Fasting FAQs contain commonly asked questions concerning fasting with scriptural answers and comments, which are available to any visitor to our site. We believe it is very important for all Christians to know about the tremendous benefits available through the discipline of fasting. This is a discipline that Jesus Himself practiced. He told John the Baptist's disciples in Matthew 9:14-15, Mark 2:18-20, and Luke 5:33-35 that His disciples would fast when He was taken away from them. Jesus compared Himself with a bridegroom and His disciples with the children of the bride chamber. When the Bridegroom is gone then the children of the bride chamber will fast. Jesus is plainly telling us in the scripture that we should voluntarily fast while He is away.
Does not eating food have to be part of fasting?
Why is prayer so important while fasting?
Will I get sick if I don't eat?
Should I fast alone?
Are there biblical examples of group fasting?
Are there biblical examples of the supernatural in operation during fasting?
Do I need to repent of sin while fasting?
Are there certain foods I can eat when I fast?
Are there other things I can sacrifice when I fast?
Is it important to fast in secret?
What hygiene measures should I take during my fast?
Can I expect to get closer to God during a fast?
Are prayers more effective during a fast?
Will I get more powerful during my fast?
What rewards will come because of fasting?
Should I tell my spouse if I plan to fast?
Why is fasting so important in denying the flesh?
How do I gain control over my flesh by fasting?
Should I read the Bible while fasting?
Should I expect revelation of scripture during my fast?
What makes biblical fasting different than when my doctor requires me to fast?
Can I use fasting to lose weight?
Isn’t it fasting when I eat less during a diet?
It is a common practice to refrain from food in the strictest definition of fasting. The word and all its variations (fast, fasted, and fasting) in the original Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament) means a lack of or to abstain from food. The word is always in association with food. Fasting is not biblical fasting without the partial to total abstinence of food. You will find more information about this subject on the website and in the fasting guides and books written by Daniel Evans available from the Daniel Evans Ministries’ Store.
Fasting without prayer would not be considered biblical fasting. Fasting without prayer would just be doing without food and would rob one of an opportunity to commune with God. Understanding of course, that prayer is very broad at its base in the sense that prayer is communication, which consists of talking and listening (You will read more about two-way communication in Daniel’s book Extraordinary Giving). There are rich rewards in praying as it is a conversation between God and you. As you would practice good conversation to develop relationships with people, a Christian does the same with God. Biblical fasting and prayer are inseparable according to scripture. Continuously, we read scriptural examples of both being practiced at the same time.
If that concerns you, restrict your fasting practices to a meal, smaller portions, or a food item at a time until you build yourself up to a complete meal, a day, or multiple days. The body may react to fasting similar to times when you haven’t eaten because of work or other reasons and you suffered from a headache, nausea, weakness, etc. The body craves food and other pleasures that it is accustomed to indulging in. When you deprive the body of these things it may react in a negative way. Fasting is like any other discipline that you have to train yourself and your body will need training.
Even medical science and fitness programs know the value of proper fasting as a means of detoxifying the body of impurities. It’s kind of like cleansing the system and giving it a break. However, if you have medical conditions that require you to have food when taking doctor prescribed medications you may desire to consult your physician before participating in a fast. You do not want to make your medical condition worse by not taking your medication, nor eating food when taking your medication, especially if you are required to do so by your physician.
There are certainly biblical examples to fast alone when you consider the scriptures that teach you to fast without saying anything to anyone; to wash your face and anoint your head with oil. In Matthew 6:17-18 the scripture says we’re not to “appear unto men to fast.” I don’t know how you do that if you do like the religious leaders of Christ’s day who published their fast so they would be perceived as devoted and spiritual! The point of the above scripture passage is not to lose your reward when practicing the discipline of fasting. We all like to receive good results out of whatever we do, especially from the good things we accomplish. The motives of the heart will determine the results of your fasting.
Probably one of the most dramatic and effective group fasts was when the King of Nineveh required the whole city to fast including the animals to entreat the favor of God to turn away from the judgment prophesied by Jonah the prophet. Take some time and read the Book of Jonah. It is only four chapters, but it speaks strongly to fasting and repenting going together hand in hand.
To see another example of fasting in the middle of crisis read the story of Paul in Acts chapter seventeen when all the crew of the ship had been fasting for fourteen days. Paul told them they could go ahead and eat because God had appeared unto him to assure him that no one on the ship would die even though the ship itself would be destroyed in the storm.
The Bible gives many examples of group fasting. You will find some of these listed in the guides available in the website store. The secured fasting section of this website offers privacy and secrecy for the participants that have registered to participate in a group fast. There is more on this particular question shared within the website and in guides and other books written by Daniel Evans.
