This Bible Study on What is fasting according to the Bible will give you an explanation about the meaning of fasting, how to fast correctly, and Why we should fast?
What is fasting?
First, the word fasting comes from the Greek “nestheia” which means “not to eat” or “to abstain from food. ” Generally speaking, fasting consists of abstaining from eating food for a full or part-time period.
A more spiritual meaning about fasting is that it can be defined as a discipline exercised by a Christian to strengthen his spirit, departing from daily routines and eating food, to spend that time seeking God in prayer and considering his sin.
Fasting is a time of abstinence where the pain of hunger heightens the feeling of penance and reminds us of our weakness and dependence on God. It is a special time where we seek God’s will in special situations or simply to pray and meditate on his word.
According to the Bible, this practice generally lasted one day (until evening), but fasts that lasted three days, seven days, twenty-one days, and forty days are also cited.
Why fast according to the Bible?
we find In the Bible that people prayed for various reasons. Therefore, here are seven reasons why many people fasted in the Bible:
Fasting to be spiritually attentive to temptation.
- Jesus was led to fast 40 days ( Matthew 4:2 ).
Fasting to know the Will of God on a particular matter.
- The Israelites fasted for direction in battle ( Judges 20:26 ).
- Paul and Barnabas fasted before choosing the elders of the Church ( Acts 14:23 ).
Fast to show repentance.
- The Israelites fasted and repented, they voted false gods ( 1 Samuel 7:6 ).
- David fasted and repented of his sin ( 2 Samuel 12:16, 21-23 ).
- After hearing God’s word, Israel fasted and confessed its sins ( Nehemiah 9:1-3 ).
- Daniel fasted and repented for himself and his people ( Daniel 9:3 ).
- Joel proclaimed fasting in the face of God’s punishment ( Joel 1:14; 2:12-15 ).
- The men of Nineveh repented by fasting ( Jonah 3:5 ).
Fasting for the work of God.
- Nehemiah fasted for the condition of Jerusalem ( Nehemiah 1:4 ).
Fast for God’s Protection.
- Jehoshaphat and Judah fasted for protection in the Battle ( 2 Chronicles 20:3 ).
- Ezra and the people fasted for their journey ( Ezra 8:21-23 ).
- The Jews fasted upon hearing his death sentence and for Esther’s protection (Esther 13-16 ).
Fasting as part of worship.
- Hannah served God with fasting ( Luke 2:36-37 ).
- The early church ministered to God with fasting ( Acts 13:2-3 ).
Fast when there is sadness.
- Sadness over the death of Saul and his sons ( 1 Samuel 31:13; 2 Samuel 1:11-12 ).
- David fasted for his son ( 2 Samuel 12:16, 21-23 ).
- King Darius fasted when Daniel was in the lion’s den ( Daniel 6:18 ).
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How to fast correctly according to the Bible?
The Bible teaches us in the Old Testament that the Israelites fasted for the wrong reasons, they did it to debate and contend among themselves, and while fasting they oppressed their workers ( Is 58:3-4 ).
In the same way, in the New Testament, the Lord Jesus condemns the way of fasting of the Pharisees, since they only did it out of hypocrisy, to gain the approval of other people. Fasting was mandatory for the Jews on the Day of Atonement ( Lev 23:32 ), but the Pharisees fasted twice a week to impress others with their false “holiness.”
For this reason, the Lord Jesus recommended doing this act of sacrifice silently and sincerely, not to satisfy the craving for praise or to gain the approval of others ( Mt 6:16-18 ).
Therefore, a correct way to fast is for the Holy Spirit to be defining the fasting time and the purpose. But remember that this special moment is accompanied by prayer and the reading of the word.
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To conclude, the book of Isaiah chapter 58 teaches us more about true fasting that pleases God.
Is it not rather the fast that I chose, loosening the bonds of impiety, loosening the burdens of oppression, and letting the broken go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not that you break your bread with the hungry, and with the poor wandering shelters at home; that when you see the naked, you cover it, and do not hide from your brother? Then your light will rise like the dawn, and your salvation will soon be seen; and your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry, and he will say: Here I am. If you remove from your midst the yoke, the threatening finger, and the talk of vanity; and if you give your bread to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul, your light will rise in darkness, and your darkness will be like noon ( Isaiah 58:6-10 ).