7 Thoughts on Fasting

Empty plate with napkin on white wooden table.

Leading up to Passion Week and Resurrection Sunday is an excellent opportunity to teach and encourage the discipline of fasting in your church. Bill Bright once said, “Can you imagine what would happen if just half the members of your church would earnestly fast and pray with pure hearts and proper motives? You could expect another Pentecost—a miracle of God’s grace.” Fasting is a meaningful spiritual practice, and it is a way to draw closer to God, seek guidance, and express repentance. As you teach on fasting, make sure your church understands:

1. Christ Assumed Christians Would Fast (Matthew 6:16-18; 9: 15).

Fasting is not only for “mainline” churches. Instead, it is a beautiful practice where a Christian denies himself or herself something specific to allow more time to focus on the Lord. John Piper opined, “The absence of fasting in our lives is the measure of contentment with the absence of Christ in our lives.”

2. Fasting is for God (Zechariah 7:5-6). 

Fasting is not about you or me. John Wesley correctly declared, “First let it [fasting] be done unto the Lord with our eye singly fixed on Him. Let our intention herein be this, and this alone, to glorify our Father which is in heaven.”

3. Fasting Helps Put Ourselves in Submission to God (1 Corinthians 6:12-14; 9:24-27; Philippians 3:19).

Bill Bright remarked, “Fasting reduces the power of self so that the Holy Spirit can do a more intense work within us.”

4. Fasting and Prayer Go Together (Matthew 17:16-21).

During a season of fasting, set aside definite times for prayer on a daily and weekly basis. You deny yourself to allow more time to focus on God in prayer.

5. Fasting is Often Followed by the Power of the Spirit (Mark 1:12-15).

Not only do we find Jesus fasting and praying before the launch of His ministry, but we also see a connection between fasting and mighty moves of God throughout Church history. For example, George Whitefield and Charles Wesley spent extensive time praying and fasting before the Great Awakening.

6. Various Types of Fasts:

  • Normal Fast. Total abstinence from food while subsisting on water or fruit juices (Luke 4:2). You may wish to fast each week a 24-hour fast (begin fasting after supper one evening and break the fast at supper the next day).
  • Daniel Fast (Daniel 1:1-21; 10:3). Fruits and vegetables may be eaten. Water and fruit juices are acceptable drinks. No meats.
  • Specific Food Fast. Fast coffee, tea, colas, sweets, breads and so forth. Choose whatever the Lord leads. Every time you desire that pleasure, focus on Christ.
  • Entertainment or Recreational Fast. Deny yourself of entertainment or recreation. This fast can be absolute for the prescribed fasting period (such as cutting out social media, golf, etc. altogether) or partial (such as, for example, denying self of television during a particular time of the day/ evening) to allow time for prayer and Bible reading. Again, allow the Lord to lead.

Fasting is a spiritual journey; there is no one-size-fits-all approach. It’s essential to approach fasting with a humble and sincere heart, seeking God’s guidance. If you have any health concerns, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before undertaking a food fast. 

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21).

This article was written by state missionary Rob Jackson.