What is prayer and fasting?

Prayer and Fasting – A Definition

Biblical fasting is going without food in order to focus on prayer and fellowship with God. The Hebrew word tsom and the Greek word nesteia for “fasting” means “to voluntarily abstain from food.” Fasting is the greatest spiritual discipline for seeking God’s intervention. Combined with prayer, they make up the most powerful weapon for spiritual warfare, deliverance, and victorious Christian living.

Reasons for Fasting

The Bible suggests several reasons for fasting.

  • To demonstrate humility before our sovereign God. 2 Chronicles 7:14
  • To seek God’s presence more fully.  Jeremiah 29:13
  • To demonstrate our sincerity to God concerning something we truly desire. Ezra 8:21-31
  • To know God’s will. Acts 13:1-3
  • To develop Godly discipline. 1 Corinthians 9:27
  • To set Godly priorities in our life. Matthew 6:33
  • To experience revival. Joel 2:12-13

Word of Caution

Since biblical fasting is the abstinence of food, it is not wise for people with certain health limitations to participate. The following should refrain:

  • Pregnant and nursing mothers
  • Children and Teenagers
  • Senior Adults
  • People who are recovering from illness, injury, or surgery
  • People who are highly underweight
  • People who have diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, and other chronic health problems.

Since many of our church body would fall into these categories, an option will be discussed later that will enable these to participate.

Types of Fasts

The Bible describes several ways to fast.

  • Regular Fast – a fast that refrains from food while still drinking water or juice for a specific time. When Jesus fasted in the desert for forty days, the Bible says Jesus was hungry but it mentioned nothing about Him being thirsty.
  • Partial Fast – a fast that omits a specific meal during the day or a specific type of food for a specific time. In Daniel 10:2-3, during a three week period of mourning, the prophet Daniel did not eat meat or choice foods.
  • Full Fast – a fast that refrains from food and drink for a specific time. Acts 9:9 describes when Paul went on a full fast where he did not eat or drink for three days following his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. It is recommended that this type of fast be done with extreme caution and not for an extended period of time.

Another fast has been created to accommodate those with certain health limitations.

  • Targeted Fast – while food or drink is not involved one who seeks to fast can eliminate other necessities or personal interests from their life for a specific time. Things such as, television, movies, internet (Facebook), cell phone, sporting activities, hobbies, or reduced amounts of sleep are avoided.

Beginning and Breaking a Fast

If you are fasting for the first time, you might begin by missing a meal or two leading up to your specific fast. Begin by refraining from solid foods, but drink liquids, especially water since it is a purifier. Breaking the fast may require as much discipline as beginning it. End your fast with juice for your first meal or first day(s) depending on the degree and duration of your fast. Gradually introduce small amounts of digestible foods such as yogurt, soup, fresh fruits, and cooked vegetables.

 Prayer during the Fast

During the fast, set aside specific and significant times to worship and seek the Lord. Plan where you will be, so your time will be unhurried and conducive to enjoying the presence of the Lord. Each day, pray for yourself and our church. After you leave your quiet place each day, remain in a spirit of prayer “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)