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. There isn’t only one “right” way to fast; the Bible teaches us different ways to fast. Equipping Godly Women shares four different types of fasts shown to us in the Bible.
1. Total Fast:
A total fast is the most extreme form of fasting in the Bible, and it involves having no food or water for a period of time. Some of the most notable instances of total fasting in the Bible of this nature include Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 34:28, Deuteronomy 9:9), Esther and the Jewish people before she met with the king (Esther 4:16), and Saul (Paul) when he encountered Christ (Acts 9:9). Moses’ experience was clearly supernatural.
This approach to fasting is one of the most difficult to follow because it deprives you of your most basic needs. While biblical fasting is a way to trust God’s provision, you still want to approach it wisely and safely!
2. Partial Fast:
A partial fast is similar to a total fast in that it involves abstaining from food or drink but isn’t as strict. A common way to fast is to avoid food but still drink water. You might also abstain from certain types of food or drink, like meat, alcohol, or sugar, or do something like a liquid fast or a whole food-only fast. While there is some debate about this, most of the examples of fasting in the Bible involve fasting from food. Total fasting from both water and food can be inferred when the text explicitly says so. Otherwise, it’s assumed that the people involved were drinking water during the fast.
Another example of partial fasting in the Bible is when Daniel requested to have only vegetables and water (Daniel 1:8–16). The Daniel Fast is a popular modern adaptation of these Scriptures on fasting.
3. Abstinence Fasting:
Fasting in the Bible doesn’t have to be just from food or drink; it can also be abstinence from certain activities or substances. Examples of this type of fasting include not using lotion (Daniel 10:3) and avoiding sex (Exodus 19:15, 1 Corinthians 7:5). In today’s time, it can also mean abstaining from social media use.
This is a popular approach to Christian fasting today. While there aren’t many examples in the Bible, it is still a practical way to deny yourself and draw nearer to God. You can fast from things like social media, spending, or anything you find pleasurable.
4. Corporate Fast:
Corporate fasting is any kind of fast with a group. This practice could be something like Lent, which is observed worldwide, or with your local church or small group.
Examples of corporate fasting in the Bible include the Israelites when Moses was on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19:15), the Jewish people when they were praying for Esther (Esther 4:16), Daniel together with his friends (Daniel 1), and the remnant of God’s people when they returned to Jerusalem (Ezra 8:21).
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.