The Bible doesn’t clearly state how Christian should fast, but through reading and studying it, we can take a lot from how, when, where, and why people throughout Scripture fasted.
Do you have a question on Christian fasting? Here are the top 15 questions regarding Christian fasting answered:
1. What is Christian Fasting?
Christian fasting is the act of intentionally abstaining from food or a regularly enjoyed good gift from God to focus on a period of spiritual growth or deepening our relationship with God. In the act of fasting, we humbly deny the flesh to focus on and glorify God, become more in tune with His Spirit, and go deeper in our prayer life.
Fasting is much more than simply cutting something out for a period of time; it’s a sacrifice of servant living for God and for others. It’s to stretch us to enrich our dependence on the Lord by being in a weak state before Him.
Read more on what Christian fasting is here: https://justdisciple.com/christian-fasting-definition-biblical-examples-how-to/
2. What is the Purpose of Fasting?
John Piper writes in his book Hunger for God “Christian fasting, at its root, is the hunger of a homesickness for God. Christian fasting is not only the spontaneous effect of superior satisfaction in God, it is also a chosen weapon against every force in the world that would take that satisfaction away.”
There are many different purposes behind fasting. Throughout Scripture, we see that David fasted for the healing of his sick child, Nineveh fasts in an act of repentance, Nehemiah fasted in grief, and the Israelites fasted to gain victory.
Your purpose of fasting may look different than others’. You might fast before making a big decision, to see God’s intervention on something, to break demonic bondage, to deepen your spiritual hunger for God, or see what desires control you.
The purpose of fasting is to loosen to some degree the ties which bind us to the world of material things and our surroundings as a whole, in order that we may concentrate all our spiritual powers upon the unseen and eternal things.Ole Hallesby
3. What Are the Different Types of Fasting?
There are seven types of Christian fasting: Partial Fasting, The Daniel Fast, Complete Fasting, Absolute Fasting, Sexual Fasting, Corporate Fasting, and a Soul Fast. Read more about each type of fast here: https://justdisciple.com/fasting-types/ and find out which one is the best for you.
4. How Long Should I Fast For?
Your fast and the extent of it is entirely up to you, and the length of your fast depends on what you’re fasting. If you’re fasting food, it’s best to not fast for an extended period of time. I recommend that you pray before your fast as to how long it should be. Have an end goal. If during your fast you feel as if you want to fast longer, then by all means, fast longer! But I would encourage you to not give into temptation and quit the fast before your end goal, unless you can no longer fast due to health reasons.
Remember that your fast isn’t about how long you’re going without a certain thing, but the greater intimacy you are longing to experience with the Lord.
5. What if I Can’t Fast Food Because of my Health?
The good thing about fasting is there are many options and many different things you could fast. I recommend fasting from the thing you feel as if is the most distracting in your life, such as social media, outings with friends, etc. If it has your attention more than the Lord does, I recommend fasting from it.
6. Why Do I Feel More Opposition When I Fast?
When we fast, the enemy trembles with fear because he knows that the fast will increase your spiritual strength and enable you to see spiritual warfare and what he is doing behind the scenes. As we see with Jesus, the devil himself tempted Him when He was fasting, and he does the same with us today. When temptation comes, remind him of the authority you have over him because of the blood of Christ, and he will flee.
Trials and temptations are to be expected during fasting, because you’re going against the normalicies and habits of your everyday life. If we’re hungry, our first instinct is to eat rather than go hungry. In fasting, I encourage you to face opposition rather than avoid it.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.Isaiah 40:29-31
7. What if I Fast and Nothing Comes out of It?
Matthew 6:16-18 says
When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
When fasting for the right reasons, no fast will go in vain and will always benefit you or those around you. It may not be in the way you were hoping for at the moment, but remain encouraged; the Lord knows best, and He is working. Your reward may not come in this life, but it will come in the next.
When you have tried prayer and fasting and nothing happen, praise Him.Funke Felix Adejumo
8. What Do I Do if I’m Served a Meal That Goes Against my Fast?
When you are fasting, it’s important to plan and prepare beforehand. If you know you’re meeting with someone, plan to not have is based around a meal. If you’re in a situation where you’re served a meal that goes against your fast, politely decline with as little explanation as possible. If they insist you eat, share with them that you are on a fast. But the goal is to keep as little attention drawn to yourself and your fast as possible.
