foundation truth

Lesson 6 - fasting

The Bible clearly shows that prayer is definitely linked with fasting. Biblical fasting is intensified prayer. Things are accomplished through prayer with fasting which cannot be accomplished by prayer alone. “However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” Matthew 17:21 Remember: Adam and Eve plunged the entire human race into sin over food.

foundation truth lesson 6 bible verse

WHAT ARE SOME BIBLICAL EXAMPLES OF FASTING?

Prophet’s Fast:

  • Moses – 40 days. Exodus 24:17-18, Deuteronomy 9:9
  • Elijah – 40 days. I Kings 19:8
  • Jesus – 40 days. Matthew 4:2; Luke 4:2

NOTE: Moses and Elijah fasted 40 days without food or water. They were supernaturally sustained by the presence of God. These were God-directed fasts. We should not attempt to imitate them unless it is clearly commanded by God.

Total Fast:

  • Esther fasted three days and nights without food or water. Esther 4:16
  • Paul fasted three days. Acts 9:9
  • Paul fasted often. II Corinthians 11:27
  • David fasted 7 days without food. II Samuel 12:16-18

Pleasant Food Fast:

  • Daniel fasted 21 days without sweetened food. Daniel 10:1-3

Group Fast:

  • Israel had special days of fasting, especially the Fast Day of Atonement. Numbers 29:7; Acts 27:9. This was a day of the affliction of the soul.
  • The church at Antioch fasted. Acts 13:2

Are There Other Examples of Fasting?

Yes: Any kind of self-denial, if done with the proper motivation and attitude, can be considered a form of fasting and discipline. I Corinthians 7:5

Partial Fast:

  • Denying yourself certain foods.

Mental Fast:

  • Reading nothing but the Word of God.

CAN WE HAVE THE WRONG MOTIVE IN FASTING?

Yes! the Bible speaks of those whose motives were wrong, and their fasting was in vain. Some people try to bargain with God and impress others with their fasting.

  • The King of Israel, Ahab, fasted with evil motives. I Kings 21:4
  • The Jews fasted to themselves, not to the Lord. Zechariah 7:1-14
  • The Pharisees fasted twice a week, hypocritically. Matthew 9:14; Luke 18:12

WHAT IS THE PROPER MOTIVE IN FASTING?

Isaiah 58 is called “the fasting chapter.” It gives us a description of the proper fast before God. Note especially verses 6-7, and the promises of God which follow in verses 8-14. This chapter shows the proper motivation for a fast is to humble ourselves and to discipline our souls.

HOW ARE WE TO FAST?

  • Fast unto the Lord, not unto men like the Pharisees did, disfiguring their faces. Matthew 6:16-18
  • Humble ourselves with fasting. Psalm 35:13
  • Correct with disciplining our souls in prayer and fasting. Psalm 69:10-11
  • Fast with pure motivation. Isaiah 58:6-7
  • Fasting and prayer should not be used as “works” to earn something from God but to bring ourselves into line with His Word and will.

NOTE: If a believer cannot take an extended fast, it is good to fast one or two meals, when possible, and devote this time to prayer. It is also wise to drink plenty of water during fasting for cleansing purposes. It is absolutely important to PRAY in order to receive the full benefit God intended in FASTING.

WHEN SHOULD WE FAST?

  • When directed by the Spirit of God. Luke 4:1-2
  • When we know as individuals that we need to. Matthew 6:16-18
  • When the Church as a whole is called to fast for special occasions. Joel 1:14, 2:15-16

WHAT ARE SOME RESULTS TO FASTING IN BIBLE TIMES?

  • A nation was delivered from death. Esther 4:16
  • The city of Ninevah was saved from divine judgment. Jonah 3:5
  • Demon spirits were cast out. Matthew 17:14-21
  • Elders were ordained. Acts 14:23
  • The will of the Lord was revealed. Acts 9:9-15. “The Spirit said…” as they ministered to the Lord and fasted. Acts 13:1-4

WHY SHOULD WE FAST

  • In obedience to God’s Word. Joel 2:12; Matthew 6:16; 9:15
  • To receive God’s grace and power. Ezra 8:23, 31; II Chronicles 7:14
  • To overcome temptation. Luke 4:1-2, 14; Matthew 9:15-17
  • To be cleansed from sin. Jonah 3:5; Daniel 9:3; I Samuel 7:6; Nehemiah 9:1-2
  • To weaken the flesh and receive spiritual power. II Corinthians 12:9-10; Psalm 109:24
  • To accomplish God’s will. Acts 13:3, 14:23
  • To find help in difficult situations. II Samuel 12:16; Esther 4:16
  • To find God’s direction. Ezra 8:21, 23
  • To obtain Divine revelation. Daniel 1:8-17, 10:7-8

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About the Author: Dr. Dale Yerton

Dr. Yerton serves as an overseer of a network of churches across the world. What began as a network of six church groups representing 500 churches in Mexico has grown into an international ministry. 

He and Evelyn, his wife over fifty years, live in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. They have two daughters: Lora–married to the Rev. Vince Farrell, pastors of Journey Church in Hopkinsville, Kentucky–and Kari—also of Hopkinsville–and are the proud grandparents of Emma and Bennett Farrell.

Dale Yerton