Fasting is an important and powerful spiritual discipline, but how does one determine the length and type of fast undertaking? Christians have help from the Holy Spirit to guide us. Below is a list of suggested timetable to help those deciding to fast what will work best in their life.
What is a Christian fasting timetable? Christian timetables can help Christians decide when they should fast.
- One day
- One week
- 21 days (Daniel fast)
- 40 days (during lent)
Before diving into a fast it is a good idea to create a schedule and plan out exactly how and when you want to accomplish it. It is always a good idea to look at others’ lives and how they have fasted, some of the best examples we have are from the Bible.
We see all throughout scripture many people fasting for many reasons and in different ways. Ultimately, we want to bring glory to God by how we go about our fast and connect with him as we push away distractions.
Fasting Before A Holiday
One of the most popular times throughout the year to fast is before holidays. While there are no requirements to fast before a holiday, many people find that a fast before a special day like Christmas, Easter, or Pentecost helps them focus on the true meaning of the holiday.
Each holiday has a period of preparation before the actual holiday, this gives the perfect opportunity to fast while preparing.
Before Christmas there is the advent, advent lasts about 24-25 days depending on the year. During this time many celebrate each day as it represents some aspect of Jesus’ birth.
This can also be a good time for some to set aside a certain distraction and fast while focusing on God and the reason for the season.
Easter is a very popular holiday to fast previous to. The forty days before Easter are called lent. Lent occurs to help prepare for Easter. It also represents the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness fasting.
Fifty days after Easter the Holy Spirit descended, this day is called Pentecost. Some take the time before or after the Holy Spirit descended to fast and grow closer to God.
Times People Fasted Within the Bible
Many times throughout the Old and New Testament we see many different groups of people fast and individual fasts. These men and women fasted when they needed to hear from God.
Fasting is an outward expression of your need for God. People in Scripture would fast before going into battle
Moses fasted both food and water before receiving the ten commandments. This was not an ordinary fast but Moses was able to complete a forty-day fast through supernatural means. We as humans cannot go without food and water for forty days. Elijah similarly fasts for forty-days without food and water.
Moses was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant–the Ten Commandments.-Exodus 34:28
In the book of Judges, Israels’ army was going to war against the tribe of Benjamin. The Israel army fasted because they wanted direction from the Lord. They fasted for a whole day.
And Benjamin went against them out of Gibeah the second day, and destroyed 18,000 men of the people of Israel. All these were men who drew the sword.
Then all the Israelites, the whole army, went up to Bethel, and there they sat weeping before the LORD. They fasted that day until evening and presented burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to the LORD.
And the people of Israel inquired of the Lord (for the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days,-Judges 20:25-27
The Lord told the army is fight one more day. He promised to be with them and give the tribe of Benjamin into their hand. The army listened to what the Lord had to say and won the battle.
And the Lord defeated Benjamin before Israel, and the people of Israel destroyed 25,100 men of Benjamin that day. All these were men who drew the sword. So the people of Benjamin saw that they were defeated.-Exodus 20:35-36
Daniel fasted during a time of Jewish persecution. Daniel chapter 10 tells us he did not eat food.
At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.-Daniel 10:2-3
Many people do Daniel fasts today. The Daniel fast lasts twenty-one days and those fasting can only eat fruits, vegetables, nuts, and water. People today use Daniels fast because it helps them abstain from a lot of pleasurable foods. The purpose of this fast is to help you focus on God.
Length of Fasts
Your length of fast depends on what God is calling you to and can greatly depend on what season of life you are in right now. Some people may be able to fast faithfully over many days, while others will fast most consistently on the weekends.
This is not an indication of how spiritual you are but what God is personally calling you to do.
If you have never fasted before a good place to start would be with a shorter fast. This could be something like a day or even just missing a single meal.
Creating a lifestyle of fasting requires a lot of time and effort, but will have amazing fruits. A lifestyle of fasting does not mean fasting all the time, but setting aside a certain time each day, week, or month to fast and repeating it on a regular basis.
Different ideas of lengths are listed below:
- One meal a day
- Once to twice a week
- Once to twice a month
- A whole week
- 40 Days
We can take examples from the characters in the Bible who fasted, Jesus fasted for forty days in the wilderness, many Christians participate in a forty-day fast because of Jesus’ example.
Fasting with the Lord’s Leading
Most importantly when deciding on the length of your fast keep in mind the Lord’s calling. Fasting is not about the number of days or the kind of fast we have completed, in fact,
Jesus tells us not boast about our fasting.
But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.Matthew 6:17-18
Where our heart is while we fast is important, we fast so we can grow closer to God. If we enter our fast with the motivation and desire to connect with God then we will see the fruits.
If we as Christians do not take fasting seriously we will end up wasting the extra time we gained through giving up what distracts us and will not grow closer to G0d.
Hopefully, as you enter your own personal time of fasting you will take the time to plan out and schedule when you fast. This will help you keep your fasting commitment and grow closer to God instead of being distracted by the world around you.