Fasting’s acceptable to God when a Christian pursues it with the right heart. However, it brings God disfavor when taken in the wrong action. The more I learn about fasting and the Lord’s wisdom, the more questions produce in my head. I want to understand the Biblical context and origin of a Christian practice I am participating in. Is fasting a requirement for Christians today? Read below to see what I have discovered.
Are Christians required to fast today? No, Christians are not required to fast. However, it’s highly recommended to fast as a believer, and Jesus Himself expects it of us. This is to be more spiritually fed and more intimate in a relationship with the Lord.
Digging into more research, I have discovered quite a few interesting facts and scriptures that relate to fasting. I even learned about the thirteen letters that the apostle Paul wrote in the New Testament. Here are few findings that I thought would be important; to highlight for others who are curious about why Christians have been fasting since the beginning.
Fasting is defined as the action of abstaining from food or drink for a spiritual reason. Christians fast for a more intimate and deeper relationship with the Lord, Himself.
What is 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
While a follower of Christ fasts, they pray, read scripture and meditate on God’s love. They avoid food or water (or both) for a specific situation or reason. Fasters usually participate in this practice to receive an answer for God or to dedicate their prayer time to someone else. The main point is not to see how long they can survive from abstaining from food and water, but to devote themselves to prayer correspondingly.
Why is Fasting Not Required?
The reason why fasting is not required is that there’s not one place written in the Bible to demand believers to fast. Also, in all thirteen letters apostle, Paul writes, there is not one piece of the works of literature mention a command of fasting.
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.Matthew 6:16
In the book of Matthew, Jesus Christ said to His disciples: “When (or often when) they fast, He did not say, “If you fast.” This is phrasing His comments this way, Jesus was assuming that His followers would be fasting, just as He previously assumed that they would be giving to the poor (6:2) and to pray (6:5-7).
Even though fasting for a Christian is not a requirement, it is a necessity. The Bible highly encourages Christians to fast from food and water for a period of time.
Biblical Fasting in Today’s Church
Although fasting is not required, it is highly encouraged by Christ, Himself. When questioned as to why the Pharisees and the disciples of John the Baptist fasted while Jesus disciples did not. Christ answered, in the book of Matthew, that fasting would become a necessity when He was leaving the world.
And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?” The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.Matthew 9:15
Biblical Examples of Fasting
There are many different Biblical examples of fasting. The practice of fasting is used strategically throughout both the Old and New Testament.
Provided below are different scriptures of fasting with examples :
Moses & The Ten Commandments
The first example I am going to provide is back at the beginning of the Bible. In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses fasted before receiving the commandments. He fasted for 40 days and then went up to Mount Saini for the meeting with God, Himself.
After Moses came down from Mount Saini, the Lord saw the Israelites transgressing the commandments that were just given, this resulted in Moses angrily breaking the tablets of stone. After this event occurred, he ascends up the mountain once again and proceeds to fast another 40 days (without food and water) before receiving the law once more.
When I went up the mountain to receive the tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant that the Lord made with you, I remained on the mountain forty days and forty nights. I neither ate bread nor drank water.Deuteronomy 9:9
Esther & The Safety of The Jews
When Mordecai, one of the personalities in the book of Esther, hears that the Jews are going to be exterminated, he told Queen Esther. The queen fasted for the safety of her people (the Jews) and risked her life with a petition to save them. The Jews also fasted for 3 days without food or drink to communicate with the Lord and ask for protection.
For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”Esther 4:14
Read more Biblical examples of fasting here.
3 Benefits of Fasting
Throughout the Bible. fasting is appreciated by the Lord. He honors this practice for the reason of being worshipped and glorified. When a believer fasts, they are only focusing on and relying on the Lord. While their bodies are in necessity of water and food, Christians who fast spend the time when they are supposed to be dining, praying and meditating on scripture.
Here are a few aspects of how fasting can be beneficial for a Christian:
- Nearness to God
- Spiritual freedom
- Worshiping God
1. Nearness to God
When a Christian fasts, they are growing spiritually and emotionally closer to the Lord. The reason they are fasting is to seek God’s wisdom, advice, and guidance. Christians render their hearts unto the Lord when they are participating in the practice. Which is why fasting brings someone ultimately closer to our creator.
When I fast, I personally feel that my communication with the Holy Spirit is immensely clearer and secure. There is nothing more encouraging than sitting in a room by yourself and God. You can communicate with Him about anything and He can give you advice and scriptures if you seek His answers and wisdom.
2. Spiritual Freedom
The times when a Christian fasts, they sometimes experience strongholds of the enemy being broken off. Different types of oppression or chains that they are held in bondage of being lifted off and demolished. When someone refrains from listening to the enemy, and instead only lives through God’s love, (not on nourishment) then they are casting all of their worries, regrets, and anxieties to the Lord’s feet. They are giving God authority, and are submitting to his royalty.
…casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.1 Peter 5:7
When I fasted for the first time, I received a sense of spiritual freedom from the lies and rumors that the enemy placed into my head. Demons are meant to oppress you and make you question everything about your faith. That is exactly what was happening to me, and when I spent a few days asking God why my faith exists, He shows me His importance and mine as well.
3. Worshiping God
Worshiping the Lord includes being thankful and grateful for all of the wondrous blessings He has bestowed upon humanity. From listening to music and singing His name on high, to sitting alone in a room focusing on God’s Word, there are many different ways to worship Him. Not many believers think of fasting as a way of glorifying the Lord. However, when all someone does is communicate with, listen, and study His name, fasting is a form is worshiping. The only way for truly and properly fast is by a believer being only fixating their mind and heart on God, Himself.
I love to worship the Lord. Whether that be through song, dancing, or sitting outside with my Bible. Fasting is another beautiful way to glorify His name and seek His counseling. I highly recommend fasting to seek clarity about the Lord, someone, or even yourself.
If you are interested in finding out more about the different types of fasting, read the blog Reasons Christians Should Fast (Spiritual, Biblical, Health).