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May 13, 2024

Ep.1333: Should Christians Fast?

The how, when and why of appropriate Christian fasting

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Can we drink water during a fast?

What should we do and not do during a fast?

When and how should Christians fast, according to the New Testament?

Theme Scripture: Acts 14:23

Fasting is a practice that has endured for thousands of years and appears often in the Bible. Among other things, it is used as a tool of focus, an expression of grief and a sign of humility. What seemed to have been a common occurrence in ancient days has now become far less mainstream. So, do all of the biblical references to fasting in both the Old and New Testaments mean we as Christians should be engaging in this practice regularly? If we should be participating, what circumstances bring on appropriate times to fast? Just as important, how should we fast? Are there time frames that should be kept? What about drinking water during a fast - is that appropriate? So many questions! Fortunately, the Bible gives us many practical answers, and some are VERY surprising!

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Old Testament fasting

Fasting was a common occurrence in the Old Testament and was implemented for many reasons. Surprisingly, fasting was only proclaimed once as an annual national observance in the Law of Moses. It was to be done on the Day of Atonement and it was to be done by ALL of Israel. This was a solemn ritual designed to bring the hearts and minds of God’s people to a place of sober gratitude as sacrifices were made to God on their behalf. In relation to the Law, fasting was a means of stopping all activity and refocusing all energy on the magnitude of God’s favor. Other Old Testament occurrences were related to grief, hope, discipline, and focus. Generally, it was an outward way to put outward experiences into a godly context.

New Testament fasting

As we open the New Testament, we find a very different approach to fasting when we look at it as followers of Christ. Jesus fasted for 40 days immediately after being baptized and receiving God’s spirit. His fast was not as a result of some outward experience happening around him. On the contrary, it was a result of his desire to focus himself entirely upon precisely accomplishing his Father’s will going forward as the Messiah.

Jesus taught his followers about fasting as a tool of Christianity in the Sermon on the Mount. His instruction was very personal. It was also very specific regarding the necessity to keep our times of fasting from becoming rituals for public observation. Interestingly, fasting does not play a major role in New Testament Christian writings. So, what role should fasting play in our Christian lives?

Check out our May 13, 2024 podcast, “Should Christians Fast?” for answers. We address the value and the danger of fasting. We examine each instance in the New Testament where it occurs. Then we look at the how and the why of those experiences and then dig into the several questions that so many of us have. When should we fast? How long should we fast? Are we allowed to drink water when we fast? Don’t miss this opportunity to uncover many little-known biblical pieces to the fasting puzzle!


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