Cornelius in Act 10:30 surely did have a divine encounter with an Angel of God while he was fasting. “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.” Wow, what an experience that must have been! How about Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles chapter twenty when God said to place your praise team in front of the army and send them out before the enemy and watch me fight the battle for you. God supernaturally took care of that battle to the point that no Israelite soldier had to raise a weapon. Many other examples of the supernatural in operation during and after fasting are recorded in the Word of God and Daniel Evans has written about many of them. There have been supernatural healings, deliverances, and feats performed because of fasting by many in our day as well.
Many biblical fasting examples were focused on repenting. They were accomplished in sackcloth and ashes. There were times when individuals and groups came together to mourn their sin and departure from God. God promotes the humble and the contrite but abases the proud and arrogant who have no god unto themselves except themselves. Daniel fasted and prayed a prayer of repentance of sin as he sought God on the behalf of Israel toward the end of the seventy years of Babylonian captivity. “And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications with fastings, and sackcloth and ashes; And I prayed unto the Lord, my God and made my confession….we have sinned…” Dan. 9:3-5
Back to the question of repenting of sin during fasting; if you pray, read the Word of God, and allow the Holy Spirit to lead you during your fasting endeavor, you will be reproved of any sin that may be present as did the entire city of Nineveh.
First of all, we are not referring to any particular named fast or associated cookbooks. I believe you can make certain allowances if you so choose and have peace about your decision, which the presence of peace validates that your decision is approved by the Holy Spirit. Daniel in his 21-day fast said, he ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh, nor wine in his mouth (Daniel 10:3). This scripture passage may be indicating that perhaps he ate some light food that was basically for purposes of minimal nutrition, but not of the sort that ‘satisfied his flesh!’ Please remember, the preceding remark does not set a general rule that Daniel’s fast or any fast you partake is always a partial fast. This question is only in reference to a partial fast or either for an individual that may be developing in this discipline. Again, for some of us it may not be what we did eat but what we chose not to eat.
To be more specific for the question, there are many fasting systems offered detailing of what you can and cannot eat. The point here to make is that whatever you don’t eat should be offered as a sacrifice of denying your flesh its desires to please God and to develop in the control of your fleshly appetites.
Whatever you fast ought to cost you something! It should hurt your ‘flesh’. You should make a demand of yourself to let go of something you really enjoy if you are going to ‘fast’ something along with food. For example if you’re addicted to television, gaming, FaceBook posting, texting, talking on the telephone, etc. you could give up those things for a period of time. Yeah, I know some of you cannot imagine being without any of your vices for any amount of time. However, we’ve all heard the expression, “no pain, no gain!” If what you give up is not valuable then it is not going to be a sacrifice that is pleasing to God or anything that will reflect your sincerity to seek Him.
The Bible contains examples of individuals giving up music, sexual relations of the marriage, comfort of palaces, etc. to fulfill their desires to sacrifice pleasures during their fast. Some of these examples are included in the guides and other books written by Daniel Evans available in the website store and in other writings located in this fasting section.
There are times when a fast should be public. When church leadership may call for a corporate fast it’s impossible to keep that a secret. Perhaps, if we had more public fasts then we would be more conscious, individually, of the need and requirement to fast. Remember, fasting is not a matter of ‘if’ but a matter of ‘when’. It is a given that we are to fast because the scriptures encourage us to do so.
Back to the question of ‘secret fasting,’ yes it should be kept secret as much as possible. Even prayer is mostly done in a secret place of prayer. This is sometimes referred to as a prayer closet or some other place free of disturbance and interruptions. A good suggestion would be early morning prayer or late evening prayer while most of the world has quieted down. It is very important to remember that prayer is a two-way conversation between God and you. We must pray, but also listen! Remember Matthew 6:18 and how it tells us to do this in secret and then our Father that sees in secret would reward us openly.
Well, you can eat with ‘unwashened hands’ so I guess you could fast without doing a lot of preliminary hygiene things. However, since we want to be scriptural we are told in Matthew 6:17, “But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head and wash thy face.” Why? Let’s look at two reasons. First of all, doesn’t it seem respectful to give some time in preparing your heart to come before God? Besides, do you want to come before the God of the universe with your hair all a mess, your breath stinking, and your face dirty? How you feel about yourself has a lot to do with how prepared your heart will be. Secondly, the scripture gives us directions of how not only to prepare ourselves for God, but to appear presentable to people. It has much to do with what reward you are seeking. When we seek the recognition of people because we appear to be suffering will also affect our approach to God in prayer.
