What does the Bible say about Fasting?
The "key" of fasting to receive God's authority in His kingdom,
will be covered in this teaching. The Lord said He would give us the "keys to the
kingdom." What did He mean by that statement? Keys to the kingdom are actually keys
Matthew 16:19, "And I will give unto thee the keys of the
kingdom of heaven..."
KEYS OF AUTHORITY
When Jesus becomes our Lord, we are automatically transferred from the kingdom of
darkness into the kingdom of light. Colossians 1:12-13 says, "Giving
thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the
saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us
into the kingdom of his dear son." Now that we have a new king and live in a
new kingdom, we must understand "kingdom principles" if we are to be victorious
Christians. We cannot overcome until we have the keys that unlock the kingdom of heaven.
The Lord never meant for us to wait until we die to experience heaven but purposed for us
to bring heaven to the earth through the power of His Spirit. "Fear not,
little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke
12:32). We are unable to receive God's healing, provision and blessing if we do
not know the keys the Lord has given us to accomplish kingdom living. Keys represent
authority in the Kingdom of God, and authority is gained by using them. Fasting is only
one of the keys to the kingdom; others are prayer, praise, worship, intercession and
travail (a prayer burden from the Lord).
The key of fasting has nearly been lost to the modern church. It is also one that some
say was only for early day Christians. Looking closely at the Word of God, we find that
the Lord never did away with the principle of fasting, but it has been man who has
attempted to make it obsolete. Fasting is still a valid key that can be used today to
bring us into kingdom living. What is fasting? It is another means by which we can suffer
for the Lord, through the voluntary abstinence from eating. Biblical fasting is done to
bring spiritual results and is not simply for physical purposes. Doctors today are
discovering the physical benefits of this practice and have found that abstaining from
food (not water) for several days has a wonderful cleansing effect upon the body. Many
impurities are burned up within the body as it is denied food, thus clearing the mind, and
cleansing and healing the body. Even nature shows us that fasting is good medicine as we
automatically lose our appetites when sickness strikes. Many people in the world are
practicing fasting and finding it not only healthful, but even a wonderful way to lose
weight quickly. However, even though we may enjoy these benefits while fasting, the
Christian primarily fasts for spiritual purposes and not for health reasons. Obeying
spiritual principles can produce positive physical results, but they are added blessings.
Even people that are underweight who fast for spiritual purposes have been known to gain
weight after completing their fasts.
The Lord tells us in Matthew 6:16-18 that when we fast, we
are to do it unto the Lord. He doesn't say if we fast.
"Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance:
for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto
you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy
face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and
thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly." We can see
that our motives in fasting must be pure. We are not to do it in order to broadcast it,
but we are to do it as quietly and simply as possible so as not to attract attention to
ourselves. We are to appear to others as though we are not fasting. There are exceptions,
such as when we are fasting as a group for a specific thing. Then it must be announced so
that others can take part. We find this in Joel 1:14, "Sanctify ye a fast,
call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the
house of the Lord your God, and cry unto the Lord." The main thing the Lord
desires is that it be done unto Him and not as a show unto men. Our heart attitude must be
right to produce spiritual results.
Jesus, by fasting, set an example that we might follow in His steps. Matthew
4:1-4, "Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the
devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.
And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these
stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread
alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."
This Scripture shows us that the Lord drank water but did not eat food, for it says
that after forty days he was hungry. The normal fast is without food, drinking water only.
There are also absolute fasts recorded in the Bible. Upon Saul's conversion in Acts
9:9, he immediately went on an absolute fast for three days, having neither food
nor water. ("And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor
drink.") The body can go for a number of days without food, but cannot go
for long periods without water. Therefore, the Bible does not record any absolute fasts
that go beyond three days, except the account of Moses spending forty days and nights on
top of Mount Sinai (Horeb) without food or water.
This was a supernatural encounter with God and he was sustained during that
time, because otherwise he would have died as the human body cannot go without
water that long.
Exodus 34:28-29, "And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty
nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words
of the covenant, the ten commandments. And it came to pass, when Moses came down from
mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the
mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shown while he talked with him."
