Christian fasting is a way for Christians to give up food, drink, and even entertainment in order to focus on God and worship Him. Fasting isn’t for ritual, but rather for growing in a relationship with God. We’re not required to fast a certain way or at a certain time to be saved, but the Bible encourages it so that we can grow closer to God.
When do Christians fast during the year? Though Christians can fast at any time as the Spirit leads them, the most observed fasting events during the year are Lent, Advent, and New Years, as well as the International Day of Prayer.
First, let’s learn more about fasting during lent.
Lent is a fast Christians follow in remembrance of Jesus’ 40 day fast in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). It begins on Ash Wednesday, or the Monday of the seventh week before Easter, and ends on the Friday before Palm Sunday.
Because it leads up to Easter, Lent means spring, which is according since Jesus’ resurrection for Christians means new life.
Although Sunday’s are excluded from Lent since it is the day of rest and feasting in the Bible, Lent actually extends the fast to 46 days.
During these days, most people fast from food completely on Fridays as well as give up a certain vice during the whole time. An example of this may be sweets, meat, or TV.
Ultimately, Lent is meant to remind us of how much Jesus gave up for us. He didn’t just give up those 40 days in the wilderness, but He also gave up His life.
As Christians, this is a great way to thank Jesus for what He’s done for us and prepare ourselves for the celebration of Easter.
Lent makes the festivities of Easter and new life that much sweeter because we can compare Jesus’ suffering to his victory in a very tangible way for us to process, and realize that in the end, it was all worth it.
Advent is the time that is usually recognized as a time for celebrating and feasting. This time tends to be abused for gratifying our desires instead of truly focusing on Jesus.
Some Christians feel lead to take an advent fast during the month of December or even start the fast the day after Thanksgiving.
During this fast, they may choose to give up certain foods like sweets or excessive feasting in order to honor God by choosing to spend their holiday season looking forward to the coming of Jesus rather than looking forward to their own self-gratification.
While there are many variations and extremes for advent fasting, if you choose to follow through on this event for fasting, know that Jesus will not condemn you for celebrating or enjoying this time of year.
More than anything, Jesus wants your heart and a relationship with you, so when choosing what to fast for Advent, ask Him what you should give up in order to get closer to Him and anticipate His birthday will a more joyful spirit.
Like any other fasting, New Year’s fasting is more than just a ritual and especially different from a simple New Years’ resolution.
Though a resolution may motivate you to get in shape or lose some weight, a New Years’ fast is a time to start the year off strong by drawing close to God and dedicating the year to Him.
A great way to determine what to fast for a New Years fast is to look back on the year before and figure out what was holding you back.
Fasting for the New Year can be a powerful declaration that this year is for the Lord’s glory, not your own.
The most common method for New Year’s fasting is using the Daniel Fast, which lasts for 21 days and usually starts on the first Monday of the year.
Outlined in Daniel chapter 1, the Daniel Fast or New Year’s Fast is used to pray towards a specific goal in mind, hence its New Years’ nature.
International Day of Prayer
International Day of Prayer (IDOP) is an organization that puts together prayer resources and organizes a world-wide day of prayer. This year, it was just a few days ago on November 1st, 2020.
They also have blogs and articles to read on how and what to pray for specifically in our world, as well as videos and opportunities to donate to their impacting work.
You can click here if you’d like to find out more or get involved with International Day of Prayer.
Resources For Fasting
I have listed out many helpful resources for you relating to fasting.
International House of Prayer
International House of Prayer is an organization that has been praying and worshipping God 24/7, 365 days a year since 1999.
They have multiple resources for what to pray for and how to fast, but their live streaming of their 24/7 prayer and worship is what’s most helpful for people who are fasting.
If you’re struggling in your fast or still seeking God on the purpose behind the fast, you can follow this link to seek God more intentionally through prayer and worship not only during Lent, Advent, and New Years but also at any time during the year.
A Hunger for God
If you’re looking for encouragement while you fast in any season, make sure you stop by Desiring God and download John Piper’s book “A Hunger for God”. The download is free, or you can purchase the hardback version here.
Resources for Lent:
If you’re more visual, be sure the check out this link, which has various printable activities, prayers, and games to help you and family members as well experience Lent together and learn more about the fast and how to get the most out of it.
To add to this creative list, you can follow this link to choose from 28 fun resources that will help you glorify God by focusing on Him through art, crafts, devotionals, and even films.
Resources for Advent:
While there are scarce resources for fasting during advent, I personally remember as a young girl growing up reading the “Jotham’s Journey” series with my family leading up to Christmas time.
This series goes through four children’s journeys of looking forward to Jesus’ birth and is a great way to take your mind off of material things that we’re so heavily bombarded with.
To enjoy these wonderful stories and dedicate a chapter to each day of your fast, click here.
Resources for New Years (Daniel Fast):
To start your year off right with the Daniel Fast, it’s important to plan ahead for what exactly you’ll need to start this fast. If you’ll be sticking to the traditional fast of a diet of mostly veggies, be sure to check out this link for ideas on creative and fun recipes.
Another great resource for the Daniel Fast is the Daniel Fast Journal that walks you through your heart desires with God, helps you plan your recipes, prompts for prayers and devotional time, as well as pages for reflection and tracking your growth.
You can purchase this journal here.
Christian Fasting Events are Important
Christians fast to deepen their relationship with Jesus and to learn more about how to rely on God and His strength, rather than our own.
Whether you plan to fast for Lent, Advent, New Year, or more, know that the Holy Spirit will guide you to the right resources and events for your own fast with Him. Remember, this isn’t for ritual, but rather for a deeper relationship with God.