Fasting has been one of the most prominent spiritual rituals for centuries, and it is mentioned in several books of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. Fasting is a practice of abstaining from certain foods and drinks, typically for religious and spiritual purposes. Through fasting, believers are said to be able to better connect to God, receive God’s revelation and guidance, overcome spiritual attacks and grow closer in their relationship with the Heavenly Father. But what does the Bible say about fasting? Is it really a part of the spiritual practice in Christianity? Here we are going to look at what fasting entails and what the Bible says about it.
Fasting, as defined in the Bible, means to go without eating food and drinking water for a set period of time. It is a voluntary and usually public action undertaken as an expression of spiritual devotion. The Bible mentions fasts on numerous occasions, mostly as a way of expressing surrender, repentance and obedience towards God. For example, when Moses wanted to communicate effectively with God, he fasted for 40 days (Exodus 34:28). Similarly, when Esther sought the Lord’s favor in the face of her enemies, she and her people fasted for three days (Esther 4:15-16).
Fasting is also seen as a way to experience corporate prayer and revival. In the book of Joel, God promises a serious warning of judgment but also a glimmer of hope for his people if they “assemble and fast” (Joel 2:12-14). Furthermore, fasting is described as a way to practice humility and demonstrate submission before the Lord. In Psalm 35:13, David describes God as the one who “hears the sound of my plea for mercy.” This reinforces the idea that through fasting, it is possible to surrender one’s entire being to the Lord and allow Him to answer our prayers.
The Bible also sheds light on the importance of having a right attitude towards fasting as well as eating. For example, Isaiah 58:5-11 explains that when fasting is done with a sincere heart, for the purpose of glorifying God and pursuing justice, it can be a means of real blessing to the world. Similarly, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 talks about the importance of having a holy attitude to both food and drink and how it can spiritually nourish us. In essence, fasting is not just a physical act of abstaining from something, but it should also reflect an internal attitude of humility and surrender before the Lord.
Fasting according to the Bible is not meant to be a self-righteous religious activity, but an act of humility and devotion. It should be done with an understanding of its purpose and an attitude of self-denial before the Lord. As the Bible teaches, fasting is a tremendous spiritual discipline and an expression of deep devotion that can help draw us closer to God in an intimate relationship.
Effect Of Fasting On Self
Fasting typically has a profound effect on self. When we fast from something, it is not just about abstaining from a certain food or drink. We fast for the purpose of deepening our spiritual nature. As suggested in Psalm 35:13, fasting should lead us closer to God. In essence, as we seek to be closer to God, we get closer to ourselves. As we take time out to deny ourselves ultimately, it helps us to connect with our authentic being, an individual undervalued in the busyness of life. Thus, fasting can act as a way to break through the shackles of monotony that bind us and unlock the true potential lying dormant within.
Various research has suggested that focusing on one’s core self, through fasting, can have significant positive effects on psychological well-being and cognitive function. In a study conducted in 2014, researchers found that when practitioners dedicated themselves solely to morning meditation with nothing else to focus on, they experienced higher levels of clarity in their mental and emotional faculties. Furthermore, another study published in 2007, concluded that fasting assists in modulating emotions and balancing hormones, leading to improved mental health and enhanced cognitive functioning, such as increased intelligence, creativity, and sound decision making.
Fasting can also be an incredibly powerful physical and emotional cleansing ritual. It is said to release toxins from the body and to rid oneself from the physical, mental, and emotional baggage that can weigh us down throughout the day. The absence of food helps to bring a certain clarity and focus. Fasting can be used as a spiritual exercise to help one recognize their everyday needs and gifts, come to terms with them, appreciate them and move on.
Effects Of Fasting On Relationships
Fasting can have a positive effect on relationships. According to theory and several studies, fasting can influence emotions and cognition in the short term and may have an effect on social interaction and behavior. In a study published in 2016, practitioners reported experiencing an overall improvement not just in their own personal wellbeing but also in their social relationships.
Part of the reason why fasting can affect relationships is because it works as a kind of reset button and gives practitioners a chance to re-evaluate the dynamics in their relationships with others. As such, it can act as an opportunity to pay closer attention to the impact of their behavior and the words they use when engaging with loved ones. This can result in increasing empathy and understanding and developing healthier relationships with the people around them.
Fasting can also a way of detoxifying oneself from larger negative influences like addictions, bad habits, and ingrained patterns of behavior. When one experiences these overwhelming negative influences, it can be hard to break out of them and focus instead on developing healthy relationships with others. By consciously fasting from certain habits or situations, it can be easier to find the peace, patience and understanding that we need to better engage with those around us.
Types Of Fasting
There are various types of fasting one can practice in the Bible, such as absolute fast, total fast, partial fast, and the Daniel fast. Absolute fast is the most intense form of fasting, where one abstains from eating and drinking for a set period of time. The total fast is when one only takes water, whereas partial fast is when only certain foods or drinks are restricted. Lastly, Daniel fast is when specific types of food (both animal and plant-based) are avoided while practicing a partial fast.
Beyond these types of fasting, there are other ways to abstain from certain behaviors and activities. These can include fasting from self-criticism, unhealthy environments, negative thoughts, and toxic relationships. Each of these ‘fasts’ can help to better ground oneself in their faith and deepen one’s spiritual development. The important thing to remember is that whatever type of fast one chooses to practice, it should ultimately be used as a tool to draw near to God with a sense of humility and reverence.
Practicing Fasting In A Healthy Way
It is important to remember that fasting is safe and healthy when done in moderation. When fasting, it is important to listen to the body and not to overstretch oneself. Prolonged fasting can lead to dehydration, exhaustion, and other health issues. In general, one should ensure to keep up regular hydration and nutrition levels. Consult with a doctor first before going on a prolonged or intense fast to ensure that it is safe and beneficial for their health.
The practitioner should also make sure that their fast is in a supportive environment. If possible, it should be done in the presence of a spiritual mentor, or at least someone experienced in the spiritual practice of fasting. This is to make sure that the fast is conducted in a mindful way, with respect to one’s physical and spiritual state. Simply put, one should only fast as much as they can handle, and within the boundaries of safety.
Conclusion Of Fasting According To The Bible
To conclude, the Bible shows us that fasting is an important spiritual practice that can bring us closer to God, nurture our relationship with Him, and help us to better understand ourselves and restore relationships with those around us. It is also a tool that can be used to focus on cultivating a better relationship with God and increasing one’s spiritual awareness. The key to getting the most out of fasting is to practice it with an attitude of humility, reverence and surrender before God. If done in a healthy and mindful way, fasting can be a source of great blessing and spiritual nourishment.