Fasting is a practice that has been in effect since the beginning of the Christian faith. Fasting is expressed early on in scriptures and continues throughout the entire Bible. This reality draws the conclusion that fasting is significant and that it should be continued even now. Fasting is something that all believers would benefit from, therefore, it should be implemented in each believer’s life.
What is a Christian fasting time? Christian fasting can occur at any time during one’s journey in the faith. Fasting times can be decided based on personal preference and ability. For example, fasting can occur once a year, monthly, weekly or daily. Fasting time depends on what someone is fasting from and what their schedule is like. Fasting times should be chosen when there is sufficient time available to focus solely on God without distraction or an overload of responsibility.
In this blog, I will be uncovering further the details of fasting, specifically the time, duration, and occasion of fasting based on the different types of fasting.
What Time to Fast
A time set apart for fasting is completely personal and circumstantial. Fasting can take place at any time in the day or over the course of however many days one chooses. An individual may choose to fast in a pattern. For example, he or she may choose to fast every Monday. Furthermore, others choose to fast once a month on the same day of each month. Others still will skip a meal each day. When choosing when to fast, it is important to choose a time that you can genuinely set aside to focus on the Lord.
Fasting isn’t merely abstaining from food, drink or other things. Fasting is a time and stance that is set apart for the Lord. Fasting takes our eyes off of the world and focuses them upon God. Moreover, fasting is not about punishing our flesh, but centering us around God. Many people fast when they have important decisions to make in order to gain a heavenly mindset, instead of the rash and impulsive decisions of the flesh.
When choosing what time to fast, base it around your schedule. It isn’t as beneficial to fast when you don’t have time to give to God. A fast in and of itself isn’t as productive because fasting always accompanies prayer and communion with God. Therefore, choose a time that works best for you when you don’t have as many distractions or obligations.
Additionally, it is helpful to be consistent with fasting. Fasting shouldn’t only occur when you are asking God for something. Fasting is not a way to manipulate God to receive something we want. Rather, it is a way to align our views with His. In addition, fasting is not a work or way to earn salvation or any benefit from God. Fasting should be done out of a pure and genuine heart. The time that you fast should be formulated around these values.
How Long to Fast
The length of a fast is also dependent on personal preference and ability. For some, fasting for long periods of time is not possible due to health conditions. For others, fasting can occur for many days. Remember, the point of fasting is to connect with God. It is not about how many days one can fast or to what extreme. Fasting is completely intimate with the Lord. Therefore, there is no need to compare yourself to how long others are fasting.
I recommend that you even pray and ask the Lord how long you should fast before you begin. If you are new to fasting, I suggest starting off by fasting one meal or one day. Once you become more aware and familiar with the concept, you can continue for longer periods of time. You may realize after the first day that you desire to continue for longer. If this is the case, keep track of how your body feels. If your body is not used to fasting, you may feel lightheaded and weak. Once your body becomes used to fasting you will be able to fast for longer without these feelings.
The length of the fast also depends on what you are fasting. If you are fasting both food and water, you shouldn’t fast for more than two or three days. Furthermore, if you are abstaining merely from food, you can fast for longer. Some people will fast from food and water but will drink juice to maintain energy.
Types of Fasting
Another style of fasting is abstaining from social media, entertainment, sex, sugary foods, or a variety of other things. Choosing to fast from the following things will allow you to fast for much longer periods of time. This is because these fasts do not affect your health. In fact, they may improve your overall health. I recommend fasting from these things for longer periods of time.
If you are married, be sure to come to the conclusion with your spouse when it comes to abstaining from sex. As the apostle, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:5, “Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control”.
Aside from the following exception, fasting from social media, entertainment, sugary foods etc, can and should be done over a longer course of time. This is partly because many habits are formed from entertainment and food indulgences. Breaking these habits and reliances can build stronger reliance upon God. For many people, entertainment, such as phones, television, the internet, magazines, and other media, take more attention and time than is devoted to God.
Without the distractions from these things, individuals can more easily approach the Lord. In fact, it becomes more of a habit to seek the Lord than to seek other things in free time. Taking a month off of these things can reset your life and move it in a new direction. In the same way, fasting for months or even a year form these things will build more perseverance, self-control, and focus.
When to Fast
Christians should fast for a prolonged period of time at least once in their lives. However, I recommend a yearly, quarterly, or monthly fast. This is something for you to pray about specifically with the Lord to discover what this looks like for your life. Since life is busy and it is filled with distraction and evil, it is important that we recenter ourselves around Christ continually. This should be a daily act of renewing the mind through prayer, scripture, Biblical teaching, and accountability from a community of believers.
Moreover, when recentering your life, this process benefits greatly from a fast. There is no law or requirement that Christians fast, however, fasting has been a normal part of believers’ lives since the Old Testament and within the early church. Therefore, fasting should be a part of today’s believers. Fasting can occur during trying times or times of great decisions. Fasting can also be done in congruence around the time we celebrate Jesus’ death and resurrection. Many follow what is called lent. Lent is more of a tradition of the church, however, it can be of benefit to a Christian with a pure heart and motives.
Scriptures Concerning Fasting
Listed below are scriptures that expand on the concept of fasting and give examples of how early believers fasted. This is not an exhaustive list, rather it displays only a few of the substantial amount of scriptures concerning this topic. The list is in order based on books of the Bible.
We can learn from these examples to pray and fast when faced with decisions in the church and to pray and fast with humility. Additionally, we see earlier believers devoting their entire lives to prayer and fasting. We can also see the example of fasting from Jesus and Moses. (Moses and Jesus may have been called to a full 40 day fast, but before anyone else decides to undergo that, he or she should be completely certain that it is the Lord directing them since this length of a fast can be extremely detrimental to one’s health.)
|Exodus 34:28||“And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread nor drink water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.”|
|Isaiah 58:5||“Is this the fast I have chosen,|
a day for a man to deny himself,
to bow his head like a reed,
and to spread out sackcloth and ashes?
Will you call this a fast
and a day acceptable to the LORD?”
|Isaiah 58:6-7||“Is not this the fast that I have chosen:|
to break the chains of wickedness, to untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and tear off every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, to bring the poor and homeless into your home, to clothe the naked when you see him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”
|Matthew 4:1-2||“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.”|
|Matthew 6:16||“Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”|
|Luke 2:37||“Then she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer.”|
|Acts 14:23||“Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.”|