Should Christians Fast Under Grace?

Fasting is to abstain from food and drink for a period of time. This could be on purpose and sometimes things may keep you off food (we see an example of this in Matthew 15:32). Now, in answering the question “Should Christians fast?” or “Is the act of fasting still valid for the believer under the New Testament in Christ Jesus?” we must find out WHY EXACTLY men in Bible days fasted in the first place. What was its importance to them? Let’s proceed, shall we?


Psalm 35:13 (NKJV)
13 But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth; I humbled myself with fasting; and my prayer would return to my own heart.

Fasting will do something to (affect) the heart.


Leviticus 23:27 (NKJV)
27 “Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.

To “afflict your souls” here refers to fasting. It was to induce a state of solemnity & humility amongst the people. It was to affect THEIR HEARTS.


Psalm 109:24 (NKJV)
24 My knees are weak through fasting,
And my flesh is feeble from lack of fatness.

Fasting makes you feel weak bodily. It’s supposed to!


Daniel 9:3 (NKJV)
3 Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.

Fasting is for supplications


2 Chronicles 20:3-4 (NKJV)
3 And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4 So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.

It is to seek the Lord, ask help from Him. Note that this was not in a bid to try to impress God but to keep the heart focused.


2 Samuel 12:16 (NKJV)
16 David therefore pleaded with God for the child, and David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground.

David fasted and prayed for his child. His fasting was induced by his prayers, he didn’t have time to feed. So, the fasting here was not deliberate but was caused due to waiting on the Lord. This kept David busy.


Ezra 8:21 (NKJV)
21 Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way for us and our little ones and all our possessions.

It is instrumental in seeking for divine direction. It humbles the heart, quiets the flesh and it’s desires. When the flesh is quiet, the voice of God in guidance gets LOUDER! Fasting doesn’t cause Him to speak or direct, He ALWAYS does, it is to aid YOUR reception.


Esther 4:3 (NKJV)
3 And in every province where the king’s command and decree arrived, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes.

In perilous times


Jeremiah 36:9 (NKJV)

9 Now it came to pass in the fifth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, in the ninth month, that they proclaimed a fast before the Lord to all the people in Jerusalem, and to all the people who came from the cities of Judah to Jerusalem.


In spiritual occasions, meetings.


Jonah 3:5 (NKJV)
5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them.

It was a sign of repentance (a change of heart) under the Old Testament.


So, we have seen so far that fasting was a common practice by God’s people under the Old Testament. It was to aid their reception to God & His things. It was for their benefit, not just a rule they had to follow.


Now, while there is no SPECIFIC instruction in the New Testament to fast per se, there are SEVERAL references to same & NUMEROUS precedences we can follow.


Luke 2:36-37 (NKJV)
36 Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; 37 and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.

Anna was so busy with the things of God that she had no time to eat.


Matthew 4:1-2 (NKJV)
1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry.

Jesus fasted forty days and forty nights and was hungry.


A demon possessed child was presented before Jesus’ disciples and they could not heal him. Jesus later did. This is His response to them when they asked why they couldn’t.

Matthew 17:21 (NKJV)
21 However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”


But before this, He had rebuked their lack of faith

Matthew 17:20 (NKJV)
20 So Jesus said to them,“Because of YOUR UNBELIEF; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.

Unbelief in their hearts. This was the REAL issue here, not fasting!


It is important to note that this text (Matthew 17:21) does not appear in the early Greek manuscripts. It’s not original. It was added in later manuscripts. The only other place where it appears (Mark 9:29), “and fasting” is omitted in the original Greek manuscript as well! There is no such thing as a demon that cannot go out except by fasting, we have authority in Christ (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-18, Phil. 2:10). This authority, when exercised in prayer and in faith, works EVERY TIME!


Acts 13:1-3 (NKJV)
1 Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.


Fasting was instrumental in this special meeting. Notice it was simply to wait on the Lord but supernatural direction came forth through it.

Acts 14:23 (NKJV)
23 So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.


This was to strengthen the souls of the converts & for the appointment of spiritual authority.


1 Corinthians 7:5 (NKJV)
5 Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.


Here, Paul instructs married couples to abstain from sexual relationship FOR A TIME in order to fast & pray.


2 Corinthians 6:5 (NKJV)
5 in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings;

Paul here recounts his ordeals as an Apostle, he includes fastings (note the plurality)


Also in 2 Corinthians 11:27

2 Corinthians 11:27 (NKJV)
27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness

“Fastings” is mentioned again. This denotes that Paul did this frequently.


It is also important to note that fasting is spiritual activity and must not be done in eye service.


Matthew 6:16-18 (NKJV)

16 “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.


One who shows off his fasting does not understand what fasting is all about. When it comes to the fast, a right attitude to same is ALWAYS emphasized (see Isaiah 58). Notice that fasting & prayer seem to always go hand in hand; when you pray, you see prayer as SO important that you stay off food for hours, even days. Fasting is to help in spiritual activity. Let your fasting be such that it helps you receive from God. This will be by suppressing your attention from physical things & aiding your alertness to be set on the things of God. If your fast doesn’t do this, then it’s not really a fast!


Fasting is not what you do to “get” God to answer you. It doesn’t twist His arm! Fasting is what we do to keep our attention on the things of God.


Your mind is involved in every spiritual activity. You CAN eat food and pray, food doesn’t hinder your prayer. But when you fast, you are quieting the noise in your mind & your flesh for maximum attention/involvement in spiritual activity.


Fasting is to help you get the best from what you are doing. When you fast, you become more conscious and effective in spiritual activity. I personally stay on a fast when I am to minister (either via the teaching of God’s Word or the demonstrations of the Spirit) till I’m done. It produces a “lightness” in me. It helps me concentrate and aids my efficiency even as I minister. My discernment is at its peak as I fast & minister by the power of God. This is what fasting does, it affects YOU!


Looking through Scripture, we see that people who were used of God fasted. It would be an assumption to say that we are not to fast. It’s not Old Testament practice. If you are actually seriously doing the work of God, YOU WILL FAST! Give yourself to fasting, practice it. Let the things of God be so valuable to you that you can stay off food. So the right question to ask is not “Should believers fast?” The right question is: Are the things of God valuable to you?” Think upon this!


© Josh Banks Ministries. 2018.


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