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What is fasting and what is the correct way of doing it?


Thank you so much for your spiritual enquiry about fasting.

Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?" And Jesus said to them, "Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast." (Matthew 9:14-15)

To fast is to stop eating food for a time, so as to free up more time for prayer. When we fast, we are asking God for more clarity of purpose and greater power, seeking a victorious outcome for the things we are praying about. Although it may be difficult, fasting should be a common practice amongst Christians.

The apostle Paul wrote about his own life that he was

In weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness (2 Corinthians 11:27)

In the Bible, there are no specific Scriptural words of advice about how to fast. There are no direct instructions regarding how long to fast for, or if you are to visit your doctor before starting, or even of how to break your fast. Nor indeed, are there any instructions on the type of water which you are to drink during a fast: spring, still, carbonated, purified, or maybe mixed with ‘allowed’ fruit juices. There are no specific fasting instruction in the Bible.

In our modern world, or due to medical conditions, a Christian may even choose to fast something other than food as a sign of dedication to God, and devote themselves to prayer during these times. This could be fasting from music, a favourite TV programme or something else that can be missed in order to dedicate yourself further to God.

In the Bible we see people fasting for no more than forty days; and that these times of fasting were at special times in their lives when they needed greater clarity of purpose or power for the spiritual conflict that they knew was coming. (See Matthew 4:1-15 & Matthew 17:21)

In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.

Then he said to me, "Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words." (Daniel 10:2-3,12)

Finally, be sure not to draw attention to yourself in fasting. Fasting creates space for you to focus on God, not for people to focus on you fasting!

"Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly". (Matthew 6:16-18)

In summary, to ‘fast’ rightly, simply take the time you would have dedicated to the preparation of food, the eating of the meal and conversations that ensued over it and the tidying up thereafter, and then dedicate that time to prayer. When you do this set a realistic and specific time period and end date and then just get on with it!

Remember, that there is no spiritual merit in fasting (you are not earning God's approval) but the rewards are threefold - more time with God in prayer, clearer vision and undoubtedly more power to accomplish His will and purpose.

Here are some more Bible Verses for your further consideration:

  • Acts 13:2
  • Acts 9:9-17
  • Matthew 9:14-15

I hope this answer helps you to find peace with God through Jesus Christ. If you want to know more about what Jesus has done for you please watch the video on the main part of our site: Watch the video

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*All Scripture references are taken From The New King James Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise

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