Fasting means abstaining from something, usually food, in order to concentrate on prayer or repentance for the sin one has committed. By abstaining from food and cooking, one first of all has more time to pray, but one is also more open to God’s word and more eager to pray. The most common length of fasting is from evening to evening, but longer periods occur, such as Moses, Elijah, and Jesus’ 40-day fast.
“3Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.” (Da 9:3)
“26Then all the people of Israel, the whole army, went up and came to Bethel and wept. They sat there before the Lord and fasted that day until evening, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord.” (Jdg 20:26)
“4As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.” (Ne 1:4)
“21Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods.” (Ezr 8:21)
“37and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.” (Lk 2:37)
“2And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.” (Mt 4:2)
“16“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18that 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.” (Mt 6:16–18)
“2While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.” (Ac 13:2–3)
“23And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.” (Ac 14:23)
- What is the purpose of fasting?
- What is your experience with fasting?
- In what situations should you fast?
- Can you fast in the wrong way?
- Do you have to fast from food, or is it more effective in today’s modern society to fast from, for example, watching TV or Facebook?
Additional Bible Verses
Jer 14:11-12, Est 4:3, Est 4:16, 1 Sam 7:5-6