Crossroads Baptist Church


Wondering about fasting? Let these questions and answers start your personal study of this critical tenant of the Christian faith.

* What is fasting?

Abstaining from something, usually food, for spiritual purposes.

* What does the Bible say?

- Biblical examples: Moses (Exodus 34:28; Deut. 9:9,18), David (2 Samuel 12:16), Elijah (1 Kings 19:8), Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1:4); Esther (Esther 4:16), Daniel (Daniel 1:12), Anna (Luke 2:37), Paul (Acts 14:23), Jesus (Matthew 4:1-2), the early church (13:2).
- Jesus placed fasting on the same level as financial giving and prayer (Matthew 6:1-18).
- Jesus said that there is a time for fasting (Matthew 9:15).
- Paul says we should give ourselves at times to prayer and fasting (1 Corinthians 7:5).

* What is the purpose of fasting?

- The primary purpose of fasting is to focus on God and to center our attention on Him. In doing so, we glorify God (Zechariah 7:5).

- Outer fasting is to lead to inner prayer, worship, and devotion. We "fast on food so we can feast on God."
- Fasting is not for personal glory or any other selfish motives (Matthew 6:16-18).
- Secondary purposes of fasting: fasting can reveal non-essential things that control us and take precedence in our lives (1 Corinthians 6:12); fasting can increase the effectiveness of prayer (2 Samuel 12:16); fasting can bring guidance from God in decisions (Acts 14:23); fasting can bring revelations (Acts 13:2); fasting can help our physical wellbeing (Daniel 1:12); fasting can aid in concentration; fasting can help bring deliverance for those who are in bondage.

* But these benefits come only when fasting is our attempt to diligently seek God.

* What are the different types of fasting?

- absolute fast: no food or water for a period of time (Exodus 34:28; Esther 4:16)
- normal fast: only water, but no food or other drink (Nehemiah 1:4) This is the traditional fasting method used by Jesus on His 40 day fast.
- partial fast: usually only water, juices, and sometimes fruit (Daniel 1:12)

- other things to fast from: people, media, telephone, certain activities/habits, etc.