The Hebrew word for fasting is Soowm
which means, to cover the
The Greek word for fasting is Nesteuo
which means not to eat.
Esteuo means to
There are more books on the physical aspect by
food reformists than on the spiritual aspect by
Christian writers. Fasting is the voluntary refusal
of food for various purposes like, fighting for
justice (Hunger strike), losing fats in the body
(Dieting), cleansing the body system (Medical)
and unto the Lord (Spiritual). Fasting for spiritual
purposes has become a neglected discipline in
the Church today. Fasting may provide us with
a key to unlock doors where other keys have failed;
a window opening up new horizons in the unseen
world, a mighty spiritual weapon God has provided
for the pulling down of strongholds to let the
oppressed go free and to break every yoke. Fasting
is not a substitute to repentance, forgiveness,
prayer, faith or any other Christian discipline,
but a supplement to make the Christian disciplines
more effective and powerful. Our fasting should
not result in producing the works of the flesh,
but in producing the fruit of the Spirit.
Is 58:4-5 Behold,
you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit
with wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day
will not make your voice to be heard on high.
Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a man
to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head
like a rush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes
under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day
acceptable to the LORD?
Your fasting has to be unto the Lord, offered
unto Him, it must be sanctified, set apart, different
from the rest. First of all you must repent, forgive,
surrender, make Jesus your Lord and walk in faith.
Then when you undertake a fast, you must pray
at the time you skip your meal, offering your
meal to the Lord. This is called sanctifying the
fast, a spiritual value is added to your fast,
your fasting is unto the Lord and it is powerful.
This is what makes it different from the rest
of the fasts.
Is 58:6 "Is not
this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds
of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free, and to break every
We are all engaged in a war that is spiritual
in nature, hence we need spiritual weapons in
the combat. Carnal weapons like guns, swords,
bombs etc. are of no benefit in a war that is
spiritual in nature. Fasting, is one such weapon
from the many that God has provided us, to break
II Cor 10:4 The weapons
of our warfare are not worldly but have divine
power to destroy strongholds.
To some, fasting and starving are synonymous
terms and they fear it will have harmful effects
on the body. They oppose fasting almost instinctively.
Why such attitudes to a practice that is so obviously
scriptural? In the Old Testament, Moses, Joshua,
David, Hannah, Esther, Elijah and in the New Testament,
Anna and the early Church fasted and prayed. Fasting
is a channel of power. It is one of the secrets
of the early Church that seems to be almost lost
Eph 5:29 For no man
ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes
it, as Christ does the Church,
Lk 2:36-37 And there
was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phan'u-el,
of the tribe of Asher; she was of a great age,
having lived with her husband seven years from
her virginity, and as a widow till she was eighty-four.
She did not depart from the temple, worshiping
with fasting and prayer night and day.
Acts 14:23 And when
they had appointed elders for them in every Church,
with prayer and fasting they committed them to
the Lord in whom they believed.
Acts 13:2-3 While
they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the
Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me
Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have
called them." Then after fasting and praying
their hands on them and sent them off.
PRIMARY PURPOSE : To humble
oneself in repentance. Other attitudes accompanied
with repentance are mourning, sack cloth and ashes.
The words "To humble oneself" is used
many times in the Bible and very often it means
Ps 69:10 When I humbled
my soul with fasting, it became my reproach.
Is 58:5 Is such the
fast that I choose, a day for a man to humble
himself? Is it to bow down his head like a rush,
and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will
you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to
Ps 35:13 But I, when
they were sick I wore sackcloth, I afflicted myself
with fasting. I prayed with head bowed on my bosom,
II Chr 7:14 If my
people who are called by my name humble themselves,
and pray and seek my face, and turn from their
wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and
will forgive their sin and heal their land.
Ezra 8:21 Then I proclaimed
a fast there, at the river Aha'va, that we might
humble ourselves before our God, to seek from
him a straight way for ourselves, our children,
and all our goods.
