Fasting: A Bible-Based Study

Fasting does not change God!  He is the same before, during and after you fast.  Fasting will change you!  It will bring the flesh under submission and will make you more sensitive to the Spirit of God.

Fasting was a usual and normal part of New Testament living.

Acts 10:30 – So Cornelius said, “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing.”

Acts 14:23 – Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.

Acts 13:1-3 – Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul.  While 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.”  So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.

Jesus directed believers to fast

Matthew 6:17-18 – 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.

If you fast in the correct manner with the right motives, God will reward you openly.

Hebrews 11:6 – And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Do it in secret and have a purpose

Old and New Testament promises for those who fast (Isaiah 58:8-9, 11-12)

  • Light
  • Health
  • Righteousness
  • Glory
  • Answered Prayer
  • Continual Guidance
  • Satisfaction
  • Refreshing
  • Work that Endures
  • Restoration

Remember… your body has a very important function as a residence of the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your body.

Romans 6:13 – Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.

Fasting is a very practical way to keep our bodies healthy.

What is The Purpose of Fasting and Praying?

You must have a purpose when you fast. Three primary New Testament conditions are listed for fasting:

  • To minister to the Lord
  • To ordain men to ministry
  • To seek God in times of danger or decision

For the sake of Humility

Psalm 35:13 – Yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth and humbled myself with fasting.

Matthew 23:12 – For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

For the sake of Drawing Closer to The Lord

James 4:8 – Come near to God and he will come near to you.  Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Luke 5:33-35 – They said to him, “John’s disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking.”  Jesus answered, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while he is with them?  But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.”

For the sake of Receiving Direction from The Lord

Ezra 8:21 – There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions.

Acts 27:33-35 – Just before dawn Paul urged them all to eat.  “For the last fourteen days,” he said, “you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food — you haven’t eaten anything.  Now I urge you to take some food.  You need it to survive.  Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.”  After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all.  Then he broke it and began to eat.

For the sake of Deliverance

Isaiah 58:8 – Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

Matthew 17:21 – However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.
See Chronicles 20

2 Corinthians 6:4-5 – Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger.

What Does Fasting Accomplish?

Fasting helps us put flesh under subjection
God will reveal things about your heart while you fast and seek Him in the Word and prayer.

Fasting will make us more receptive to the Spirit
God will change people while they fast (Nineveh, Moses, Daniel saw dramatic change in their nation and cities).

Fasting will bring rewards

  • Enable captives to go free (Isaiah 48)
  • Create more confidence in the Word of God
  • Cleanse people of strife, backbiting, sin, etc.
  • Assist in lessening our dependence on our senses
  • Put you in position to receive from God (self-centeredness, self-righteousness, self-pity, etc.)
  • Place us clearly into the hands of God

Old and New Testament promises for those who fast (Isaiah 58:8-9, 11-12)

  • Light
  • Health
  • Righteousness
  • Glory
  • Answered Prayer
  • Continual Guidance
  • Satisfaction
  • Refreshing
  • Work that Endures
  • Restoration