Keep this in mind. Many, even while fasting still go about their daily routines of work and many other personal and family responsibilities. To receive your full reward from God and not to appear to be suffering it is a good idea to brush your teeth and hair, apply deodorant and personal fragrances, put on clean and neatly pressed clothing, and of course, a smile on your face. To simplify the question, do what you would do any other day to appear presentable in whatever you may do.
You certainly can if you’re fasting and spending time in the Word and prayer at the same time. Just refraining from eating food will not cause you to get closer to God. It will help you become slimmer, but have little effect on the condition of your spirit. While fasting from food and you’re spending more time with God then you cannot help but get closer to God. We are admonished in James 4:8, “Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you.”
Prayer is always effective! James says in 5:16, “…The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” Remember this, the greater effort you give to a thing the more successful you will be at it. The more you follow the directive of the scriptures to fast and pray you will discover things begin to come easier. Prayer is always associated with biblical fasting. It stands to reason that fasting with the proper motives helps to make prayer more effective and you see greater and quicker results when you both fast and pray. Perform a personal study of the scriptures and you will see that fasting was often the catalyst for supernatural occurrences and revelation knowledge when combined with prayer.
I don’t know if I would choose the word ‘powerful’ but fasting does build up the strength of the inner man, also referred to as the spirit man. It seems like a paradox that you can go without food and gain strength, but one thing is for sure, fasting also gives clarity to the thought processes, if you fast with your mind focused on Christ and not on the food you’re abstaining from. That sure can be hard sometimes, because we like food just like anyone else. Of course we need to remember the words of Christ to His disciples when they failed to cast out a devil out of a man’s son. In Mark 9:29 the scripture says, “And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.” In this passage of scripture it is supported that fasting provides an impartation of greater power. This kind of power is for the working of good and benevolence not for the exercising of self exaltation.
We don’t have the time or space to list all those who were ‘rewarded’ when they fasted and prayed, but a study of the scriptures will reflect how God answers prayer when people fast. Answered prayer is a reward in and of itself, but there is a greater reward drawn from the Father’s heart when you fast and pray. The Bible says in Matthew 6:18, “…thy Father who seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.” This scripture passage is referred to a lot when referring to how a person should fast properly according to the Bible. The scripture reference, in verse 17, of anointing your head and washing your face depicts the body needing refreshing. Emphasis is not placed on these things if a person is keeping their normal eating habits. This depicts the body maybe in a state of weakness because of the lack of food. The Bible says to not appear to be in this state. Therefore, you can make a choice to brag about and appear to be suffering on a fast and have no fruit from it, or you can keep a secret and have something to really talk about as you gain spiritual strength and God gives you supernatural breakthroughs and blessings. It is far better to brag on God and what He does rather than on your own efforts!
The scripture gives testimony to many that have received rewards of wealth, direction, deliverance, healing, protection, and revelation. Repentance and salvation are also results of fasting and prayer as demonstrated in the book of Jonah.
It is always wise to share your spiritual plans with your spouse. They need to be aware that you’re taking time alone with God. Not eating with the rest of the family should never be construed that you’re upset with them. Also, it is respectful for the one that prepares meals not to waste food by knowing you will not be eating. If you will be abstaining from the sexual activity of your marital relationship the scripture tells us to seek the mutual consent of the spouse and then come together again after your fast so that neither of you will be tempted (Romans 7:5). If there are activities, entertainment, etc. you will be sacrificing during your fasting endeavor which are normally enjoyed by your spouse, other in the home family members, and yourself, then you should let them know. It is also good to talk with your family about the necessity of helping you to keep your fast a secret.
The very carnal nature of man is at enmity with Christ, so anytime you exercise discipline over your desires you are bringing that ugly part of yourself under the Lordship of Christ. It is in large part bringing your thought life into right thinking. Unchecked the thought life runs rampant and feeds the mouth with all kind of detrimental words that speak death over your life rather than health and prosperity. Fasting helps us to win against all those external forces as well, which are seeking to pull us away from intimacy with Christ. Take control! We’ve been given spiritual directives to successfully accomplish this in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds ;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”
You cannot kill flesh with flesh, but you can by allowing the Spirit of God to empower and anable you through the Word! Fasting will humble you before Christ and change your desires to be more in line with heaven than with the earth. Fasting will also help you to focus more on the very things that are hindrances, which many times may prevent you from fulfilling God’s will for your life. During fasting you can develop the awareness of these things that will allow you to gain and maintain control over them. Daniel’s book, ‘Understanding Biblical Fasting,’ explains the appetites of the flesh, how they work against us, and how they keep us so in tune with the natural world.