We can see that because Moses was in the literal presence of the Lord, it was that
presence that sustained him so he neither needed food nor water. This, of course, is an
The Lord did not set up any specific duration that we are to fast, but from His
teachings, we see that he did expect us to fast.
Luke 5:34-35, "And he said unto them, Can ye make the children of the
bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the
bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days."
Fasting can be done for one meal, one day, one month or for however long God leads. It
depends on how the Holy Spirit speaks to us. Shorter fasts are easier to endure until we
have built up our "spiritual muscles". A helpful book we recommend is Arthur
Wallis', God's Chosen Fast. It is a spiritual and practical guide to
fasting. A three day fast is most beneficial as a spiritual cleansing. An example of this
is Paul's being thrust into his fast upon conversion. After the three days of cleansing,
he received the Holy Spirit and his eyesight when Ananias laid hands on him (Acts
9:17-18). We also can be spiritually cleansed by fasting so that we receive more
of the Lord's Spirit and have our spiritual eyes opened to new dimensions. A three day
fast is also especially helpful in breaking any addictive habits.
These then are two reasons for fasting: We receive spiritual cleansing and our
spiritual eyes are opened, and we also obtain victory over the devil. When Jesus
encountered Satan, He was able to overcome Him because His fasting had given Him spiritual
strength. Isaiah 58:6 also gives us light on this purpose of fasting:
"Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo
the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?"
Many people believe that fasting is to move the hand of God, when in actuality it is to
make Satan turn loose of the things he is holding.
Fasting looses the bands of wickedness. When Jesus discussed the keys to the kingdom,
He told us to bind and loose. When we fast, we loose the bands of wickedness, undo the
heavy burdens, set the oppressed free, and break every yoke of the enemy. Fasting is an
important key to getting the victory over hard situations that do not seem to respond to
Fasting builds our faith. In fact, this is what Jesus meant when he spoke to the
disciples in Matthew 17:21 in answer to why they were not able to cast a
demon out of a child. He said, "Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer
and fasting." He was telling them if they wanted their faith to be at such a
level as to be able to cast out demons, then they must fast and pray for their faith to
Fasting also makes it easier for us to hear the voice of the Lord. We find an account
of this in Acts 13:2-3:
"As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate
me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted
and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away."
While fasting, the Holy Spirit spoke to them and gave them direction. We too can be
directed by the Lord if we seek Him through prayer and fasting.
Fasting and mourning are closely associated in the Bible. Two examples of this are
found in Ezra and Nehemiah.
Ezra 10:6, "Then Ezra rose up from before the house of God, and went into
the chamber of Johanan the son of Eliashib: and when he came thither, he did eat no bread,
nor drink water: for he mourned because of the transgression of them that had been carried
away." Nehemiah 1:4, "And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat
down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of
From these Scriptures, we see that fasting and travail (a prayer burden from the Lord
that brings crying and tears) were combined. Both of these men were fasting for the
repentance of God's people. How we need this same kind of intercession today. Here were
men so burdened for the sins of their people that they fasted, travailed and prayed.
Today, God is looking for people who are willing to take the same kind of burdens in
the Spirit. After being filled with the Holy Spirit, so many are eager to do something for
the Lord; however, due to a lack of proper teaching, they end up doing works in the flesh
instead of works in the Spirit. Works that we do in our own strength profit nothing, but
works that are inspired by the Spirit are profitable and bring results. Prayer is work in
the Spirit. That is why it is not easy to pray. Travail and fasting are works in the
Spirit. Witnessing under God's leadership is a spiritual work. God is looking for laborers
who are ready to go to work for Him. (Matthew 9:37-38, "Then saith he unto
his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye
therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his
harvest.") The Lord is looking for workers, people who will labor to produce
eternal results. Laboring in the Spirit brings many into the kingdom of God and causes
much growth in the church.
Fasting is also one of these labors. It is a form of afflicting our soul. (Isaiah
58:3, "Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we
afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge?...") By afflicting our
soul, we say to our flesh, "Flesh, you are demanding to eat, but Christ is stronger
than the desires of my soul. My spirit shall rule my soul, and my soul shall not have
dominion over me." Numerous individuals today are in bondage to their appetites
because they have never denied themselves anything. The Lord wants us to be ruled by the
Spirit, not by the flesh. Fasting brings the flesh unto subjection of the Spirit.
