Biblical Fasting – Important Spiritual Discipline
Today, Christendom is without Christ. Many Believers in Jesus Christ have drifted from the Word of God. They speak, teach, and preach whatever they desire. The Bible is no longer the chief authority of their lives. Conducting a biblical fast is a case in point. Below, I will utilize seven points as I attempt to dissolve some of the myths surrounding, what is fasting in the Bible?
They include but are not limited to the definition of a biblical fast; how long to fast; connecting with nature while fasting; the importance of prior physical preparation of a biblical fast; is biblical fasting a weight-loss tool, and who could practice biblical fasting?
The Bible is my sole authority.
Biblical Fast – Table of Contents
- What is Biblical Fasting?
- How Long to Fast?
- Intermittent Fasting Duration
- Exercise While Fasting?
- Connect With Nature While Fasting?
- Is Fasting Good for Your Health?
- Biblical Fast & Weight Loss
- Could any Believer Fast?
- Concluding Statements
1). What is Fasting in the Bible?
Today, fasting is a controversial topic. Opinions are rife and there is no scarcity of authority on biblical fasting.
However, the only legitimate authority for a biblical fast is the Bible. Here too is where chaos rules.
Everyone has a personal interpretation of the Scriptures. Why don’t they allow the Scriptures to explicate themselves?
They do! From Genesis through Revelations, not one person ever ate or drank while fasting. No, not one.
Nevertheless, biblical fasting is much more than abstaining from food and drinks.
Additionally, biblical fasting is never “to voluntarily reduce or eliminate your intake of food for a specific time and purpose.”
That description of Christian fasting is an opinion and not an extract from the true Word of God.
Biblical fasting is a predefined duration during which a Believer does not eat or drink any food or fluid respectively, and approaches and seeks God with prayers afflicting his or her soul for a well-defined reason or reasons.
That is my definition of a biblical fast that the Bible supports.
The Christian Fast
In the scripture quoted immediately below, Apostle Paul spoke of “having taken nothing” while “fasting”. All scriptures relating to fasting have a similar context to this one, abstinence! (Acts 27:33).
They promote no eating or drinking!
“And while the day was coming on, Paul besought them all to take meat, saying, This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and continued fasting, having taken nothing,” .(Acts 27:33; Matthew 15:32)
Therefore, a biblical fast is a Christian fast according to the examples and directives of the Word of God.
A Believer enters into one when he or she acknowledges the Bible as the Supreme Guide and directive concerning fasting.
It alone determines the nature of our fasting. The Christian fast is the biblical fast.
2). How Long to Fast?
Seeing that Jesus never gave his apostles any direct instruction concerning how long to fast, then there’s no biblical restriction on the length of our fast.
We could choose how long to fast at will. If you want to fast for four hours go right ahead, it’s OK with the Lord.
Or you may wish to fast for six hours or twelve, no problem.
This is true despite the Bible referring to “fasting day” and “in the day of your fast” and “a day for a man to afflict his soul” (Jeremiah 36:6; Isaiah 58:3, 5).
In the instances above, the Lord was directly addressing the nation of Israel. When the Bible gives no direct commandment, to the church, never assume one is given.
Consequently, if we follow any fasting example in it we would still be obeying the Lord.
What Activities Define Every Biblical Fast?
However, the Word of God describes certain activities that define every biblical fast. None of them involves eating or drinking.
Almost anything, if not all things, that the Lord commands Israel to do the church could spiritually adopt but not physically.
For example, He commands the nation of Israel to keep the Lord’s Passover (Exodus 12:47).
Spiritually we could adopt the Passover, but physically which one of us knows all the rituals of it?
Intermittent Fasting Duration
In a physical sense, we don’t understand the Lord’s Passover. We don’t comprehend the physical tasks of killing the lamb and eating it inside the house and placing the blood on the door and so on.
We have never done it. But spiritually, we could keep it (Exodus 12:1-51).
Similarly, how many Christians fully understand Pentecost? What it means and when it occurs?
