Popular Question – How Often Should a Christian Fast?
As a born-again Believer you may be wondering, how often should a Christian fast? This is one of the most popular questions many Believers ask about fasting.
However, the Bible is silent on fasting frequency.
Christians could fast as often as their personal desires and circumstances would allow them to fast. There is no biblical mandate specifying fasting frequency.
Neither Jesus nor his Twelve Leaders nor the Church imposes any restrictions or issue any directives concerning how often or how long Christians should fast.
Seeing that the decision to embark on Christian fasting is personal; therefore, Believers are at liberty to choose and implement how often they fast.
They could fast as often as they desire whether it is for a few hours, an evening, overnight, a day, three days, seven days, twenty-one, or forty, they possess the power to choose how often they fast.
How Often Should We Fast?
Nevertheless, there is much to learn from biblical examples regarding how often should we fast?
From the biblical narrative, we observe people fasting which encompasses the spectrum from a few hours to forty days and forty nights.
We could learn much about fasting frequency from studying their fasting habits! Join me as I explore quite a few of them.
If you would rather watch the video of this Bible Study, click this link.
What Determines How Often Christians Fast?
Speaking from my personal experience, whenever I realize that my daily conversations are not aligned with the Bible, I treat that as one of my personal signs that I need to fast.
What do I mean by that? Later, when we study the motivation for fasting I shall address this in detail.
However, for now, suffice it to ask: are your conversations bordering on sin? Are you lying in them? Are you lusting (flirting)?
Would a person secretly overhearing them realize that you are a Christian? If the answer here is no, then I think, you need to fast.
The absence of direct instructions on how often should Christians fast is not crucial. This does not indicate that fasting frequency is of little or no significance spiritually.
As a matter of fact, quite the opposite.
When Should You Fast According to the Bible?
Purposes of Fasting in the Bible
- In Scriptures, people fasted to influence the Hand of God to prevent death or to demonstrate mourning after a person or people have died.
- However, death is not the only motivator for fasting. The Children of Israel fasted to indicate, not mourning, but something else, repentance!
- Queen Esther fasted to influence the outcome of a bold and unprecedented act that she planned to take.
- How often she fasted is a function of how long she fasted. And both these features are a result of why she fasted.
- What determined how often and how long Jesus; his twelve apostles; and the Church fasted?
Nevertheless, as a Christian, what will influence how often you fast and for how long?
How Often Do Christians Fast?
Christian fasting is not for everyone. Fasting, in general, and Christian fasting, in particular, is always a spiritual activity.
The world has adopted and modified it to suit its diverse preferences, but how often we fast is for us to decide.
Fasting is for Believers.
Seeing that the Lord expects us to fast, for there is no doubt about His expectations, then we must search the Scriptures to discover how often He desires us to fast (Matthew 6:16; Zechariah 7:5).
Why Is It Important to Fast?
Even why Christians fast is another topic altogether. As a result, today my focus is on when we fast.
How Often Should a Christian Fast According to the Bible?
The Bible provides examples of people who fasted for various periods of time.
How often they fasted ranged from a few hours to forty-days-and forty-nights.
And a medley of fasting frequencies in-between those extremes.
An Evening of Fasting
Even non-Christians are aware of the potency of Christian fasting.
A heathen king demonstrated how often and how long Christians should fast.
“Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of [music] brought before him: and his sleep went from him,” (Daniel 6:18).
King Darius fasted as often and as long as necessary to change Daniel’s situation and circumstances.
He “passed the night fasting” (Daniel 6:18). We could learn much from the king.
Can I Fast From 6am to 12pm?
Cornelius fasted for a few hours. We don’t know when he started his fast, but if it were for more than a day there would be no need for him to indicate the hour when he ended it. He fasted until the ninth hour. That’s a few hours of fasting.
“And 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 10:30).
When we consider, how often should a Christian fast we are compelled to consider also, how long should we fast? They are complementary.
How often we fast impact how long we fast and vice-versa.
Cornelius loved to fast and he fasted often and that changed his life!
But how long does the Bible say to fast?
Who Exemplifies How Often Should a Christian Fast and For How Long?
Take King David for example, he fasted a few hours overnight, which exemplifies how often Christians fast and for how long.
