by | Aug 8, 2023 | Articles

And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. Matthew 6:16 NRSV

It is worth noting that Jesus does not say “if you fast”, but rather “whenever you fast.” Our Lord seems to make it an imperative expectation that His disciples should and must fast. To fast and pray is something strange to many Christians today. But it is not strange to the Old or the New Testament. It was not something strange in the early Christian Church and it was also not something strange in the time of the Reformation and in the centuries thereafter.

I wonder whether we have ever fasted? I wonder whether it has even occurred to us that we ought to be considering the question of fasting? The fact is, is it not, that this whole subject seems to have dropped right out of our lives and right out of our whole Christian thinking. Martyn Lloyd Jones

Moses, Elijah, Ezekiel and Daniel fasted and prayed. Jesus fasted for 40 days. Paul and the early Christians fasted. In the early Christian Church they fasted on Wednesdays and Fridays. Martin Luther was criticized because he fasted too much. John Calvin fasted and prayed until most of Geneva turned to God. John Knox fasted and prayed and the wicked Queen Mary said she feared no weapon like she feared John Knox’s prayers. Jonathan Edwards who was God’s instrument in the revival in New England, fasted and prayed. John Wesley fasted twice a week. Charles Finney one of the greatest spiritual leaders in history was a man who fasted and prayed, as did D L Moody.


  • Fasting is a means to putting God first. It is an attitude of the heart in which we interrupt our normal life and everyday rhythms, and deprive ourselves of food—“bread for the stomach”— to focus on the “Bread of life” that nourishes the soul.
  • Fasting isn’t an alternative to prayer, it is actually an intense partnership between the two. As we deprive ourselves in fasting, the space we create is filled with prayer.
  • Fasting is an effective way to petition God to act on one’s behalf or to create a sensitivity to Him and what He is busy doing.
  • Fasting can also be a sign of sadness or mourning (Daniel 10:2), an act of humiliation (Lev 23:27), accompany confession of sins (Joel 2:12-13) and even be included in seasons of joy (Zech 8:19).


  • Fasting can bring help in times of need (Joshua 7:6; Judges 20:26; Ezra 8)
  • Fasting can bring heavenly wisdom and revelation (Jeremiah 33:3; Daniel 9&10)
  • Fasting can save a people or nation (Esther 4, Jonah 2 & 3)
  • Fasting can usher in blessing (Isaiah 58)
  • Fasting keeps us humble (Psalm 69:10)
  • Fasting draws our attention to God (Daniel 9:1-3)
  • Fasting can bring the flesh into submission (1 Corinthians 9:27, 1 Peter 2:11)
  • Fasting helps combat temptation and spiritual opposition (Matthew 4, Mark 9:29)
  • Fasting can help us to love and worship God (Luke 2:37)
  • Fasting can help bring guidance to decisions (Acts 13:2)


  • 1 Day fast (Esther 4:13-16, 5:1–9:3, Matthew 15:22-29, Acts 9:9,17)
  • 7 Day fast (II Samuel 12:16-23, I Samuel 31:13)
  • 14 Day fast (Acts 27:33,34, Daniel 10:3-13)
  • 40 Day fast (Exodus 24:13-18, 32:15-17, I Kings 19:7-18, Matthew 4:1-11)
  • Corporate fast (Ezra 8, Nehemiah 9, Joel 2:15-16, Jonah 3:5-10, Acts 27:33-37)


  • To earn God’s blessings
  • As a substitute to obedience
  • To impress others
  • To be only external
  • To allow fasting to become a new law in your life.

Do you have a hunger for God? If we don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because we have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because we have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Our soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great. If we are full of what the world offers, then perhaps a fast might express, or even increase, our soul’s appetite for God. Between the dangers of self-denial and self-indulgence is the path of pleasant pain called fasting. John Piper

May our hunger for God grow and may we be desperate for the manifestation of the glory of God in our lives.