Yet, despite our ignorance of the physical importance of it to the Jews, we could still honor it spiritually.
The Bible mentions a spectrum of fast-duration. It ranges from an evening to forty days and forty nights (2 Samuel 1:12 & Matthew 4:2).
Many Believers have done a one-day fast. How many have endured or even think of doing a forty-days and forty-nights fast?
Focus on your spiritual needs and what the Holy Ghost has laid on your heart to do. Follow Him!
If you could, request the day off from work to execute your biblical fast. Many employed persons have personal days off that they could utilize for this purpose.
But if you don’t, go to work while you are fasting. Remember, the biblical fast is a spiritual adaptation of the Jews physical one.
3). Exercise While Fasting?
Do you exercise while fasting? Again, the only valid authority of the biblical fast is the Lord God.
And He expresses Himself through the Holy Bible.
A biblical fast is for a Believer. It’s not for everyone. It is certainly not for the world.
There are certain activities or tasks that we minimize and maximize during fasting respectively. Minimize all physical tasks.
Don’t take walks and do not exercise. It is not wrong to do them but doing them blur the focus of your fasting.
The affliction of the soul is inextricably linked to a time of rest, a Sabbath (Leviticus 23:26-32).
The affliction of the soul is enough.
We don’t need to exercise and find pleasure in walks when the focus is to afflict the soul, (Isaiah 58:3).
Maintain your spiritual focus.
A biblical understanding of the permitted activities of Christian fasting should illuminate us concerning the dos and don’ts of a fast.
A better practice would be to preserve your energy to complete your fast. Because, if you declared that you were going on a fast and didn’t complete it that is sin in you.
“Living Soul” explains this in detail.
Many people desire to connect with nature as they execute their fasts. They fast in the mountains.
Some sit by a body of water. Many would sit by a pond, river, or lake. Some even go by the seaside.
The people of the World could conduct their fasting however they desire. But we should live our lives, including fasting, according to the true Word of God!
4). Biblical Fast – Connect with Nature While Fasting?
This practice is neither biblical nor wrong. But is it necessary? However, if you feel so inclined it’s entirely up to you. However, Christians don’t need to connect with nature while fasting. But we do need to connect with the Maker and the sustainer of nature, the Lord God, by fasting according to His words.
The world misunderstands the reason for isolation. Many people, of the Bible, who fasted in deserts or mountains or on an island weren’t attempting to bond with nature. In fact, they were fulfilling a crucial component of every biblical fast: the affliction of the soul.
5). Is Fasting Good for Our Health?
The Bible is silent on whether a Believer should pursue physical preparations or not before fasting. Despite the lack of direct instructions the examples speak verbosely about prior physical preparation before a biblical fast. They are silent! While many could perceive this as a common-sense approach, but common sense and obedience differ.
It’s perfectly biblical and ok to enter into a fast without prior physical preparation. And this is especially true for short fasts, seventy-two hours or less (three-day-fast). A biblical fast requires no prior physical preparation.
A Believer could decide this morning that he or she will fast today and commence the fast. Sometimes the reason for the fast comes upon us suddenly. Other times we may have prior knowledge but not always.
Finding Pleasure While Fasting?
In a biblical fast, the person fasting shouldn’t be having fun and finding pleasure, (Isaiah 58:3). King David shows us how to afflict the soul overnight. He made no prior physical preparations for his fast.
“David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth,” (2 Samuel 12:16).
Saul of Tarsus did a three-day biblical fast without any prior physical preparations. That fast changed his life. He was a better and a different person after he completed it.
“And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, … and he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink”, (Acts 9:8-9).
After the death of Job’s ten children, he enters into a long fast. He fasted for seven days and seven nights. He made no physical preparations for his fast beforehand. This was an unforeseen circumstance, Job 2:13.
Note the stance of Saul, David, and Job, they all got up from the ground. They “arose from the earth”. A posture of submission and humility.