Israel fasted on the day of atonement
The law of Moses commanded that Israel fast on
the day of atonement, Yom Kippur (End of September
to beginning of October). The whole of Israel
fasted for 3500 years. It was the most sacred
day in the Jewish calendar. The atonement was
effective only for those people who accepted it
through fasting. Anyone who did not fast on that
day was to be cut off and was no longer to be
a member of God's people. God did His part of
atoning for their sins and the people had to do
their part of fasting. The essential nature of
fasting is renouncing the natural to invoke the
Lev 16:29-31 "And
it shall be a statute to you for ever that in
the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month,
you shall afflict yourselves, and shall do no
work, either the native or the stranger who sojourns
among you; for on this day shall atonement be
made for you, to cleanse you; from all your sins
you shall be clean before the LORD. It is a Sabbath
of solemn rest to you, and you shall afflict yourselves;
it is a statute for ever.
There are three important disciplines for a Christian
to note, of which Jesus talks about in Matthew's
gospel. The giving of alms, praying and fasting.
Jesus puts fasting as an equally important discipline
as alms giving and prayer. Fasting cannot be neglected
just as prayer and almsgiving cannot be neglected,
Jesus highlights the point that these disciplines
have to be followed secretly, made known only
to God and not to man.
Mt 6:1-18 "Beware
of practicing your piety before men in order to
be seen by them; for then you will have no reward
from your Father who is in heaven. "Thus,
when you give alms, sound
no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites
do in the synagogues and in the streets, that
they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you,
they have received their reward. But when
you give alms, do not
let your left hand know what your right hand is
doing, so that your alms may be in secret;
and your Father who sees in secret will reward
you. "And when you
pray, you must not
be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand
and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners,
that they may be seen by men. Truly, I
say to you, they have received their reward. But
when you pray, go
into your room and shut the door and pray to your
Father who is in secret; and your Father
who sees in secret will reward you. "And
in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the
Gentiles do; for they think that they will be
heard for their many words. Do not be like them,
for your Father knows what you need before you
ask him. Pray then like this: Our Father who art
in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive
us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors;
And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us
from evil. For if you forgive men their trespasses,
your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but
if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither
will your Father forgive your trespasses. "And
when you fast, do not
look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure
their faces that their fasting may be seen by
men. Truly, I say to you, they have received
their reward. But when
you fast, anoint your
head and wash your face, that your fasting may
not be seen by men but by your Father who is in
secret; and your Father who sees in secret
will reward you.
Is 58:8,9,11,12 Then
shall your light break
forth like the dawn, and your healing
shall spring up speedily; your righteousness
shall go before you, the glory
of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then
you shall call, and the LORD
will answer; you shall cry, and he will
say, Here I am. "If you take away from the
midst of you the yoke, the pointing of the finger,
and speaking wickedness, And the LORD will guide
you continually, and satisfy
your desire with good things, and make your bones
strong; and you shall be like a watered
garden, like a spring of water, whose
waters fail not. And your ancient ruins
shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to dwell in.
In the above scripture God speaks about Ten blessings
of fasting :
1 Light breaking forth - Illumination or understanding.
4 Glory of the Lord.
5 Lord will answer - Answered prayer.
6 Guide you continually - Continual guidance.
8 Watered garden - Refreshing.
9 Waters fail not - Work that endures.
10 Rebuilt - Restoration.
The whole chapter of Isaiah 58 is on fasting
please read it prayerfully.
Fast ye and pray
Prayer is powerful and when coupled with a sacrifice
it becomes more powerful. Prayer coupled with
fasting is very powerful to combat forces of evil.
Mk 9:17-29 And one
of the multitude answered and said, "Master,
I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a
dumb spirit; And wheresoever he taketh him, he
teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with
his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy
disciples that they should cast him out; and they
could not." He answereth him, and saith,
"O faithless generation, how long shall I
be with you? How long shall I suffer you? Bring
him unto me." And they brought him unto him:
and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare
him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming.
And he asked his father, "How long is it
ago since this came unto him?" And he said,
"Of a child. And ofttimes it hath cast him
into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy
him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion
on us, and help us." Jesus said unto him,
"If thou canst believe, all things are possible
to him that believeth." And straightway the
father of the child cried out, and said with tears,
"Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief."
When Jesus saw that the people came running together,
he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, "Thou
dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out
of him, and enter no more into him." And
the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came
out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that
many said, "He is dead." But Jesus took
him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose.
