When talking about fasting, Jesus begins, “When you fast…” Notice that he doesn’t say, “If you fast…” (Matthew 6:16). Fasting isn’t commanded in the Bible, but Jesus seems to assume that His followers would fast.

People in the Bible fasted for different reasons: to mourn, to humble themselves before God, and to focus on praying to God for guidance or preparation. When Jesus fasted in the wilderness, he quoted Deuteronomy and said, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4) Fasting can help us understand this truth with new meaning. We can better understand that Jesus is the Bread of Life, who sustains us and supplies our greatest needs (John 6:26-35).

If you decide to fast, you will be physically reminded of your spiritual need. And when you are, God will show you that he is what we are truly desperate for.

There are different types of fasting, and we recommend prayerfully considering which practice is best for you.

Types of Fasting

Food Fasting
Consuming only liquids for a specific period of time. Choose one day a week (Many people will choose to do Friday-Fastday) and abstain from eating breakfast and lunch and instead use those times to pray, and then break fast for dinner. You could also choose to fast for just one meal, or do a couple of days in a week.
Selective Fasting
Removing specific types of food from your diet. One example of a selective fast is the Daniel Fast (Daniel 10:3), during which you remove meat, bread, alcohol, and sweet items from your diet and instead consume only water and juice for fluids, and fruit, vegetables and other plants for food. This could be done for 21 days, or for just a few days.
Stream/Social Media Fasting
Choosing to stop using certain technologies, or social media platforms for a period of time. This fast is a great option if you do not have much experience fasting food, have health issues that prevent you from fasting food, or if you wish to use some of the time you’d spend on your phone or in front of the TV to pray.

Practical Tips for Fasting

1. Start slow. If you’ve never fasted before, begin with just one meal.
2. Continue to drink water to stay hydrated.
3. If you always start each day with a coffee, don’t stop suddenly. Decrease your intake of caffeine for a few days before you fast or you may suffer headaches.

4. Don’t overeat before or after your fast. Eat smaller, healthier meals, including raw foods before and after.
5. Tell only people that you must, but try to be considerate of others in your schedule if you fast.
7. Consciously reflect on scripture and your experience. Use your 21 Days of Prayer Journal!


The Celebration of Discipline 
- Richard Foster

This article includes an extract from the chapter on fasting from Richard Foster’s book The Celebration of Discipline.

Fasting: The Ancient Practices
- Scot McKnight

Recipes and Additional Fasting Resources