What Do The Bible Say About Fasting

What is Fasting?

Fasting is an act of abstinence from food for spiritual or religious reasons. The practice has been found in most major religions around the world, typically with adherents believed to receive spiritual benefits from it. In Christianity, the Bible presents fasting as part of a necessary spiritual exercise, an important act of discipline that can help Christians learn to better concentrate on the things of God and to re-focus themselves on prayer.

What Does The Bible Say About Fasting?

The Bible speaks of fasting both positively and negatively. On the one hand, the Bible states that fasting is an important part of spiritual discipline and is essential for drawing closer to God. Jesus commanded his disciples to fast and pray before choosing the twelve Apostles. In the Old Testament, Moses fasted for 40 days and 40 nights on Mount Sinai as he received the Law from God. Other prophets, such as Elijah and Daniel, also fasted as they received divine revelation.

At the same time, however, the Bible warns against fasting “from mere self-will or human pride.” The primary focus of fasting should always be on drawing closer to God and learning to rely on Him alone. If a person fasts merely to draw attention to themselves, or to make a show of piety, then the fast is not in line with God’s commands. The Bible teaches that fasting should be used to refocus our lives around God, and that it should be undertaken with a sincere heart.

When is Fasting Appropriate?

The Bible doesn’t specify any particular times or circumstances when fasting may be appropriate. In the New Testament, Jesus encourages his followers to fast in times of struggle and crisis. Fasting may also be done during times of thanksgiving, when we wish to draw particularly close to God and express our thankfulness. In the Old Testament, fasting was also commonly done during times of repentance and sorrow for oneself and for the sins of others.

The Bible does not require any strict rules for fasting, but does suggest that it should be done in private rather than made a show of public piety. The duration of the fast may vary according to individual preference or needs. Some people may fast for only a few days, while others may fast for weeks or longer. It’s important to remember that a fast should not cause physical harm if done properly, and should be stopped if it begins to cause physical strain.

What Are The Benefits of Fasting?

The primary benefit of fasting according to the Bible is spiritual, not physical. Fasting is an act of humility and submission to God, offering up our physical appetites in order to draw closer to Him. Through fasting, we open ourselves to be more in tune with the voice of God and to hear more closely the callings He has for our lives. It’s a time to let go of anxieties and worries and to focus on seeking God’s will for our lives.

By humbling ourselves and fasting, we learn to trust in God alone. We learn to rely on His strength and His provisions to sustain us during times of need. We learn to give our entire lives over to Him and allow Him to have control over us and our lives. By humbly surrendering ourselves to Him, we receive a blessing far greater than any physical benefit we might receive from fasting.

How is Fasting Practiced?

Different religions, cultures, and denominations may practice fasting in different ways, but typically, Christians begin a fast by offering up a prayer to God. Depending on the length of the fast, some may also set aside a specific time each day to meditate and pray. During a fast, a person may also give up certain activities such as television, media consumption, or other worldly distractions. This allows a person to focus more fully on their time with God.

During a fast, a person may abstain from all food or just from certain types of food. Fasting from certain foods is more common among certain denominations and practices. For example, some Christians practice a partial fast, in which they abstain from meat, dairy, or other types of food. Others may still do a full fast in which all food is given up. Ultimately, the specific practices and beliefs of an individual or denomination will dictate what type of fast to observe.

Are There Any Risks?

The practice of fasting can be a powerful spiritual exercise, but it’s important to understand the risks involved. Fasting can be physically and emotionally draining and should be approached with care. If a fast is prolonged and excessive, it can put a great deal of strain on the body, leading to serious physical and emotional health issues. People who suffer from chronic conditions or illnesses should consult a doctor before attempting a fast.

It’s also important to understand the psychological effects of fasting, since a fast can be emotionally taxing. Hunger can cause intense cravings and irritability and can make it difficult to concentrate. Even partial fasting can provoke intense psychological stress, so it’s important to remember that fasting should be done with care and with a spirit of humility.


The Bible speaks of fasting in both a positive and negative light, emphasizing the importance of a proper attitude and a sincere heart. For Christians, fasting is a necessary spiritual exercise that helps to draw people closer to God and to His will. There are many benefits to fasting, such as an increased connection with God and an ability to discern His will for our lives more clearly. At the same time, there are risks to fasting, so it’s important to remember to proceed with care and humility.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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