In this post, I break down Christian fasting according to the Bible. Fasting and prayer are powerful in breaking strongholds in the soul. I wrote an entire series on how to pray and fast, but I want to be specific about what steps to take and provide examples from the Bible. I am not a medical professional, so I encourage you to consult your physician before you partake in a fast. Biblical fasting has extensive spiritual, soul, and physical ramifications.
If you have yet to explore the Prayer and Fasting series I’m speaking about; I encourage you to read those writings first before starting here. Click the links below, starting with Do You Know How to Pray.
What is Fasting
Sheri Onishi defined fasting in How to do a Biblical Fast, “Biblical fasting can be defined as abstaining from food for spiritual purposes. Simply going without food because it is not available or for medical reasons is not biblical fasting. There must be a spiritual motivation to qualify a fast as biblical”.
In prior posts, I explained that many people fast for weight loss or detox. So, it’s important to note that a spiritual Bible-based fast is to seek the Lord on a matter with prayer. However, fasting for spiritual purposes is intentional and involves more than taking a break from social media or cleansing. Fasting tells God that you’re willing to give up food to get more of His spiritual food.
Do Not Waste Time Fasting in Vain
You don’t want to fast in vain as some Israelites did at times or like hypocrites. Therefore, check your motives. Repentance, Godly sorrow, and humility are essential factors.
Isiah 58:3-5 NKJV says,
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen?
Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?’
“In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure,
And exploit all your laborers.
4 Indeed you fast for strife and debate,
And to strike with the fist of wickedness.
You will not fast as you do this day,
To make your voice heard on high.
5 Is it a fast that I have chosen,
A day for a man to afflict his soul?
Some of my earlier days in fasting were challenging, and I can’t imagine afflicting my soul for the wrong reasons and utilizing my time to focus on selfish things instead of seeking God. Make sure your fasting is the kind that God approves.
Why Are You Fasting
Before partaking in a fast, it’s vital to know why you are fasting. Is the reason for your fasting pure? Is the Holy Spirit inviting you into a fast? When you approach the throne of God, come boldly but with humility. Worship the Lord in spirit and truth, so come ready to seek the face of the Lord intentionally.
Fasting is a mighty weapon in the spiritual realm, and when you partake in it, you partner with God and take a stand against the forces of wickedness and darkness. You boldly declare and plead for the Holy Spirit to have His way by strengthening and fighting through you.
Here are some reasons you might fast and pray:
- Repentance, Sorrow, and Humility
- Salvation of Others
- Sinful Condition of our Nation
- Healing and Deliverance for Self or Others
- Intimacy with God and Knowledge, Wisdom, and Understanding
- Big Decision or Life Change(marriage, what job to take, surgery, etc.) Jesus fasted 40-days and nights before going into His ministry.
- Break Depression, Anxiety, and Attacks on Sleep
- Stand against Marital and Family attacks
- Break Feelings of Same-Sex Attraction (Homosexuality)
- Heal from Brokenness and Past Wounds of Molestation and Abuse
There are tons of reasons you can fast, but this is just a shortlist of examples. Be sure to write down your reason(s) WHY and make a list of the people you will be praying for too. Replace your everyday tasks or activities with prayer, worship, reading the Word, reading Bible-based books, meditating, watching sermons, and resting in the Lord. You can still perform your work or job, but the downtime you regularly spend eating, cooking, social media surfing, or watching TV can be devoted to God.
Types of Fasts
There are different types of fasts, and you want to decide what kind you will do ahead of time. The spiritual attacks can be more intense due to your desire for spiritual strength. Always remember this—ALL power is in God’s mighty hands. ALL power belongs to Him. So humble yourself under His mighty hand and resist the devil because your victory is in Christ Jesus. You can tell a mountain to move if you put all of your faith in Him alone.
James 4:6-10 NKJV says, But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” 7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
In the book Fasting for Spiritual Break Through, Elmer L. Towns mentions nine biblical fasts. But, I will highlight only three.
1. The Disciple’s Fast (Freedom from Addiction) Matthew 17:20-21 NKJV says, So Jesus said to them, “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. 21 However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
This fast is excellent for besetting habitual sins, bondage, and strongholds. (alcohol, drugs, sexual and same-sex acts, pride, lying, etc.) You may not be able to do a complete fast for health reasons, but this stronghold warrants this kind.
