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I. MEANING OF FASTING – The original meaning is to abstain from “food”. For those that have health issues or other extenuating circumstances then a non food fast could be used – sacrifice something you love doing that is harmful to your health (alcohol, drugs, smoking, chocolates, television). Indulge in reading more Scriptures each day; pray often; read a good Christian book – The Purpose Driven Life-by Rick Warren; The Shack- by Young.

A. The Normal Fast – Luke 4:2; Matt. 4:2.
Luke 4:1 And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 4:2 Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered.
Matt. 4:2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.
B. The Absolute Fast – Acts 9:9; Esther 4:16; Ezra 10:6.
Acts 9:9 And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.
Esther 4:16 Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.
Ezra 10:6 Then Ezra rose up from before the house of God, and went into the chamber of Johanan the son of Eliashib: and when he came thither, he did eat no bread, nor drink water: for he mourned because of the transgression of them that had been carried away.
C. The Partial Fast – Daniel 10:3 I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.

III. “WHEN” – NOT “IF” – Matt. 6:2, 5, 16; Matt. 9:15
Matt. 6:2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
Matt. 6:5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
Matt. 6:16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
Matt. 9:14 Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not? 9:15 And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.

A. Whether regular or public, fasting is a matter between the individual and God.
B. Two Types of Involuntary Fasting
1. There is no desire for food because of anxiety, sorrow or mental distress – Daniel 6:18: Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of musick brought before him: and his sleep went from him.
2. Situations where persons find themselves with no food available – Matt. 15:32; 2 Corinthians 6:5; 11:27, Phil. 4:11, 12.
Matt. 15:32 Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.
2 Corinthians 6:5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings;
2 Corinthians 11:27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
12: I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

Zechariah 7:5; Acts 13:2; Isaiah 58. (Zechariah 7:5 – Speak unto all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying, When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me? Acts 13:2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.

A. Where fasting is accepted as a normal spiritual exercise there is often so much emphasis on fasting for personal benefit, for the endowment of power, for spiritual gifts, for physical healing, for specific answers to prayers, that the other aspect is forgotten. There is no suggestion that it is not right to seek these things, but our underlying motives must first be right. (Matt. 6:16-18)
Matthew 6:16-18 16: Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
17: But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;
18: That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

B. God is not merely concerned with what we do but why we do it.

C. God’s chosen fast is that which He has appointed; that which is set apart for Him, to minister to Him, to honor and glorify Him. That which is designed to accomplish His sovereign will – Romans 11:36
Romans 11:36 36: For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

A. For Personal Sanctity – Ps 69:10; Matt. 5:4
Ps 69:10 When I wept, and chastened my soul with fasting, that was to my reproach.
Matt. 5:4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Fasting is a divine corrective to the pride of the human heart. (Ezra 8:21 – Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance). Personal fasting must also include the aspect of consecration to God – Jesus in the wilderness for 40 days, Barnabas and Paul (Acts 13:3 – And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.)
B. To Be Heard On High – (Ezra 8:23 – So we fasted and besought our God for this: and he was intreated of us.) -seeking God, drawing near to God and prevailing with God. Prayer is warfare! Prayer is wrestling! These are opposing forces. Fasting is calculated to bring a note of urgency and importunity into our praying, and to give force to our pleading in the court of heaven – (Matt. 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.)

C. To Change God’s Mind – Jonah 3:5, 10; 1 Kings 21:27-29; Jer. 29:10-13
Jonah 3:5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
Jonah 3:10 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.
1 Kings 21:27-29 27: And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly.
28: And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,
29: Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son’s days will I bring the evil upon his house.
Jer. 29:10-13 10: For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.
11: For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
12: Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.
13: And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

D. To Free The Captives – Isaiah 58:6 – Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?

E. To Deliver – (Mark 16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;)

F. For Revelation – Daniel 9:2, 3, 21, 22; Acts 2:17
Daniel 9:2-3 In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.
3: And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplication, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:
Daniel 9:21-22: Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.
Daniel 9:22: And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.
Acts 2:17: And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

Read a good book on fasting; if necessary, consult a physician; be in tune with God to see if He has called you to fast and not because everyone else is fasting. Books that might be of interest: