Fasting is voluntarily giving up something we normally consume or do so that we can increase our focus on God.

Most commonly, fasting is linked to food and can mean not eating, or giving up a specific food for a period of time.

Fasting is an act of worship - we show Jesus that we love Him more than our own comfort.

Why fast?

There is something intangible and hard to define about the power of fasting. We see many examples of it in the Bible and within the life of Jesus:

“When you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others 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.”

Matthew 6:16-18

Jesus expects us us to fast, and suggests that there are answers to prayer we will be unable to get without fasting. 

“So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off... ”

Acts 13:3

In the Bible, Esther, Anna, Cornelius, Paul, Daniel, Ezra and David all fasted, and the early church practised it regularly.

Fasting is linked to specific moments in the Bible too: 

  • Moses fasted for 40 days when he went up to Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments
  • The nation of Israel practiced fasting as a community during annual festivals. 
  • After his baptism, Jesus was led into 40 days of prayer and fasting in the desert before launching into three of the most impacting years anyone has ever lived.

There is power in denying ourselves to seek God. Fasting connects us to Him and gives strength to our prayers. But fasting doesn't have to be related to food. 

Practical notes about Fasting

  • For health reasons total food fasts for a day or more aren’t recommended for anyone under 16, expectant or breast-feeding mothers, or anyone with a medical disorder affected by diet like Diabetes.
  • We also recommend that food fasts should not be entered into by anyone with a history of eating disorders. Fasting should be a positive dedication to God, so discuss your motivation for fasting before committing to it.
  • If you want to take on a total food fast for an extended period (such as 40 days), don’t make the decision alone. Consult your doctor for a recommended diet in the run up to and end of the fast, as a challenge like this takes preparation for your body and mind.

If food is an inappropriate fast for you, then there are many other (sometimes more challenging) ways to deny yourself, such as:

  • Television
  • Your phone
  • Social media
  • Speaking
  • Sleep

However you choose to fast, prioritise spending time in prayer and worship when you do it - focus your mind and energy on God; and be encouraged as you do so. 

Go Deeper: Check out this downloadable PDF on Fasting from our Prayer Course website