Fasting is all about ‘denial’ of appetite. Your natural appetite for food is designed to keep you healthy, so that you eat when you should and do not die from neglect. It is given not to be exploited to obesity, but as a proper instrument of balance in your life. When your appetite controls you then you take on things that are harmful rather than healthy. That extra 30 – 50 pounds really isn’t healthy is it? But the same food that you could eat in moderation and be slim and trim and strong when taken to the excess does the exact opposite for you. So fasting is your deliberate effort to ‘control’ appetite and make it your servant rather than the other way around.
But, let’s not be mistaken and think ‘control’ of the flesh is simply about food! Boy, wouldn’t it be easier if it was! There are deadly appetites that fight against the appetite of the spirit man that desires to be fed from heaven’s table. The natural tendency for immorality, lust, pornography, perversion and a whole bushel basket of deadly sin is repented of, and areas of your life that are open doors for temptation are brought under control when you live a life of regular fasting, prayer, and reading of the Word of God. These spiritual practices are like pesticide sprayed on plant devouring insects and disease. The disease dies and the plant thrives! Hallelujah!
More detail on this subject is also revealed in Daniel’s book, ‘Understanding Biblical Fasting.’
You should read the Bible even when you’re not fasting. It should be a daily practice! It is your Life Manual. It is also your spiritual food that keeps your spirit man spiritually healthy. When God tells us He will “instruct us and teach us in the way we should go” it is through reading and studying the Word. The answer you’re seeking is there if you search for it. How often have many saints sat with the Bible in their lap and suddenly a scripture comes alive and God speaks to them through that particular passage of scripture concerning a resolution for a specific problem. By the way, how could you not read the Bible when you have been instructed to fast by the very same book? The Bible is the road map to Heaven, a guide on how to live godly, an eternal source of information on the character of God and His desires for the welfare of mankind.
When fasting and reading the Bible you could receive revelation, direction, conviction of sin, instruction, and a greater knowledge of God and of yourself. This is the reason for daily Bible reading, especially during fasting. The Bible is what God has said. It is settled in Heaven and will endure forever. 2 Timothy 2:15 (AMP) says, “Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth.” Romans 10:17 (KJV) says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” It is even good to read the Bible aloud while fasting and in your daily reading times.
Don’t you love it when a plan comes together! That is what happens when you study scripture while fasting! Illumination comes during concentration! When you lay aside the things you most like to do, then it is no longer a distraction to you. Now you are open to experience something new. In fasting you ‘leave behind’ the ordinary that you may lay hold of the extraordinary. When it comes to fasting along with reading the Word of God, fasting is like throwing gasoline on a fire. Suddenly it really comes to life! This is the experience God desires for His people. He wants His Word to be in us. Read the below Bible passages to see what the results will be because of the Word of God abiding in the believer. Hebrews 4:12 (AMP), “For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the [a]breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.” When the Word of God is at work in you, revelation will come and there will be changes. 2 Timothy 3:16 (AMP), “Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action).” 1 Peter 1:20-21 (AMP), “[Yet] first [you must] understand this, that no prophecy of Scripture is [a matter] of any personal or private or special interpretation (loosening, solving). For no prophecy ever originated because some man willed it [to do so—it never came by human impulse], but men spoke from God who were borne along (moved and impelled) by the Holy Spirit.”
When a health professional, whether a medical doctor, nutritionist, physical fitness trainer, or dietician, request you to fast it is for health reasons only. A biblical fast is also an abstinence of food, but prayer and reading of the Word of God are also incorporated. This is the difference between a biblical fast and a doctor requested fast. A fast requested by your doctor is to test your blood for cholesterol levels, sugar levels, etc. and do not want these levels elevated because of the food you may eat. A biblical fast is voluntary to deny your flesh the cravings of food so that you may focus on your spiritual wellbeing.
A biblical fast is never to be associated with a diet. The motives must be to keep a fast secret to receive your reward from God and to develop control over the appetites of your flesh. If the motive is for a diet that will probably be the only reward you get from your fast. The motive is very significant. When the motive is that of deepening your relationship with God by fasting, praying, and reading the Word of God, a diet will be far from your mind.
Any time you abstain from eating food it is fasting. The morning meal named ‘breakfast’ was so named because it is the meal that breaks the fast from the last meal of the day before to the first meal of the next day. We cannot associate any other form of fasting with biblical fasting. The motives of the heart, praying, and the reading of the Word of God must be part of a biblical fast, whether it is a partial or total fast. The English Dictionary definition of the word fast is an abstinence from food, or a limiting of one’s food. So yes, less food during a diet is fasting, but it is not a biblical fast.