Scripture often affirms fasting as a worthwhile spiritual practice. Fasting is never mandated in the Bible, but it’s easy to see why it might be helpful, particularly before making major life decisions, when you need to be able to clear your head and listen to Jesus and God’s message without distractions. Which is exactly what Christians mean when they fast.
The point isn’t starvation per se, but rather a complete reorientation of our attention away from our own selfish needs and onto God. It’s about maturing into a Christlike character and relying progressively on the Holy Spirit. If you’re fasting, use the hours that you would have spent eating breakfast, lunch, or supper to connect with God instead.
Ten Reasons Why Christians Fast According To Scripture
Fasting isn’t a spiritual practice in and of itself, but rather a means to a goal. If you’re going to fast, be sure it’s for a cause the Bible either explicitly states or provides examples for. You’ll find 10 of the most common reasons for fasting in the Bible here.
“So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.” (Ezra 8:23)
Fasting and prayer, particularly intercessory prayer, is linked in several Old Testament stories. While fasting won’t affect whether or not God listens to our prayers, it may affect how we pray. Fasting, as stated by Arthur Wallis, is meant to add “imperative” and “urgency” to one’s prayers, thus strengthening their impact before the heavenly tribunal.
Asking for God’s Guidance
“Then all the Israelites, the whole army, went up to Bethel, and there they sat weeping before the Lord. They fasted that day until evening and presented burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to the Lord.” (Judges 20:26)
As is the case with prayer, the purpose of fasting to seek God’s guidance is not to influence God in any way, but rather to make ourselves more open to his direction.
“Then they took their bones and buried them under a tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and they fasted seven days.” (1 Samuel 31:13)
Grief is a common motivating factor for going without food. Have you ever realized that you lose your appetite when you’re so sad that you can’t hold back the tears? Because fasting is the natural reaction of the body to grief, those close to the bereaved sometimes have to beg them to eat. In 2 Samuel 1:12, for instance, we read that David and his troops “mourned and wept and fasted till evening” for their allies, foes, and homeland.
Seeking Deliverance and Shelter
“Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.” (2 Chronicles 20:3-4)
In the Old Testament, fasting was practiced for a variety of reasons, one of which was to pray for release from one’s adversaries or conditions. This kind of fast is typically done in the company of other believers when it is described in the Bible.
As Acts of Repentance and Return To God’s Embrace
“When they had assembled at Mizpah, they drew water and poured it out before the Lord. On that day they fasted and there they confessed, “We have sinned against the Lord.” Now Samuel was serving as leader[a] of Israel at Mizpah.” (1 Samuel 7:6)
This particular form of fasting enables us to communicate our sorrow for the wrongs we have committed and demonstrates the seriousness with which we intend to resume walking the road of holy obedience.
Humbling Oneself Before God
“When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly. Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite: “Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself, I will not bring this disaster in his day, but I will bring it on his house in the days of his son.” (1 Kings 21:27-29)
It is important to keep in mind that the act of fasting in and of itself does not constitute humility before God, but that it ought to be an expression of humility.
Concern about God’s Work
“They said to me, ‘Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.’ When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.” (Nehemiah 1:3-4)
Similar to what happened with Nehemiah, fasting can be a physical manifestation of our concern for a certain work that God is performing.
Serving The Needs Of Others
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.
Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?
“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 them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? (Isaiah 58:3-7)
When we forego eating at regular times, we gain valuable time that may be put to better use serving others.
When we are having difficulty maintaining our attention due to the effects of certain temptations, fasting might be of assistance. Just think back to the incident that is told in Matthew 4:4–11 about Jesus being tempted in the desert.
Expressing Adoration and Worship To God
“and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.” (Luke 2:37)
When we go without food for an extended period, it might be a reflection of what we value most.
A Prayer To Prepare For Your Fast
As I begin my fast, Heavenly Father, please renew my strength. Please help me to see this as an opportunity for personal development and restoration. Assuage my concerns regarding potential sacrifices or unpleasant experiences.
Give me faith that You will be with me in the good times and the bad, in the times of spiritual development and submission, and in the times of weakness.
As I practice this spiritual discipline, I ask that you help me see the benefits rather than the drawbacks. Holy Spirit, if you would guide me, I am ready to go.
To You, Lord God, for Your honor, I offer this fast.
Thank you, God, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
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