And when he was come into the house, his disciples
asked him privately, Why could not we cast him
out? And he said unto them, "This kind can
come forth by nothing, but by prayer
and fasting." (KJV)
Watch ye and pray
Sacrificing your sleep and praying is very powerful
and recommended by Jesus
Mt 26:41 "Watch
and pray that you may not enter into temptation;
the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is
Lk 21:36 "But
watch at all times, praying that you may have
strength to escape all these things that will
take place, and to stand before the Son of man."
Mk 13:33 Take heed,
watch; for you do not know when the time will
Col 4:2 Continue steadfastly
in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving;
II Cor 6:4-7 But as
servants of God we commend ourselves in every
way: through great endurance, in afflictions,
hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments,
tumults, labors, watching, hunger; by purity,
knowledge, forbearance, kindness, the Holy Spirit,
genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of
God; with the weapons of righteousness for the
right hand and for the left;
Abstaining from sex and pray
Scripture talks about abstaining from sex and
praying for married couples.
I Cor 7:5 Do not refuse
one another except perhaps by agreement for a
season, that you may devote yourselves to prayer;
but then come together again, lest Satan tempt
you through lack of self-control.
Fasting helps us in the following ways:
To humble ourselves before God.
To draw near to God.
To understand God's Word.
To find God's will and receive direction in your
life Ezra 8:21
To receive Healing Is 58:8
To receive Deliverance Mk
To receive God's intervention in some particular
crisis II Chron 20:2-4
To Intercede and pray on behalf of others.
Skipping one meal is roughly a 12 hour fast.
Skipping two meals consecutively is roughly a
24 hour fast
Skipping three meals consecutively is roughly
a 36 hour fast.
God is a rewarder of them that diligently seek
Him. Fasting, watching, abstaining from sex and
doing any form of sacrifice is diligently seeking
Heb 11:6 And without
faith it is impossible to please him. For whoever
would draw near to God must believe that he exists
and that he rewards those who seek him.
Before Jesus entered into His public ministry,
He went through two critical experiences, first
the Holy Spirit descended on Him at His Baptism
and secondly He was led into the wilderness to
fast for forty days. After His Baptism, the Bible
says Jesus returned from the Jordan full of the
Holy Spirit and Jesus returned from the wilderness
in the power of the Spirit. Fasting brings the
power of the Spirit.
Lk 4:1 And Jesus, full
of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan,
and was led by the Spirit
Lk 4:14 And Jesus returned
in the power of the Spirit into Galilee, and a
report concerning him went out through all the
TYPES OF FAST
Abstaining from eating as well as drinking. Normally
this was never done for more than 3 days, because
any longer period might prove injurious to the
physical body. Desperate situations require desperate
measures. Absolute fasts are of supernatural character
and God inspired. Such a fast is called an Esther
fast. Such fasts must be an inspiration from God
and not a temptation from the enemy. You cannot
just imitate someone in such a fast, for it could
lead to serious physical problems.
Ezra 10:6 Then Ezra
withdrew from before the house of God, and went
to the chamber of Jehoha'nan the son of Eli'ashib,
where he spent the night, neither eating bread
nor drinking water; for he was mourning over the
faithlessness of the exiles.
Queen Esther instructed Mordecai to neither eat
nor drink for three days and nights.
Esth 4:16 "Go,
gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold
a fast on my behalf, and neither eat nor drink
for three days, night or day. I and my maids will
also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king,
though it is against the law; and if I perish,
When Saul was on his way to Damascus to persecute
Christians, he encountered the Lord and he was
struck blind and it is said that when he reached
Damascus he neither ate nor drank for three days.
Acts 9:9 And for three
days he was without sight, and neither ate nor
It is eating partially, avoiding delicacies not
eating what you like. It is beneficial for all
especially for those who do not keep good health
and who cannot skip an entire meal. people suffering
from diabetes, tuberculosis and other disease.
Such a fast is called a Daniel fast.
Dan 10:2-3 In those
days I, Daniel, was mourning for three weeks.
I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my
mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the
full three weeks.
Abstaining from all food, solid or liquid but
not from water for 40 days. You may wonder why
such a fast is called a normal fast. Medical doctors
say that a normal healthy man or woman can comfortably
go without food for forty days and forty nights
and during this time of fast the body lives on
the fat stored. Normally in a healthy human being
it takes forty days to use up the fat. If any
one extends this fast beyond forty days it is
dangerous, for the human body will now live on
the living tissues and degeneration of tissues
will take place and this is starvation and not
fasting. During a fast the body eliminates toxins,
that is why a lot of people fast regularly on
week ends for medical reasons.
