“Christian fasting – what does the Bible say?”

Answer: Scripture does not command Christians to fast. God does not require or demand it of Christians. At the same time, the Bible presents fasting as something that is good, profitable, and beneficial. The book of Acts records believers fasting before they made important decisions (Acts 13:4; 14:23). Fasting and prayer are often linked together (Luke 2:37; 5:33). Too often, the focus of fasting is on the lack of food. Instead, the purpose of fasting should be to take your eyes off the things of this world to focus completely on God. Fasting is a way to demonstrate to God, and to ourselves, that we are serious about our relationship with Him. Fasting helps us gain a new perspective and a renewed reliance upon God.

Although fasting in Scripture is almost always a fasting from food, there are other ways to fast. Anything given up temporarily in order to focus all our attention on God can be considered a fast (1 Corinthians 7:1-5). Fasting should be limited to a set time, especially when fasting from food. Extended periods of time without eating can be harmful to the body. Fasting is not intended to punish the flesh, but to redirect attention to God. Fasting should not be considered a “dieting method” either. The purpose of a biblical fast is not to lose weight, but rather to gain deeper fellowship with God. Anyone can fast, but some may not be able to fast from food (diabetics, for example). Everyone can temporarily give up something in order to draw closer to God.

By taking our eyes off the things of this world, we can more successfully turn our attention to Christ. Fasting is not a way to get God to do what we want. Fasting changes us, not God. Fasting is not a way to appear more spiritual than others. Fasting is to be done in a spirit of humility and a joyful attitude. Matthew 6:16-18 declares, “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

Recommended Resource: A Hunger for God by John Piper.

on GotQuestions.org
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About blueprintforliving

A born & bred New Yorker living on the other side of the Atlantic since '92. Once you live in a much smaller country you realise everything is precious,take nothing for granted,and you gain a global view which you would never have if you had stayed in the US.
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One Response to “Christian fasting – what does the Bible say?”

  1. juliaelio says:

    Fasting is the humbling of the soul; it gives us time to pray, teaches self-discipline, reminds us that we can live with a lot less, and helps us appreciate GOD’S gifts. The Bible does not command us to fast. GOD gives us many examples which show we are to fast. In Matthew 6:16-17, HE says “when” you fast – not “if” you fast. Also, in this verse as mentioned, JESUS was not condemning fasting, but hyprocrisy-fasting in order to gain public approval. JESUS commended acts of self-sacrifice done quietly and sincerely. Another interesting point is that the Ancient Greek Word for fasting – “nistevo” – literally means “eat nothing.”

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