Fasting and Prayer
Definition of Fasting
“A Christian’s voluntary abstinence from food for spiritual purposes”
Description of Fasting
Fasting is a spiritual discipline that was practiced in the bible, the early church and is still practiced around the world today. There are 74 separate references to fasting in the Bible. There's actually more teaching in the New Testament on fasting than there is on repentance and confession.
The primary purpose of fasting is to strengthen one’s reliance on Christ
- “Fasting confirms our utter dependence upon God by finding in him a source of sustenance beyond food. Through it, we learn by experience that God’s word to us is a life substance” (Willard, pg. 166).
- “Fasting is not an end in itself; it is a means by which we can worship the Lord and submit ourselves in humility to him” (Towns, pg. 17).
It helps discipline our spirit
- "These disciplines train our body and personality to be able to want something and not get it." Dallas Willard
- "Fasting transforms us to transform the world." Dr. Bill Bright
- "Fasting can be God's catalyst to thrust us into a whole new world." Don DeWelt
- Foster, Richard. Celebration of Discipline. San Francisco: Harper , 1998.
- Whitney, Donald. Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. Colorado Springs, Colorado: Nav Press, 1991.
- Willard, Dallas. The Spirit of the Disciplines. San Francisco: Harper , 1988.Towns, Elmer. Fasting for
- Spiritual Breakthrough. Ventura, California: Regal Books, 1996.
- The setting apart of leaders
Acts 13:3, Acts 14:23
- Intercession for the people of God
Exodus 24:18, Deuteronomy 9:8-9, 12-20, 23-27, Ezra 10:6, Daniel 9:3-4, Joel 2:12- 14, 17-18, Jonah 3:5-10
- Humbling oneself
I Kings 21:27-29, Psalms 35:13; 69:10
- Seeking the Lord and His way
Judges 20:26-28, II Chronicles 20:3, Ezra 8:21-23
- Repentance and confession of sin
I Samuel 7:6, I Kings 21:27-29, Ezra 10:6 , Nehemiah 1:4-7; 9:1-3, Jeremiah 36:6-10
- Receiving healing
I Samuel 1:5-11, 18-20, II Samuel 12:15- 16, 22-23, Isaiah 58:8, Acts 9:9, 17-19
Petitioning God to withhold His judgment. Deuteronomy 9:18, 25, Isaiah 58:9
- Preparation to receive word from God
Deuteronomy 9:18, 25, Isaiah 58:9
- Spiritual deliverance
Isaiah 58:6, Mark 9:29 (Matthew 17:21), II Chronicles 20:3
- Mourning another's death
II Samuel 1:12; 3:35
- Seeking protection
Ezra 8:21-23, Esther 4:3; 9:1-3, Daniel 6:18
- Lacking material provision; in need
II Corinthians 11:27
- Normal fasts - fasting from food
- Absolute fast - fasting from food and liquids
(Caution: Should not be undertaken over 3 days, and only if you have a clear directive from the Lord and are in good heath).
Ezra 10:6, Esther 4:16, Acts 9:9, Acts 27:33
- Partial fast - fasting from certain foods or liquids
- One night
- One day
I Samuel 7:6, II Samuel 1:12; 3:35, Judges 20:26
- Three days and three nights
Esther 4:16, Acts 9:9, 17-19
- Seven days
I Samuel 31:13, II Samuel 12:16-23
- Fourteen days
- Twenty-one days
- Forty days
Moses - Exodus 24:18; 34:28, Deuteronomy 9:9, 18, 25-29; 10:10
Elijah - I Kings 19:8
Jesus - Matthew 4:2 (Mark 1:13; Luke 4:2)