Fasting is not a topic we discuss much in some church circles – especially not the ones where I have grown up. We’d rather have a big fellowship supper! But fasting is something I believe we may each want to very prayerfully consider. It is a spiritual discipline that benefits believers and the church, particularly in times of distress and great need.
There are specific times when fasting may be especially important:
- When we are repenting from significant sin and grieving over our sin before the Lord. (Joel 2:12)
- When we are facing serious temptation to sin and we want to appeal to the Lord for victory and His power. (Matt. 4:1-11)
- When we are praying for repentance for our families, our churches, or our country and grieving over these sins, feeling the pain the Lord feels over them. (Daniel 9)
- When church leaders are prayerfully deciding on appointing new men to lead in the church, particularly pastors or missionaries. (Acts 14:23)
- When we have a very serious prayer request (I would include determining whether a person is a potential spouse in this, personally) and we want to seek the Lord in a deeper way. (Ezra 8:21-23)
- In times of great grief, perhaps during times of national mourning. (2 Sam. 1:12)
- When we are praying for significant healing – spiritually, emotionally, relationally, or physically – for ourselves or others. (Psalm 35:13)
- When there is a great crisis for the church or the nation and we need God’s intervention – there is threat of war, famine, plague, great persecution, etc… (Jonah 3:5-10, Nehemiah 9:1, Esther 4:3)
- When we are praying for a massive movement of God’s Spirit to bring many into the Kingdom – a new Great Awakening. (Check out this article on revivals and fasting by John Piper)
- As a regular voluntary habit or occasional practice to draw nearer to the Lord and to grow in spiritual maturity ourselves. (Luke 2:37)
There are a number of kinds of fasting: *
- Standard Fast – Avoid all food for a certain period of time and only drink water.
- Absolute Fast – Avoid all food and liquids for a certain period of time.
- Esther and the Jews fasted for 3 days when the Jews were threatened with genocide. (Esther 4:3)
- Partial Fast – Avoid certain foods but other foods are okay to eat.
- Juice Fast – Only drink fruit or vegetable juice for a certain time period.
- Daniel’s Fast – Only eat vegetables/plant-based foods and drink water for a certain time period.
- Intermittent Fast – A fast that is for certain parts of the day.
- Electronics Fast – Avoid distractions like screens, phones, the internet, and social media, to really concentrate on the Lord and on prayer for a certain period of time.
- Sexual Fast – husbands and wives may choose to do this only by mutual consent, and only for a limited time, so that they may pray. (1 Cor. 7:5)
NOTE* – If you are pregnant, nursing, diabetic, hypoglycemic, or have significant medical conditions, please check with your doctor or medical professional before prayerfully deciding what type of fast you might want to do.
www.gotquestions.org has a number of posts about what fasting is and the importance of it.
Types of Fasting – by www.gotquestions.org
Fasting for Beginners – by David Mathis at www.desiringgod.org