For thousands of years, Christians have been fasting and abstaining from food for spiritual purposes such as breaking generational curses, fighting spiritual warfare, clarity, and answered prayers. For Christians, we do fasts in order to feel closer to God. It’s about denying your flesh, surrendering yourself to God, and dwelling in His presence. Here is why Christians need to fast, according to God’s word.
What is Fasting?
Fasting seems rare today, but it was a common practice during Jesus’ time. John the Baptist, the disciples, and the Pharisees, who opposed Jesus, regularly fasted. In Jesus’ sermon on the Mount, He provided instructions on fasting, emphasising the importance of not making a public display of it, unlike others in their society (Matthew 6:16–18). While Jesus didn’t explicitly command fasting, He did expect His followers to do it.
Now, what is fasting? Fasting means putting God first and being persistent in prayer. Fasting is abstaining from food or certain pleasures, such as social media, for a period of time as a way to draw closer to God. It is a spiritual discipline that helps us focus on prayer, reflection, and our relationship with God. Christians often fast to seek guidance, repentance, or to deepen their spiritual connection. Fasting is not about punishment but a way to create a space for spiritual growth and self-discipline. In Matthew, Jesus gives a few instructions on how to fast, which will also be further explained next. Note when Jesus says “when…” and not if we fast.
16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 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 (NIV)
How Do I Fast?
Fasting is abstaining from food and worldly pleasures. But how do you go about it? As you deepen your relationship with Christ, you may feel called to temporarily give up something. Typically, this involves food or specific types of it. Fasting can mean not eating for a few days, depending on the type of fast, or disconnecting from social media, which might be preventing you from reading the Word or praying. As mentioned earlier, fasting is a way of surrendering yourself to God and dedicating more time to Him.
If you are a beginner, you can give up eating from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and you may only drink water during this period. Doing it with friends in the faith can help. During this time, you are to continuously pray, read God’s word, and stay off of social media and any other distractions. You can also listen to worship music. It’s advised to write down three things you are trusting God for and pray about them.
Jesus teaches us to maintain the privacy of our fasts. Therefore, it’s important not to share this practice with others, as it should remain a personal matter between you and God unless you are participating in a corporate fast, which is fasting with a group. Additionally, it’s advised not to appear as if you are fasting; instead, maintain a regular and clean appearance.
Why Do I Need To Fast?
Are you battling with a specific sin you just cannot stop doing? If you feel like your prayers aren’t ‘working’ well, fasting may be another option. An interesting fact is that Matthew 17:21 is removed from most Bibles. The scripture directly tells us that without praying and fasting, we cannot overcome things. Imagine that most of us do not win spiritual battles because we do not know how to. But now you know:
“However, this kind goes not out but by prayer and fasting.”Matthew 17:21 (KJV)
We fast because we want to give our full attention to God. We fast to win battles, which prayer and worship cannot do. And we fast to deny our flesh and fully immerse ourselves in God’s presence. It’ll all be about God when you fast, nothing else. Fasting brings us help in times of need (Psalm 50:15), reveals what we are doing wrong (Joshua 7:6–11), shows genuine repentance (Jonah 3:5), and often leads to victory over sin. Fasting brought revival to Nineveh (Jonah 3:4–10) and preservation and revival to Esther’s nation (Esther 4:13–17). There are so many other stories of what fasting did for God’s people.
I hope this served as valuable information about fasting. If you have any questions or queries, please let me know! Read more lifestyle-related content here.