(Matthew 4:4, "But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread
alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.")
Fasting is also a way we can minister unto the Lord. We read in Acts 13:2
that they ministered unto the Lord and fasted. It is a way we can offer the time we
generally spend in eating as unto the Lord in prayer. As we spend this time with Him, it
causes things to happen in the Spirit. We do not understand this principle any more than
other mysteries in the Bible, but we find that by applying it we get results. There are
many things I don't understand with my natural mind, but I receive them by faith because
the Word of God says they are true. If God's Word says it, that settles it. I don't even
understand why Jesus had to die on a cross to save us from our sins. However, because I
believed that He did and received His forgiveness in my heart, I was "born
again." Likewise, I do not understand all the principles of fasting, but I do know
We have discussed the absolute and the normal fasts, but we need to also mention the
partial fast. This is a fast where we restrict our intake of food, but do not totally
abstain. We have a record of this in Daniel 10:2-3, "In those days I, Daniel
was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my
mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled".
Daniel went on a three-week partial fast, restricting his diet of all pleasant food, meat
and wine. It was during this time that he had a visitation from an angel. Fasting always
suppresses the flesh and heightens our spiritual sensitivity. Generally speaking, we hear
the Lord's voice more easily while fasting.
We all can benefit by giving up our pleasant bread for a season. The Lord blesses us
for whatever sacrifices we make for Him. Our country is suffering under a spirit of
gluttony and it would be a great blessing for the United States to have a time of national
fasting unto God. We sit down and eat many times when we are not even hungry, simply
because it is a habit. We should not eat out of habit or tradition, but rather that we
might glorify Christ in our bodies. (I Corinthians 10:31, "Whether therefore
ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.")
Fasting sometimes comes spontaneously. Often if people are grieving they lose their
appetites and unconsciously fast. That is why mourning and fasting are mentioned together
in the Bible. Another type of spontaneous fasting occurs when we are so busy seeking God
about a situation or a spiritual goal that we simply forget to eat. (We are moving too
fast to take time to eat because we are concentrating on the things of the Spirit. We are
moving in the spirit in a "fast" way. The fasting acts as spiritual dynamite to
speed things up in the Spirit that would normally take a longer time to come to pass.)
Some Christians are forced to fast due to a lack of food in their part of the world. They
can dedicate this time to God and He will bless it as He would a voluntary fast.
Does fasting move the hand of God? No. If we believe that God withholds from us and we
have to fight to get Him to bless us, then we have a wrong conception of the Lord. Isaiah
58:6 indicates that fasting is not to move the hand of the Lord, but it is to
make Satan turn loose of what he is holding back that rightfully belongs to us. Jesus died
so we could have the blessings. They belong to us as His children. However, we must press
in and demand the enemy to release some things. This is our right as sons of God.
Sometimes Satan still controls much territory in our lives and the lives of our loved
ones. He has many in bondage. Fasting is a key that breaks loose the bands of wickedness.
As we fast and pray, Satan must let our children who are bound by spirits of rebellion and
drugs go free. He must take his hands off our loved ones, our friends and family. Some
people are so bound that only fasting can loose them from the wicked chains of darkness.
We need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit as to when fasting is needed. Sometimes it
is not necessary because the problem has already been "prayed through." We need
simply to rest in the Lord until His time for our answer to arrive. If we fast at those
times, we will just be going hungry. We need also to seek the Lord as to whether He would
have us go on a partial fast, normal fast or total fast. If we will ask, He will let us
know. He will confirm His will to us. If we cannot hear His voice too clearly, He will
send somebody to speak His counsel to us. We must trust Him.
We need also to check our motives when we fast. If they are selfish, our fast will not
be accepted by the Lord. We see this in Jeremiah 14:10 and 12, "Thus saith
the Lord unto this people, Thus have they loved to wander, they have not refrained their
feet, therefore the Lord doth not accept them; he will now remember their iniquity, and
visit their sins. When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt
offering and an oblation, I will not accept them: but I will consume them by the sword,
and by the famine, and by the pestilence." We cannot fast and have evil,
unrepented sin or selfishness in our lives and expect God to answer our prayers. Many
times we don't even recognize selfish prayers. When we pray for our loved ones to be saved
or delivered, and our motive is to only bring relief to ourselves instead of being
concerned that they receive the peace and joy of Jesus, we are wrong. Let us examine our
hearts when we seek God for anything.
