We have looked at some key verses on fasting and before we post those, we will make a few comments.
First, fasting is a serious act. The believer needs to remember that fasting is communicating an attitude and it is not made to be part of a fad; a game or some taken for granted manner.
Second, fasting is done from a specific heart attitude. The person fasting has a burdened heart whether it is for prayer requests, redemption or seeking God’s will in certain matters.
Third, fasting is an expression of humility. People who fast have seen the error of their ways or specific actions and they humble themselves before God.
Fourth, when a person fasts, they should not always expect a positive answer to their purpose for fasting. God’s choice of answers is not always influenced because a person takes to fasting.
Fifth, fasting is not a public spectator sport. It is not done to gain points with others or to look spiritual. Nor is it to be done to show people you are obeying God. You need the right attitude when you fast or you are probably wasting your time.
sixth, fasting should be done without sin or sinful acts accompanying it.
seventh, fasting can be done when one truly repents from their sinful ways and want to receive mercy from God.
Fasting is not to be taken lightly and it should be a subject that is taught correctly in the church. When you read the following verses, look to the heart attitude behind the act of fasting. In simple terms, fasting should be genuine:
5 The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.6 When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust.7 This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink.8 But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence.9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”
Isaiah 58: 3-7
3 ‘Why have we fasted and You do not see?
Why have we humbled ourselves and You do not [a]notice?’
Behold, on the day of your fast you find your desire,
And drive hard all your workers.
4 “Behold, you fast for contention and strife and to strike with a wicked fist.
You do not fast like you do today to make your voice heard on high.
5 “Is it a fast like this which I choose, a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it for bowing [b]one’s head like a reed
And for spreading out sackcloth and ashes as a bed?
Will you call this a fast, even an acceptable day to the Lord?
6 “Is this not the fast which I choose,
To loosen the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the bands of the yoke,
And to let the oppressed go free
And break every yoke?
7 “Is it not to divide your bread [c]with the hungry
And bring the homeless poor into the house;
When you see the naked, to cover him;
And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Matthew 6: 16- 18
16 “Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they [j]neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face 18 so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
Ezra 8: 21-23
21 Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God to seek from Him a [h]safe journey for us, our little ones, and all our possessions. 22 For I was ashamed to request from the king troops and horsemen to [i]protect us from the enemy on the way, because we had said to the king, “The hand of our God is [j]favorably disposed to all those who seek Him, but His power and His anger are against all those who forsake Him.” 23 So we fasted and sought our God concerning this matter, and He [k]listened to our entreaty.
2 Samuel 12: 15-17
Then the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s [i]widow bore to David, so that he was very sick. 16 David therefore inquired of God for the child; and David fasted and went and lay all night on the ground. 17 The elders of his household stood beside him in order to raise him up from the ground, but he was unwilling and would not eat food with them.
Daniel 9: 3-6
3 So I [a]gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes. 4 I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed and said, “Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, 5 we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments and ordinances. 6 Moreover, we have not listened to Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings, our princes, our fathers and all the people of the land.
Acts 13: 2-3
2 While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.
Joel 2: 12-13
12 “Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
“Return to Me with all your heart,
And with fasting, weeping and mourning;
13 And rend your heart and not your garments.”
Now return to the Lord your God,
For He is gracious and compassionate,
Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness
And relenting of evil.
Psalms 35: 13-14
13 But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth;
I humbled my soul with fasting,
And my prayer kept returning to my bosom.
14 I went about as though it were my friend or brother;
I bowed down [e]mourning, as one who sorrows for a mother.
Nehemiah 1: 4
4 When I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.
Luke 2: 36-37
36 And there was a prophetess, [n]Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in [o]years and had lived with her husband seven years after her [p]marriage, 37 and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers.
Esther 4: 15-16
15 Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, 16 “Go, assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa, and fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maidens also will fast in the same way. And thus I will go in to the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish.”
Acts 14: 23
3 When they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
2 Samuel 1: 11-12
11 Then David took hold of his clothes and tore them, and so also did all the men who were with him. 12 They mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and his son Jonathan and for the people of the Lord and the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.
These verses should show the seriousness that is part of fasting. You will notice that there is no frivolity no novelty, no careless attitude involved. Fasting is done by serious believers who truly want to please God and live according to his ways. Just because other religions have their members fast and pray does not make either act wrong, sinful or those religions Christian. The attitude and the faith behind the acts is what sets the Christian fasting apart from other religions.
It is done in spirit and truth.