“David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth,” (2 Samuel 12:16).
How often David fasted? He fasted seven times over a week. How long did he fast? He fasted overnight for each of those seven nights.
The first night the child took ill, he fasted all that night, (2 Samuel 12:15-16). However, the child didn’t die until the seventh day.
“And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died. And the servants of David feared to tell him that the child was dead: for they said, Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spake unto him, and he would not hearken unto our voice: how will he then vex himself, if we tell him that the child is dead?” (2 Samuel 12:18).
How Long Do Christians Fast?
Even though the Bible didn’t tell us explicitly that he did, we deduced that David fasted every night for seven nights, because he never got up from the ground until the child died.
He only rose once, on the seventh day, (2 Samuel 12:20).
The Bible imposes no restrictions on the length of a Christian fast. Similarly, neither Jesus nor his twelve apostles gave any directives concerning the duration of a fast.
So, how long do Christians fast relates to how often they fast.
Similarly, the nation of Israel fasted for an evening after the death of Saul and his son Jonathan to mourn their passing.
“[Israel] mourned and wept, and fasted until even, for Saul, and for Jonathan his son, and for the people of the Lord, and for the house of Israel; because they were fallen by the sword,” (2 Samuel 1:12).https://dedicated-mover-7914.ck.page/30f083885c/index.js
A Day of Fasting – How Many Days Should Christians Fast?
Then there is a day of fasting. Or a day to fast to the Lord God. Neither the Bible nor Jesus Christ nor his disciples explicitly designates a specific day for Christians to fast.
However, the same is not true for the Jewish people. The Lord appoints specific days within a year that they should fast.
Without a doubt, the seventh month mentioned in the Scripture below refers to Yom Kippur.
“Speak unto all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying, When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me?” (Zechariah 7:5).
Isaiah explicitly tells us that there is a day of fasting (Isaiah 58:1-14).
Jews don’t dispute this; they honor them. It’s only Christians, and not all of us, who question the legitimacy and relevance of fasting.
Even the Pharisees fasted often but Jesus’ followers did not fast at all while he was physically on the earth with them.
Israel as a nation, similar to the Church of Jesus Christ, as a body of Believers, fasted to indicate their ceasing from sin, repentance, and a turning to God, (1 Samuel 7:1-6).
They Fasted For Three Days and Three Nights
The Children of Israel, “gathered together [at] Mizpeh, and drew water, and poured it out before the Lord, and fasted on that day, and said there, We have sinned against the Lord,” (1 Samuel 7:6).
In a daring and desperate move to prevent the total execution of her people and herself, Queen Esther called for a three-days and three-nights fasting.
How often she fasted shouldn’t be considered alone, because how long she fasted was equally important. Not to mention that her motive for fasting influenced both of those features.
Consequently, she instructed her people: “Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish,” (Esther 4:16).
So we see, fasting-frequency is important when discussed in tandem with other features of fasting.
Fast Twice Weekly?
The following Scripture summarizes the righteousness of the Pharisees.
“I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess”, (Luke 18:12).
In the scripture above, that religious person fasted twice weekly. Should you, as a Believer, fast twice each week?
However, Jesus Christ guided his disciples concerning this.
He told them: “except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven,” (Matthew 5:20).
How Long Should We Fast?
How does your righteousness measure against that of the Pharisees? How does your fasting compare?
Here you will recognize how often you fast as Christians matter.
Could you manage to fast two times every week? Is it even necessary? What are your thoughts on this?
In your life, what event determines how often you fast?
Similarly, how has your Christian life been? Have you seen many temptations, trials, and testings? Is your faith in God strong, as when you first believed, or is it declining?
If your answer is no, even to the last question, then, I think, and the scriptures will agree with me, that it is time for fasting.
Seven Days and Seven Nights of Fasting
The gravity of Job’s situation dictated how often he fasted and for how long. He had just lost his ten children; his wealth; his health; and his wife was acting up. Subsequently, he fasted for seven days and seven nights.
“So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great,” (Job 2:13).
He was in mourning.
Similarly, when the brave fighters of Jabeshgilead heard what happened to King Saul and his sons, it motivated them to act and to fast.