When a person fasts for forty days, all the toxins
in his body are eliminated in such a manner, that
his breath smells like the breath of a baby, his
breath smells sweet. Such fasts are of supernatural
character and are to be undertaken only under
the inspiration of the Holy Spirit confirmed by
your spiritual director. During such fasts much
time has to be spent in Prayer, Word of God and
Rest. One has to drink plenty of fresh water,
water does not break your fast. Water with a little
lime juice and a dash of honey has a tremendous
cleansing effect on the body.
Prior to such fasts one has to see that the bowels
are completely evacuated and clean, this can be
achieved by taking an enema and must not be neglected,
if you neglect evacuation of the bowels prior
to a fast, the contents of the bowels will not
be evacuated naturally, since there is no intake
of food, hence the contents of the bowels will
decay within throughout the entire course of the
fast causing poisoning, disease and death.
During a fast of this nature with no intake of
food for long periods of time the stomach shrinks
in size, So breaking a long fast has to be done
gradually by taking fruit juices or liquid foods
for a few days followed by semi solid foods for
another few days and then resuming to normal foods.
Be careful to see that the stomach comes to normal
size gradually and not suddenly. Breaking a fast
of this nature suddenly by stuffing food would
be dangerous and therefore to be avoided.
Mt 4:2 And he fasted
forty days and forty nights, and afterward he
Lk 4:2 For forty days
in the wilderness, tempted by the devil. And he
ate nothing in those days; and when they were
ended, he was hungry.
Satan tempted Him to eat, not to drink. Infact
the human body cannot survive 40 days without
Examples of normal fasts in the Bible.
Moses - Deut 9:9,18, Ex 34:28
- no food and water
Joshua - Ex 24:13-18, 32:15-17
Elijah - I Kings 19:8
Jesus - Mt 4:2, Lk 4:2
Sabbath and Fasting
To seek the Lord on the Sabbath day. Fasting on
the Sabbath day is scriptural.
Is 58:13-14 "If
you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from
doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the
Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the LORD
honorable; if you honor it, not going your own
ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking
idly; then you shall take delight in the LORD,
and I will make you ride upon the heights of the
earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob
your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken."
God called the Israelites to gather together
on certain occasions. A day when everyone was
to stop all their own activities and take time
to seek God collectively.
Joel 1:14 Sanctify
a fast, call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders
and all the inhabitants of the land to the house
of the LORD your God; and cry to the LORD.
Joel 2:15-16 Blow
the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn
assembly; gather the people. Sanctify the congregation;
assemble the elders; gather the children, even
nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his
room, and the bride her chamber.
II Chr 20:3-4 Then
Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the
LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.
And Judah assembled to seek help from the LORD;
from all the cities of Judah they came to seek
The responsibility to humble ourselves is upon
us, we cannot transfer that responsibility to
Humble like a child
Mt 18:4 Whoever humbles
himself like this child, he is the greatest in
the kingdom of heaven.
Humbles himself will be exalted
Mt 23:12 Whoever exalts
himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself
will be exalted.
Humble yourselves before the Lord and
He will exalt you.
James 4:10 Humble yourselves
before the Lord and he will exalt you.
I Pt 5:6 Humble yourselves
therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in
due time he may exalt you.
Calling for all Leaders
There is a desperate need for men of God in leadership
to lead God's people back to His pattern of collective
prayer and fasting, to seek God's intervention
on behalf of His people.
Joel 1:13 -14 Gird
on sackcloth and lament, O priests, wail, O ministers
of the altar. Go in, pass the night in sackcloth,
O ministers of my God! Because cereal offering
and drink offering are withheld from the house
of your God. Sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly.
Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the
land to the house of the LORD your God; and cry
to the LORD.
Joel 2:15 -17 Blow
the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn
assembly; gather the people. Sanctify the congregation;
assemble the elders; gather the children, even
nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his
room, and the bride her chamber. Between the vestibule
and the altar let the priests, the ministers of
the LORD, weep and say, "Spare thy people,
O LORD, and make not thy heritage a reproach,
a byword among the nations. Why should they say
among the peoples, 'Where is their God?"