When we fast, we deny ourselves things we love for something we love even more. Christians fast as a spiritual practice to deepen their relationship with God. Fasting is often done to connect with God, seek His guidance, and grow in humility.
Fasting can take many forms, such as taking a break from eating certain foods, social media, or other things we enjoy. The goal of fasting is to grow in our relationship with God.
Fasting is often connected to prayer and meditation. It can also be a way to learn self-control, humility, and to practice self-discipline.
What Does the Bible Say About Fasting?
Biblical fasting, unlike fasting for medical or health reasons, must be done with an attitude of seriousness and sincerity. When we fast, we willingly deprive the body of nourishment and the pleasurable taste of food. The body requires food for sustenance; therefore, our hearts and minds must be totally focused and directed toward God so that He may be the full source of our strength during our period of fasting.
Fasting isn’t a performance for God or others. It’s an act of humble worship, so do your best to keep your fast a secret. It’s not necessary for others to know we are fasting; it is directed toward God. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men 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. Matthew 6:17-18
In addition to our attitudes toward God and our stance before man, our motives must also be correct. We should fast to further the building up of God’s kingdom by seeking to minister to others. The prophet Isaiah received from the Lord the acceptable motives for our fasts. Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter–when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Isaiah 58:6-7
How Should We Fast?
Fasts may last for varying lengths of time–one day, three days, seven days, or more. We should prayerfully seek the Lord about the length of our fast. Fasting should have an object in mind; we should have a clear idea of the need and purpose.
If you choose to fast from food, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water throughout your fast. If there’s a medical reason why you can’t fast from food, choose a different kind of fast.
Types of Fasts
- Full Fast: Drink only liquids (you establish the number of days).
- Three-Day Fast: This fast can be a full fast or giving up at least one item of food.
- Partial Fast: A partial fast is 6:00am-3:00pm, or from sunup to sundown. You can select from three types of fasting—a Full Fast, Daniel Fast or giving up at least one item of food.
- Media Fast: Eliminate any choice of media influence–television, movies, Internet, gaming systems, cell phones, etc.