“And when all Jabeshgilead heard all that the Philistines had done to Saul, They arose, all the valiant men, and took away the body of Saul, and the bodies of his sons, and brought them to Jabesh, and buried their bones under the oak in Jabesh, and fasted seven days,” (1 Chronicles 10:11-12; 1 Samuel 31:13).
Again, the severity and the urgency of their situation dictated, how often they fasted and for how long.
Apostle Paul Fasting Frequency
How Often Did The Apostles Fast?
While Jesus Christ was on earth his followers never fasted. He fasted. Fasting only became effective and important to them after his ascension into heaven (Matthew 9:14; Luke 5:33).
Subsequently, the Twelve Apostles fasted frequently. Apostles Peter and Paul wrote of how often they fasted as Christians, (2 Corinthians 11:27).
Apostle Paul also confessed to fasting frequently. He writes that he endures many things including “weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often; in cold and nakedness”, (2 Corinthians 11:27).
Think of your need to fast as you would the imperative to service frequently your car. A car does not need servicing every week.
However, should you drive more frequently and visit far and many places you may need to service it earlier or more frequently within a specific time. It’s a similar thing with how frequently we fast as Christians.
How often we fast is based on our needs.
How Often Should a Christian Fast – on Demand?
A Christian should fast as often as is necessary to see the results he or she desires. Fast on-demand is a Christian way of life.
How often we fast is a function of how perceptive we are spiritually. Are you as sharp, spiritually, as you once were?
If no, you need a good old abstinence fast to get you back on track. Are you a servant to a bad habit? Break it through fasting, (Isaiah 58:6).
This feature, besides the specific fast days that the Lord God instructs Israel to keep, determines how often they fast. They call a fast, (a solemn assembly), or proclaim a fast as the need arises. They fast on-demand.
“And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah”, (2 Chronicles 20:3 & Jeremiah 36:9).
“Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly”, (Joel 1:14; 2:15).
Corporate or Group Fasting
Those scriptures relate to corporate or group fast. They specifically relate to Israel as a people. However, the church could adopt similar principles because spiritually, by faith, we are all children of Abraham, (Galatians 3:7).
What signals you to fast? Respond in the comments below.
Fasting to Get Closer to God?
So, now you know how often a Christian should fast according to the Bible. However, the purpose of fasting, in the Bible, is always a function of how often we fast.
Why is Fasting Important to God?
Many Christians claim that fasting brings us closer and connects us to God. But they have yet to furnish biblical proof of this.
Fasting is not important to God. He doesn’t need to fast. Fasting, any fasting, benefits us, NOT God!!!
Types of Christian Fasting?
In the Church, the body of Christ, do types of Christian fasting exist? And if they do, what are they?
Where in the Bible could we find them? In the Bible, there is only one type of fasting, abstainance.
Types of Christian fasting do not exist in the Holy Bible!
You are either fasting or not fasting. It’s a mutually exclusive event. We cannot be eating and fasting simultaneously!
How often Christians fast only became important after the ascension of Jesus Christ and after the advent of the Holy Ghost?
Before that, there was no need for the Church to fast because the Comforter was with them.
How often Christians fast is always a correlation between the length of the fast and the motive for the fast in the first place.
How Often Did Jesus Fast?
How often Jesus fasted wasn’t related to any of the previous reasons for fasting.
Avoid using the biblical fast in a loose manner. Never utilize “fasting” to describe rational mature behaviors which have no genesis in the concept of the biblical fast.
For example, people who decide to wisely use their time for other activities besides being on Social Media, entertainment, sexual indulgences, and being on their phones.
This practice creates “Types of Fasting” that are not biblical and redundant. Because all these things the informed Christian always abstains from doing while executing his or her Christian fasting.
How Many Times Did Jesus Fast?
Because he never fasted often because of sin and not to mourn for the demise of anyone.
He fasted to commence his ministry and to eventually fulfill the will of God.
Jesus fasted once for forty days and forty nights, as a man, to grow his faith in God.
Note too that Moses fasted forty days and forty nights twice to receive from the Lord God His important life-changing principles.
And should you fast for forty days and forty nights you won’t be the same person after, for it will radically change your life for the better?
In closing, note that in all these cases the weight of their fasting determines the frequency and the length of it.