Fasting is a spiritual practice that has been practiced for centuries, and is often accompanied by prayer and meditation. It is a way to draw closer to God and deepen our relationship with Him.
Many people turn to the Bible for guidance and inspiration during a fast. In this blog post, we will explore some powerful Bible verses for fasting that can provide encouragement, strength, and clarity during this sacred time.
Also Read: 30 Important Bible Verses About Fruit (With Commentary)
Bible Verses for Fasting
“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Fasting is a spiritual practice that should be done with sincerity and humility, not to impress others. Jesus teaches that when we fast, we should maintain our normal appearance and not draw attention to ourselves. The purpose of fasting is to seek God’s presence and favor, not the approval of others. By fasting in secret, we demonstrate our genuine desire to connect with God, and He promises to reward us openly.
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”
Fasting is not only about abstaining from food, but also about seeking justice and showing compassion to those in need. God desires for our spiritual disciplines, including fasting, to be accompanied by acts of kindness and social justice. When we fast, we should also be actively involved in helping the oppressed, feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, and clothing the naked. Fasting with a heart of compassion pleases God and brings about transformation in ourselves and in the world around us.
“Much time had been lost, and sailing had already become dangerous because by now it was after the Day of Atonement. So Paul warned them.”
In this passage, we see that fasting can involve making difficult decisions for the sake of safety and obedience to God’s timing. Paul, on a dangerous journey, recognized the danger of continuing to sail after the Day of Atonement, a significant day of fasting and repentance in Jewish tradition. He made the wise decision to warn his companions about the peril they were facing. Fasting can help us discern God’s guidance and make choices that align with His will, even if they may go against the pressures or expectations of others.
“Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
Fasting is an expression of sincere repentance and turning back to God. It is a way to demonstrate our deep desire to re-establish our relationship with Him. The prophet Joel calls the people to return to the Lord, not only with fasting but also with weeping and mourning, indicating genuine remorse for their sins. Fasting can serve as a catalyst for a heartfelt confession of sins, a renewed commitment to holiness, and a longing for God’s forgiveness and restoration in our lives.
“Yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth and humbled myself with fasting. When my prayers returned to me unanswered.”
Fasting can be a response to challenging circumstances or unanswered prayers. In this psalm, the psalmist humbles himself through fasting and seeks God’s intervention when faced with sickness and unanswered prayers. Fasting can serve as an expression of our dependence on God and our recognition that our own efforts or strategies are insufficient. It humbles us, strengthens our faith, and invites God to work in ways beyond our understanding. Fasting reminds us that we need God’s divine intervention and aligns our hearts with His purposes.
“Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.”
Fasting can be an integral part of important decisions and spiritual leadership. In this verse, Paul and Barnabas fasted and prayed as they appointed elders in the churches they established. Fasting in such situations shows a reliance on God’s wisdom, guidance, and empowerment. It recognizes that the decisions being made have significant spiritual implications and that only through seeking God’s favor can effective leadership be established. Fasting in these moments helps leaders submit themselves and their decisions to God and acknowledge His sovereignty over their ministries.
“There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions. I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, ‘The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.’ So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.”
Fasting can be a means of seeking God’s protection and guidance in challenging situations. Ezra proclaimed a fast before embarking on a journey, acknowledging their vulnerability and the need for divine protection. Instead of relying on human assistance, Ezra humbled himself and trusted in God’s gracious hand. Through fasting and prayer, they sought God’s intervention, and He answered their plea. Fasting enables us to redirect our trust from worldly resources to God’s unlimited power and provision, knowing that He is faithful to answer our prayers.
“Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”
Fasting can be an act of courage and determination in times of great risk. Esther, facing the potential destruction of her people, called for a fast for three days to seek God’s favor and guidance. Fasting was not only an expression of her personal devotion but also a rallying cry for unity among the Jewish people. Fasting demonstrated their collective dependence on God and their willingness to risk everything for His deliverance. Esther’s fasting resulted in the preservation of her people and serves as an example of how our fasting can bring about divine intervention and protection.