Isaiah 58 is the great fasting chapter. Here we read how this key can
break the bonds of wickedness, undo the heavy burdens and bring healing. It frees the
oppressed and the depressed. It breaks every yoke. Some people are yoked to bad habits in
this world, and fasting can break those yokes so they can be free to enter into the
kingdom of God. A three-day fast will break most addictions.
Isaiah 58:7 also says, "Is it not to deal thy bread to
the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house?" Fasting
makes it possible for us not only to give "spiritual bread" to those that are
hungry, but also releases our finances so that we can give "natural bread" to
the poor and needy. The Lord wants us to have an abundance so we can be a blessing to
others. He will bring the poor to our houses to be fed. He wants us to be able to minister
to others. He will give us a ministry and cause people to be drawn to our doorstep by the
Holy Spirit for counsel and prayer.
Verse 7 continues, "when thou seest the naked, that thou
cover him." We are to cover others' sin through fasting and prayers of
mercy. We are to ask God to forgive them and give them another chance. If we were stripped
naked right now and our lives were bared before the world, every one of us would be
ashamed and embarrassed about our past sins. None of us could stand. All of us would fall
down naked, exposed and humiliated. However, we do not have to suffer this because Jesus
paid the price for our sins and washed those things away. Praise God! They are not there
anymore; God does not remember them, and neither should we. (Hebrews 10:17,
"And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.") We need to
pray for others to be released from the burden of sin that is upon their lives.
Verse 7 also says, "...and that thou hide not thyself
from thine own flesh?" One trick of the enemy is to get us so busy
ministering to others that we fail to minister to our own flesh. We must also ask the Lord
to do a work of cleansing in our lives, and also make sure that we take time to let the
Lord minister to us through His word, and in time spent alone with Him. Also, we are not
to neglect our own flesh and blood. We must not get so busy with others' needs that we do
not minister to our own families. We are to fast for them, pray for them and spend time
In verse 8 we see the fruits of fasting, "Then
shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily:
and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy
reward." Healing will come forth quickly through fasting. If we have a
besetting sin that we cannot get the victory over, fasting will strengthen us spiritually
and deliver us from that bondage so that our righteousness can go before us. What a
beautiful promise that the glory of the Lord shall be our reward! We receive a reward
during the time of fasting, but it does not stop there. We also will be rewarded by seeing
things come forth in the future as answers to our prayers.
Verse 9 says, "Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall
answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of
thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity." By
this we see there are conditions to our fast. We cannot point our fingers at others in
condemnation if we expect our prayers to be answered. We must come humbly before the Lord
if we desire to see our prayers answered.
The remainder of Isaiah 58 explains that the Lord will cause us to be
lights to others, and that we shall not walk in darkness but have the Lord continually
guiding us. He says we shall be taken care of in drought. No matter what is happening in
the land, we shall have plenty. Waste places shall be rebuilt, and the Lord will restore
and repair the damage that has been done to our lives. We shall ride upon the high places
of the earth and shall inherit God's blessings. Fasting brings restoration not only in our
individual lives but in the life of the church also.
To sum up the different kinds of fasts:
(1.) Normal Fast - No food, water only.
(2.) Absolute Fast - Absolutely no food or water (Caution: Should not be undertaken
over 3 days and only then if you have a clear directive from the Lord and are in good
(3.) Partial Fast - Abstinence from certain kinds of foods (i.e.: No meat or sweets, soup only, fruit and vegetables only, etc. In Daniel 10:3, Daniel ate no pleasant bread).
(4.) Juice Fast - Fruit and vegetable juices only.
(5.) Corporate Fast - A church or group of
people who feel God has called them to fast together for a certain period of
(6.) Chain Fast - A church or group of
people who commit to fasting for a long period of time and each individual
commits to fast for a day or longer and signs up for so many days so that the
entire period is covered for the designated fasting period. (Our church did
this for an entire year at one time.)
(7.) Jewish Fasting Period - The Jewish
fast began at 6:00 P.M. in the evening and ended the next day at 6:00 P.M.
