayer. If you vow to engage in 40 days of fasting, you are vowing to engage in 40 days of intense prayer. You cannot separate the two. The practice of fasting as a mindless skipping of meals while going about your daily life is scripturally unsound.


The Lord gave us only one very specific "this is how all of you should do it" example of commanded fasting. That fast is presented in Leviticus for the Day of Atonement. In it, we learn that the measurement of a day-long fast is from sunset to sunset. This means you are asleep for a good part of the time you are fasting. That may sound like it's somehow "easier" than starting a fast in the morning, but try it and you'll see why God arranged it that way. Also, it should be noted that you were not "going to bed hungry."

The indications would seem to be that people had a normal supper before the sunset starting the fast. Imagine it in ancient days...the sun goes down and the desert becomes dark...there are the sounds of preditors in the night...the wind begins to cool the earth as you take your *last* swallow of sustenance. As your hearth fire goes dim for the night, you think about how you won't be cooking upon it tomorrow. You enter that darkness without the very basic needs of life - food and drink - and crawl into the vulnerability of sleep - to awaken...keenly aware that the sun has risen and life continues ... but *you* cannot take part in the "good things of the earth" until your commitment to the Lord is complete.

Imagine the breakfast you don't have, the fellowship of lunch that you miss...the pangs of hunger throughout the day...the early supper you are forced to skip. And all that time, as your body reminds you of your need, you are praying - for fasting and prayer are to be one united act.

How much colder does that second sunset seem at first...and how very aware and grateful to the Lord are you when the last glimmer of light is lost on the horizon, but *you* are released from your vows and able to feed body and spirit in fellowship and God-given food and drink that sustains you even in that ancient darkness?


Fasting is an expression of wholeheartedness. This is clear from Joel's call to the nation of Israel: "Yet even now," says the Lord, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting. . ." (Joel 2:12)

God said, "When you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you" (Jeremiah 29:13,14). When a man or woman is willing to set aside the legitimate appetites of the body to concentrate on the work of praying, they are demonstrating that they mean business, that they are seeking God with all their heart.

Fasting is assumed to occur for Christians. When Jesus spoke about fasting, he didn't say "if" you fast, but "when you fast" (Matthew 6:16). The only time Christians were not to fast was when Christ walked with them upon the Earth (Matthew 9:14-15).

The occasion and length for a Christian fast is voluntary (or comes by direct instruction from the Holy Spirit). There is no time in Christ's ministry where He instructed anyone to institute a repeated fast on any specific date, for any specific time. The practice of fasting before taking communion is unscriptural (I'll leave the argument about communion itself being over-ritualized for another post). I will say, there is no specific indication that those first "Lord's Suppers" were anything more than the "normal" (as in normal meal for the time of day) fellowship meals shared by those who came together to worship the Lord in the early church at that time.

Also, setting up a "fasting schedule" of "every wednesday and friday" is no more sound than the Pharisees deciding to do it every tuesday and thursday. There is no scriptural basis for any of the "scheduled" fasts traditionally kept by denominational churches.

Even for the Jews: Only one day for fasting was commanded in Scripture -- on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16). The fast on the Day of Atonement was connected with a deep mournful spirit in confessing sin. Now Christians no longer need to do this specific fast (or any of the various animal sacrifices that also happened that day) because Jesus Christ has become our Perfect and complete atonement offering.

There are seven occasions for fasting given in scripture:
1 - Mourning someone's death - Samuel 31:13; 1 Chronicles 10:12; 2 Samuel 1:12; and 2 Samuel 3:35
2 - Penance and confession - Deuteronomy 9:18; 1 Samuel 7:6; 1 Kings 21:27; Ezra 10:6; Jonah 3:5; and Acts 9:3-9 (cancelled by Christ's sacrifice).
3 - A situation of impending danger - Ezra 8:21,23,31 and in Jeremiah 36:9 and Esther 4:3
4 - Direction: To find God's will - 2 Chronicles 20:1-30, Acts 13:2
5 - Sickness - 2 Samuel 12:15-23; Psalm 35:13, Psalm 35:13
6 - The ordination of missionaries or church leaders - Acts 13:3, Acts 14:23
7 - Revelation from God - Daniel 9:9,18; Exodus 34:28; Deuteronomy 9:9,18; and Daniel 10:1-3 (also possibly part of Paul's fasting as he moved from blind to well after Demascus).

To avoid the pitfall of fasting as "penance," in #2, a Christian who is moved to fast after sinning should do so only from the mindset of fasting specifically to be closer to and obtain direction from God as mentioned in #4. It's good to be repentant and mournful of your sinful acts, and to fast to express that mourning may be allowed, but be certain you are not "punishing yourself" for you were bought at *great* price by the punishment our Lord received on the Cross.

One of the most important things to remember is that declaring that you are going to fast is a special commitment you are making to spend very intimate and dedicated time with the Lord. It should be all about you and God getting closer.

This isn't something you should just up and decide to do lightly, and it certainly isn't something you should fail to do casually. It should never ever devolve into a mindless habit either. Remember that the act which cannot be separated from fasting is prayer. Therefore fasting could be described as prayer in motion - a physical act to unite body and mind in communion and sincere deep seeking of the Lord our God.
Wow Janette ...I didnt know this thread was missing something until you came along lol...

I didnt write the OP, and I could`nt have written this...but very thorough, thank you!
It's so meaningful after complete reading your post. i realise that i am on the right track. last time my congregation usually comdemn me when i fast, but that didn't stop me from fasting, although theit words kind of hurt me. but after reading your psot, all the hurtful feelings from my heart suddenly disappear.. thnx once again...