“He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
Fasting can be a catalyst for increased faith and spiritual breakthroughs. Jesus explains to His disciples that their lack of faith hindered their ability to address a particular kind of spiritual challenge. He encourages them that even a small amount of faith can accomplish great things, but certain situations require prayer and fasting. Fasting, along with prayer, intensifies our focus and dependence on God. It creates an environment where the supernatural power of God is more readily available to overcome obstacles that seem insurmountable. Fasting strengthens our faith and positions us to experience miraculous breakthroughs.
“and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.”
Fasting can be a constant lifestyle of devotion and seeking God’s presence. Anna, a prophetess and widow at the temple, dedicated herself to a life of fasting, praying, and worshiping. Her commitment and surrender to God were evident through her constant pursuit of Him. Fasting was not solely for specific occasions but rather a regular discipline that enriched her spiritual growth and connection with God. Fasting can become a way of life, a constant reminder of our dependence on God, and a continual invitation for His presence to dwell within us.
2 Chronicles 20:3-4
“Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the LORD, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the LORD; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.”
Fasting can be a response to overwhelming circumstances and a sign of seeking God’s intervention. Jehoshaphat, facing a vast army, proclaimed a fast for all the people of Judah. The nation came together, recognizing their need for divine help and protection. Fasting united them and focused their attention on God instead of their dire circumstances. Their collective humility and faith led to God’s assurance and victory in the face of overwhelming odds. Fasting in times of crisis can unite believers, strengthen their trust in God, and open the doors for miraculous deliverance.
“My knees give way from fasting; my body is thin and gaunt.”
Fasting can impact our physical and emotional state, reflecting our deep devotion and seeking of God’s presence. In this psalm, the psalmist describes the physical toll fasting has taken on him. Fasting can result in physical weakness and exhaustion as we deny ourselves food and focus on seeking God. It reminds us of our human fragility and highlights our dependence on God’s sustenance. Fasting in this sense can serve as a physical expression of our longing for God, as we empty ourselves to be filled by His power and presence.
“This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘The fasts of the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth months will become joyful and glad occasions and happy festivals for Judah. Therefore, love truth and peace.'”
Fasting can lead to joy and celebration when accompanied by a genuine pursuit of truth and peace. God promises through the prophet Zechariah that the appointed fasts will transform into joyful occasions and happy festivals. The condition for this transformation is embracing truth and pursuing peace. Fasting alone is not the goal, but rather a means to cultivate a relationship with God and align our lives with His truth and peace. When our fasting is accompanied by love, integrity, and a pursuit of peace, it becomes a cause for rejoicing and celebration.
1 Corinthians 7:5
“Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
Fasting can be a temporary abstention from physical intimacy within a marriage for the purpose of prayer and seeking God. The apostle Paul advises married couples not to deprive one another except by mutual consent and for a focused period of prayer. Couples may choose to temporarily abstain from physical intimacy to devote themselves to seeking God’s guidance, wisdom, or intervention. By doing so, they protect themselves from the enemy’s temptations and place their marriage under God’s protection and blessing. Fasting within a marriage can deepen spiritual intimacy and align couples with God’s purposes.
“On the twenty-fourth day of the same month, the Israelites gathered together, fasting and wearing sackcloth and putting dust on their heads. Those of Israelite descent had separated themselves from all foreigners. They stood in their places and confessed their sins and the sins of their ancestors. They stood where they were and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day, and spent another quarter in confession and in worshiping the LORD their God.”
Fasting can be a public act of repentance and a corporate expression of seeking God’s forgiveness and guidance. The Israelites, on the twenty-fourth day of the month, gathered together in fasting, wearing sackcloth, and confessing their sins and the sins of their ancestors. Fasting was accompanied by the reading of God’s word and intense prayer. This public act of repentance demonstrated their humility and desire to turn back to God as a community. Fasting can create an environment of corporate unity, cleansing, and renewal, where God’s forgiveness and guidance are sought on behalf of a group or nation.
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.”
Fasting can be a preparation for facing spiritual battles and temptations. Jesus, before beginning His public ministry, spent forty days and nights fasting in the wilderness. During this time, He faced intense spiritual testing and temptation. Fasting prepared Him spiritually and mentally for the challenges ahead. Although His body grew hungry, His spirit grew stronger. Fasting can sharpen our spiritual senses, increase our dependence on God’s strength, and equip us to resist the attacks and temptations of the enemy. It helps us develop the spiritual stamina needed to withstand trials and fulfill God’s purpose.