2. Ezra Fast (To Solve Problems Ezra 18:21-23)
3. Samuel Fast (Win People to Christ 1 Samuel 7:1-8)
4. Elijah Fast (From Crippling Fear and Mental Problems 1 Kings 19:2-18)
5. Widow’s Fast (To Provide for the Needy 1 Kings 17:12)
6. Saint Paul Fast (Insight and Decision-Making Acts 9:9-19)
7. Daniel Fast (Health and Healing Daniel 1:12-20 highlighted below when describing a partial fast)
8. John The Baptist Fast (Influential Testimony Matthew 3:4, Luke 1:15)
9. The Esther Fast (Protection from Evil) Esther 4:16 NKJV says, “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!” This powerful fast saved the Jews’s lives.
You can fast with water or natural juices on this Esther fast for various reasons.
Things to Consider When Deciding on Fasting
Additionally, you can decide if you will fast alone, with a group, church members, with family, or your spouse. You also want to know if your fasting will be absolute, complete, or partial. Also, how many days will you fast?
Three, Seven, Ten-, Fourteen-, Twenty-one-, and Forty-day fasts are common.
- An absolute fast is when there is no food or water (mainly three days). This kind of fast is not too common these days. Our food is not as organic as the Bible times. Jesus’, Elijah’s, and Moses fasts for 40 days describe this.
- A complete fast is when you fast with only water or juices. I’ve taken on water fasting like this for 15 days but included herbal tea at night to help my body settle and sleep at night.
- A partial fast can involve eating the full day or only certain times of the day, and with pre-determined foods and juices. The Daniel Fast is the perfect example of partial fasting. He and his friends ate only fruit, veggies and drank water because they did not want to defile themselves with the king’s food. In many instances, the foods we eat here are heavily processed, are GMO, chemically laced, and stripped of nutrients.
Daniel 1:8 NKJV says, But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
A partial fast can also mean that you change your eating window but not necessarily modify your regular diet. For example, you might only fast between 6 am to 6 pm for seven days but eat your routine diet in the evening. Or you may decide on a 14-day plan where you eat a huge serving of fruit, veggies and drink water once per day at 6 pm.
There are many ways to decide on a partial fast. Just keep in mind that you want to select this in advance and plan what you will do if you start feeling sick. You might have to eat a piece of fruit or something to help you feel better in some cases. Remember, fasting is about your heart, not just about saying no to food.
Pray into Your Fast
When you start your fast, go into it with prayer. Pray over all the reasons and the people on your list. Ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen you and to have His way. Ask Him to show you the areas within your heart and soul that are not like Him.
Take Notes and Write
I highly recommend that you document your experience. Once, I was several days into my fasting before God spoke to me. Nonetheless, when He finally spoke, I knew it was His voice, and I wrote. I can’t tell you what will happen in your experience as we all are in different phases in our walk, going to the throne for different needs, and have unique purposes. However, there will always be something that you can express on paper during your time in prayer and fasting.
Write about your thoughts and feelings while going through it. It is so easy for us to move ahead in life and forget everything God has already done. Don’t be one of those people; document the goodness of the Lord so you can see how He has never left or forsaken you. Look back on far He’s bought you and from where.
Prepare Properly for Fasting
Regardless of the fast you choose make sure you prepare your spirit, soul, and body. You may not have a chance to do this in some situations, but if you can slow down on eating high amounts of bad foods, sugar, and caffeine beforehand, that will help you. Your first three days in a fast are usually the most challenging as your body is adjusting and healing from the wear and tear from daily activities, processed foods, and environmental pollutants.
Additionally, know what you will read and what verses you want to meditate on and memorize, but be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Your body is going through a lot of cleansing when you fast, so make sure to rest when you need it. The whole reason for a fast is to spend time with God for a specific purpose. You are not fasting to win the prize for refusing food; you want to make the best use of the time you spend at the throne of God.
Close Out Properly
When you are ready to close out your fast, do so with prayer and thanksgiving. Don’t just leave your experience and walk away like it’s no big deal. Acknowledge all the Lord has revealed to you and thank Him for the ability to stay the course. Even if you didn’t stick to it the way you wanted, God is looking at the heart.
Don’t leave in haste, but go in peace. Also, make sure to care for your temple properly by eating good and healthy foods afterward. You can get sick if you force the wrong things into your body after a fast.
God is concerned about your heart posture when fasting, but be sure to plan for success and spiritual warfare. Your total dependence is on God and His power, not what you can do in your own will. Starting is easy, but finishing is much more rewarding. Make sure to check out the post I wrote 5 Tips to Stay the Course During a Fast.
Never neglect humility when fasting and praying to God.
Be open to the leading and purging of the Holy Spirit.
Do not fast in vain, and remember the King of Glory is in control.
Thank you for reading. I pray that this writing has blessed you. So, what fast will you take on?