Fasting Guidelines

Fasting has become popular in recent decades but it is important to understand why we fast. The following is a general overview of the biblical precent and guidelines for wise fasting. We have taken this from TheCALL’s website as it is an excellent resource, if you would like to see the rest of their site, click here.

The practice of regular fasting as normal Christian behavior was taught by Jesus (Matthew 6:16 and 9:15), exercised by the early Church (Acts 13:2), and has been the regular discipline of believers throughout Church history. The practice of fasting in Scripture usually includes, but is not limited to, abstinence from food (Daniel 10:3) and may be engaged in for varying durations; typically for no more than a few days at a time. Abstaining from all food for extended periods of time is biblical, but was rare and unusual in Scripture (Exodus 34:28, 1 Kings 19:5-8, Luke 4:2), and thus should never be undertaken without counsel and appropriate supervision. The same standard applies to an absolute fast, or Esther Fast, of any duration (Esther 4:16). The maximum length of adult fast that can be supported biblically is fourty days without food for a male adult in good health. The bible never speaks of children engaging in fasting for this duration or at this intensity.

Almost every major biblical leader fasted at one time or another. They knew the power and importance of this practice. We should follow their example and the example of church leaders throughout history who had a lifestyle of fasting.

Moses Fasted.

Moses was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. – Exodus 34:28

Elijah Fasted.

So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. – 1 Kings 19:8

Ezra Fasted.

Then Ezra withdrew from before the house of God and went to the room of Jehohanan son of Eliashib. While he was there, he ate no food and drank no water, because he continued to mourn over the unfaithfulness of the exiles. – Ezra 10:6

Daniel Fasted.

I ate no choice food, no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over. – Daniel 10:3

Esther and Mordechai Fasted.

Fasting is continued in the New Testament.

Anna Fasted.

She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. – Luke 2:37

Cornelius Fasted.

And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing. – Acts 10:30 .

Early Church Leaders Fasted.

While we 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” – Acts 13:2

Paul Fasted.

For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything. – Acts 9:9 He never forgot the lesson of prayer and fasting and later told the Corinthians in his second letter that he had been “in fasting often” – 2 Corinthians 11:27 .

Most important of all to us is that Jesus fasted.

And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being fourty days tempted by the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing; and when they were ended, he afterwards hungered. – Luke 4:1-2

If you are looking for more teaching on prayer and fasting, we highly recommend reading Derek Prince’s book Shifting History Through Prayer and Fasting.