“Just before dawn Paul urged them all to eat. “For the last fourteen days,” he said, “you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food—you haven’t eaten anything. Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.”
Fasting can be voluntarily interrupted in life-or-death situations, recognizing the need for physical nourishment. Paul, onboard a ship amidst a dangerous storm, encouraged the crew to eat. Despite the previous two weeks of fasting due to their dire circumstances, Paul recognized the importance of preserving their physical strength. This passage reminds us that fasting is an act of surrendering our physical needs to seek God’s presence, but there are times when God calls us to prioritize our physical well-being. Fasting should not jeopardize our health or endanger our lives but rather enhances our spiritual journey.
“Cornelius answered: “Three days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me and said, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor. Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter.'”
Fasting can open doors of divine revelation and positioning to receive God’s instructions. Cornelius, a devout Gentile, was fasting and praying in his house when an angel appeared to him and gave him specific instructions about sending for Peter. His fasting created an atmosphere that allowed him to hear from God and positioned him to receive divine guidance. Fasting can heighten our spiritual sensitivity and create a space for God to impart knowledge, direction, and revelation into our lives. It prepares us to walk in obedience and fulfill His purposes.
“Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?”
Fasting should not be reduced to mere external rituals but should be accompanied by a genuine change of heart and lifestyle. In this verse, the Lord questions the people’s understanding and practice of fasting. He challenges them to go beyond outward symbols of humility and sorrow and transform their hearts and actions to reflect justice and compassion. God desires a fast that goes beyond temporary abstinence and involves a sincere commitment to righteousness and holiness. Fasting without genuine repentance and transformation is not pleasing to God.
“Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.”
Fasting can be a response to specific seasons or circumstances, based on the leading of the Holy Spirit. Jesus explains to John’s disciples that there are times when fasting is appropriate and necessary. However, during His earthly ministry, the disciples did not fast as they were in the presence of the bridegroom, Jesus Himself. This passage shows that fasting is not a rigid obligation but rather a response to specific spiritual needs and seasons. It reminds us of the importance of discerning the leading of the Holy Spirit and fasting accordingly, while remaining sensitive to God’s timing and purposes.
Also Read: 25+ Important Bible Verses About Giving (With Commentary)
What does the Bible say About Fasting?
Fasting is a spiritual discipline mentioned throughout the Bible. It involves voluntarily abstaining from food or certain types of food for a specific period, often for religious or spiritual reasons. In the Bible, fasting is associated with seeking God, repentance, mourning, and demonstrating devotion.
- Seeking God’s Guidance and Will: Many biblical figures, including Moses, David, and Elijah, fasted when seeking God’s guidance or intervention in important matters.
- Repentance and Atonement: Fasting is often linked with repentance from sin and seeking forgiveness from God. The people of Nineveh, for instance, fasted in response to Jonah’s warning about God’s impending judgment.
- Spiritual Discipline: Jesus himself fasted for 40 days in the wilderness, demonstrating the importance of this practice as a spiritual discipline. He also taught about fasting, emphasizing its private and humble nature.
- Expressing Grief and Sorrow: Fasting is sometimes associated with mourning or expressing deep grief. In times of distress or national calamity, individuals or communities might fast to demonstrate their sorrow and seek God’s mercy.
- Combatting Temptation: In the New Testament, fasting is presented as a means to strengthen one’s spiritual resolve and resist temptation. Jesus’ fasting in the wilderness before facing temptation from Satan is a notable example.
- Accompanying Prayer: Fasting often goes hand-in-hand with prayer. It is seen as a way to intensify one’s focus on seeking God’s presence and intervention.
- Acts of Devotion: Fasting can be an act of devotion, demonstrating a person’s earnest desire to draw closer to God.
It’s important to note that while fasting is a significant spiritual practice, the Bible also emphasizes the attitude of the heart. It warns against hypocritical fasting, where the outward act is performed for public display rather than genuine spiritual growth. Jesus encouraged fasting to be done with a humble and sincere heart, known only to God.
Different denominations and religious traditions may interpret and practice fasting in various ways, but these general principles are commonly recognized across Christianity.