(Some people follow this time period to begin and end fasts.)
(8.) Fasting Plus Prayer -- Remember,
fasting should be combined with prayer. God called us to fast and pray, not
fast and preach, nor fast and work. God did not call us to fast and do hard
physical work. Although some work and certain responsibilities cannot be
avoided while fasting, accounts in the Bible reveal that they arranged times
to fast and pray when they did not have to work so they could make seeking God
the focal point during the fast, especially when the fasts exceeded 3 days.
Giving up our free weekends and vacations to fast, is one way we can sacrifice
to the Lord.
(9.) Fasting and Abstinence -- Although
the word "fast" is used as abstaining from food in the Bible and does not
refer to giving up other things, during a fast one can practice
abstinence from other pleasures as well, such as entertainment, TV, hobbies
and sex, as spoken about in 1 Corinthians 7:1-5.
If you are considering an extended fast, you should seek competent medical supervision
of someone familiar with fasting. This is especially needed if you are taking any
medications. (This article is informational and spiritually directive and is not intended
to take the place of medical advice). We would also recommend you reading these books for
detailed information on fasting: God's Chosen Fast by Arthur Wallis or The
Coming Revival by Dr. Bill Bright. You can purchase these from your local
Christian bookstore or you may order them from our CHAPEL
BOOKSTORE (Click Here).
RESTORATION OF THE CHURCH
We are living in the time of restoration of the church now. God has begun a work of
restoration in us. The power of the Holy Spirit is being restored to the church. God is
healing His people and giving back to them the things Satan has robbed. The Lord is
restoring truth to the church again, so she can rise from obscurity and be seen in love
and power, even as she was in New Testament days.
The world is looking for a church that has the power to heal and bless, a church that
walks in victory. The world wants to see a church that is not hypocritical, a church that
is holy and full of love. We are the individual members of that church if we are born
again. The work must begin in us personally before it can manifest itself corporately. The
Lord is returning for a bride without spot or blemish. God is preparing her. We must have
the keys to the kingdom so that we can come to that place in God where the world can tell
the difference between "us" and "them."
Fasting is a wonderful tool given to help bring us to that place. God's ultimate desire
is that we live "fasted" lives, thus reducing the need for periodic fasting.
However, until we come to the place where the kingdom of God means more to us than food,
we need to set our wills to fast in order to bring our bodies under subjection to the
Spirit of the Lord.
Paul was an overcomer and says in I Corinthians 9:27, "But I keep under my
body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to
others, I myself should be a castaway." For us to overcome we must do
likewise. To grow in God we must follow the methods He mapped out in His Word. The Lord is
encouraging us to walk in His footsteps so that we might attain the same victory that Paul
did. It is not impossible; we just have not understood God's ultimate purpose for our
lives; we have lived far below the level God intended. Even though we will walk through
some hard places in this life, we will be able to say it was worth it all when we come
into the same perfection that Paul did.
II Corinthians 11:27, "In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often,
in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness." Philippians 3:8,
"Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge
of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count
them but dung, that I may win Christ."
The keys of prayer, praise, worship, intercession, travail and fasting will bring us to
the same place that Paul attained through Jesus. We can have a similar anointing in our
lives, and be used as Paul was to achieve God's victories in the name of Jesus. We can
enter into the Lord's authority so that the demons and devils obey us. We can expose
Satan's devices and learn the ways by which we overcome him. These important keys will
unlock many from the chains of darkness. Let us use all the keys to the kingdom so that
the kingdom of God might be formed in us.
"Father, You know each one that is reading this today, and I ask You to reach
out and meet their needs. Lord, minister to their need now through the power of the Holy
Spirit. If there are those who have not been filled with Your Spirit, I pray that You
would fill them now to overflowing. Lord, to those who need You as Savior, touch them and
come into their hearts; may they be born again and placed into Your kingdom. For those who
need healing in their bodies, touch them with Your creative power. Father, deliver and set
free those who are suffering from depression and are bound by the things of this world.
Bless Your people, Lord, as they seek Your will and way for their lives. Give them Your
strength to use the keys of the kingdom to overcome the enemy. In Jesus' name, Amen."