9. Is Fasting Required for Christians?
When Jesus taught on fasting in His Sermon on the Mount In Matthew 6:16, He didn’t say “if” you fast, but “when” you fast. And in Matthew 9:15, He doesn’t say His followers “might” fast; but “they will.” It’s something that He expects of us if we are in relation with Him and expect to go deeper in our intimacy with Him. Although it isn’t commanded by Scripture, fasting should be a regular part of the Christian life. There is no reason for a Christian to not fast, especially when Jesus clearly expects His followers to fast regularly.
10. Should I Tell Someone Else That I’m Fasting?
When we look at the story of Jesus’ fast (Matthew 4:1-11), we see that He went to the wilderness. He didn’t go into the city and tell others He was fasting, but He withdrew to be by Himself.
We already took a look at Matthew 6:17-18, but let’s read it again:
But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Scripture is clear here when it says that your fasting should not be obvious to others. It is wise to tell a spouse or a close and trusted friend to help hold you accountable, but it is both unwise and unBiblical to go around telling others of your fast. Remember, your reward is not found in others, but in the Father.
11. What Happens During the Time we Normally Eat?
Spend the time you would normally spend eating meals, on social media, or whatever it may be that you’re fasting from with the Lord. Keep a journal of the things the Lord has been speaking to you and showing you, and set aside specific and significant time to worship, pray, and seek Him. Fasting opens up extra time to spend with the Lord, so choose to use this extra time to do just that rather than replacing it with something else that may distract you from Him.
12. Will We Fast in Heaven?
Fasting is only for this life. In Matthew 22:1-14, Heaven is described as a great banquet and a time of feasting. In Matthew 9:14-15, when Jesus was asked why His disciples didn’t observe a regular fast, He explained that it was because there was no reason to mourn, because He was with them. In Heaven, there will be no reason to mourn; only to celebrate.
13. What are Things to be Cautious of During my Fast?
Be cautious of your motives. Your intention behind fasting should not be to make you holier or more righteous, as you are already made a holy and righteous child of God. You also shouldn’t fast to be seen by others, to be commended, or justified by God.
“Fasting and prayer, when done in the right way, with godly motives and total abandonment to God’s will, predisposes us to God’s revelation, inclines us to God’s will, cleanses and purges our hearts of idols in all their forms, sets us free from the world and its slavish dominion.”William F. Kumuyi
If you’re fasting food, be cautious with what your body is telling you. If you’re experiencing an excessive amount of fatigue, dizziness, headaches, etc., consult your doctor because you may need to break your fast.
It’s also important to be cautious of spiritual warfare, and keep in mind that during fasts, spiritual warfare is very present and very active. Pray for discernment during your fast.
14. How Do I Begin My Fast?
Evaluate why you’re fasting and what you want the Lord to do as a result of your fast. People in the Bible fasted and prayed because they wanted something specific to happen. They wanted God to change their circumstance, reveal something to them, or change them. Prepare beforehand what you’re going to do during the time you usually spend doing the thing you’re fasting from.
Prepare yourself spiritually by spending time confessing and repenting from sin. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you areas of sin in your life that you may be unaware of, and ask Him for His conviction.
Start with occasional short fasts to prepare your body for the fast. If your fast is for an extended period of time, it’s important to prepare mentally, practically, and physically since fasting is abstinence from a regular aspect of your life. If it’s food, cut down on food intake a week before the actual fast and take on a vegetarian diet to help control cravings for food. You should reduce heavily caffeinated drinks and drink more water as well.
Begin your fast with an expectant heart that God will move!
Fasting helps express, deepens, confirms the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves, to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God.Andrew Murray
15. How Do I Finish My Fast?
If you’re fasting food, it’s important to not end your fast abruptly and immediately eat a large meal. Enter back into it by eating small portions. After the fast, read your journal entries about the things the Lord revealed to you, and continue to pray about it.
Ending a fast is easy because it feels as if our reward is the thing we fasted from, but remember that earthly rewards are fleeting, and our satisfaction is in Christ alone. Your fast developed discipline, so even after your fast is over, keep putting that discipline into practice! Don’t allow the same thing you fasted from be a distraction again.
We don’t fast to earn something; we fast to make a connection with our supernatural God. We are cleaning out the “pipe” that connects us to the anointing of God.Mahesh Chavda