Physical Vs. Spiritual Benefits
This observation will not sit well with many unbelievers. Their benefits are natural, but ours are first spiritual, then physical. We don’t major on the physical benefits of biblical fasting but on the spiritual. They are for this life and the next. And physical preparations have little or no effect on your biblical fast. Follow your Bible.
Moses made no physical preparations for either of his two forty-day fasts; neither did King David; nor did persecutor Saul, nor Jesus. As a matter of personal observation, if you survive the first twenty-four hours of your fast you could finish it. They are the most challenging to survive.
After the first twenty-four hours of your biblical fast, all the physical preparations, like drinking lots of fluids, are of no use. After that time, of not eating or drinking, your body has utilized all that effort.
6). Biblical Fasting & Weight Loss
These days fasting is a popular weight management practice. Although it is a byproduct of biblical fasting it should never be the motive to do one. A biblical fast emphasizes the spiritual. It is not a weight-loss tool.
David speaking of Christ testifies:
“My knees are weak through fasting; and my flesh faileth of fatness,”(Psalm 109:24).
He was lean because of frequent fasting.
All my life I have maintained a lean physique. This may be a result of a lifestyle of much biblical fasting. But the thought of this physical result never once crossed my mind.
7). Could Any Believer Fast?
Even Christians who are diabetic could do biblical fasts if they want to. Most diabetics, that I know, could go for four hours without food and drink. However, seeing that I’m not a doctor if you are diabetic and a Believer in Jesus Christ, do this: talk with your doctor. Ask your medical practitioner how long you could go without food or drink and still be safe being diabetic. If the answer is four to six hours, then do a four-hour fast. Then break it and take your medications. Every Believer could participate in biblical fasting.
A biblical fast, by its definition, disallows eating and drinking in any form. If you eat or drink you break the fast. Therefore, it is any duration, of time, that a Christian sets aside to seek, to mourn, and to approach God, with prayers and supplications afflicting the soul for a specific purpose (Mark 1:13 & Luke 4:2).
Biblical Fasting – According to the Bible
Similarly, it excludes tasks like exercise because of the nature of activities that constitute a biblical fast. We cannot ensure that a fast is an acceptable day to the Lord and eat or drink. And if we do, then we have not afflicted our souls. How can we get near to the Lord or even seek Him while in disobedience?
The one thing the Lord requires of us is obedience. Obey His Word. And if we eat and exercise and not afflict our souls, how can our biblical fast become a day that the Lord has chosen, when we have disobeyed Him? Allow your fast to conform to the Word of God not confront it! Fast according to the Bible.
The disciples of Jesus Christ do biblical fasting. The world knows nothing about it. They don’t understand it and they never will. It’s spiritual! They fast often but die young from every infirmity and disease. They don’t know nor do they realize the power biblical fasting unleashes on a Believer. By it we develop phenomenal faith in God. Through it, we live above sickness and diseases. If you need additional information on this read Living Soul.
In concluding, a biblical fast is one that the Bible dictates. Its duration varies based on your personal and spiritual needs. Consequently, it should include biblical components. The affliction of the soul excludes exercise or walks.
On the other hand, the Bible is silent regarding previous physical preparations for a biblical fast. That does mean its wrong. But not preparing shouldn’t be a reason not to fast. From a physical point of view, there is no harm in preparing; however, spiritually, it is of little or no value to you on a biblical fast. The two never exist together.
A biblical fast is not a weight-loss management tool. By its nature, it will result in weight loss, but that should never be the focus of your fast. It’s really a bonus of the biblical fast.
Finally, every Believer in Jesus our Christ could undertake a biblical fast. Even if you have medical conditions. The great faith in God, through Jesus Christ, that it will generate in you, will provide you with the resurrection power of Jesus Christ to overcome and live above your illness. Read to learn the reason and how in detail.
Only Believers and those who have done biblical fasts should teach you to fast. The world could do whatever it desires during fasting, but the Bible should guide the church. Whose report will you believe?
What do you think? How should the church conduct a biblical fast?
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