MEMORY VERSE: “And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:” Daniel 9:3
BIBLE PASSAGE: Daniel 10: 2-3
Fasting, in the Bible, is the total abstinence from pleasure or the voluntary giving up of legitimate activities for a set time for the purpose of devoting oneself to seeking God. While there are many ways believers could fas too often, the focus is on the abstinence from food. In this lesson we shall examine different types of biblical fasting, basic reasons for fasting and good practices to adopt.
1. TYPES OF FASTS IN THE BIBLE
2. GOOD FASTING PRACTICES
1. TYPES OF FASTS IN THE BIBLE
1. Food fast – This is abstinence from food/drinks. It may take the form of:
i Regular fast: This is done by abstaining from all foods, both solid and liquid 2 Chron. 20:3. The fast is usually broken daily or periodically Jer. 36:6-8.
Ii. Partial fast. This is inspired by Prophet Daniel. All meat and animal products are disallowed. The Daniel Fast involves feeding only on vegetables, legumes, whole grains, seeds, and water. These guidelines are based on Daniel’s request of “nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink” Dan. 1:8-14.
iiiAbsolute or full fast: Where no food or water is consumed Est. 4:16 Acts 27:33. For instance, Moses, Elijah, and the Lord Jesus Christ did! forty-day absolute fast Deut. 9:9; 1Kgs. 19:7-8; Lk. 4:2.
2. Sexual intimacy fast – The Bible also refers to an intentional refraining from sexual intimacy among married couples by mutual agreement to allow them focus on God Ex. 19:15. Married couples can mutually agree to abstain from sex for a short period of time to devote themselves to prayers 1 Cor. 7:5.
3. ‘Pleasure’ fast – Another way is to confine or isolate oneself from
people and pleasurable things to a secluded place. While there, focus is on worship, studying the Bible and praying to God for a purpose Lk. 2:36-37; 5:16. Time alone with God requires discipline and avoiding distractions.
GOOD FASTING PRACTICES
Fasting is far more about focus on God than abstinence from food or other things that give pleasure Zech.7:5. Also, people fast for various reasons. Some for spiritual strength Isa. 40:30-31, supernatural revelation, wisdom and understanding Ezr. 8:21; Dan. 9:22, supernatural breakthrough Zech. 8:19 repentance from sinful ways Joel 2:12-13; Dan. 9:3-5, spiritual hunger, and demonstration of love for God’s people and burden for souls 2 Cor. 11:27-28; Matt. 5:6 and sharing with the poor and destruction of wicked works, among others Isa. 58:6-7.
Believers should follow these good practices while fasting. For instance, fasting should be limited to a set time and for a clear purpose 1 Cor. 7:5; Est. 4:16. It is neither intended to punish the body nor a dieting method Isa. 58:5 but to redirect attention to God. It is a period to give up self- indulging activities for a deeper fellowship with God Matt. 4:1-2. Anyone can fast, but some may not be able to fast from food for health reasons or their current medical conditions. However, everyone can temporarily give up something to draw closer to God Ex.19:15. Biblical fast is to be done in a spirit of humility and joyfulness Matt. 6:16-18. It should not be to manipulate God or do evil Isa. 58:4a; Acts 23:21. In concluding ‘absolute and long fasts’, it is strongly recommended that you consume warm liquids, rather than carbonated drinks. This should also be taken slowly to allow the body to get used once again to digesting food.
Ask God for wisdom Jam. 1:5 as regards how and for how long and what purpose He wants you to fast.