Bible Study – Fasting

Bible Study

Bible Study – Fasting

Scripture Reading: Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the LORD your God, and cry unto the LORD. —Joel 1:14

Summary: Fasting is a long-held practice of God’s people in both the Old and New Testament and is a needful part of a Christian’s life today. It is an outward act of self-denial that can help focus the mind, body, and spirit on the things of God. It is a channel of power with God for deliverance, guidance, anointing, and spiritual growth.

Definition: While Christians should practice self-denial in many areas, the word “fasting” in the Bible means specifically to abstain from food.

I. Fasting Commanded Under the Mosaic Law

A. Leviticus 23:26-32 “Day of Atonement” was the only regular fast commanded by the law (Leviticus 16:29-31, Numbers 29:7).

B. To “afflict your souls” refers to fasting.

C. Psalm 69:10 David chastened his soul with fasting.

D. Acts 27:9 New Testament Jews still observed the Day of Atonement fast.

II. Four Regular Old Testament Fasts

A. Zechariah 8:19 Four annual fasts commemorated the main events associated with the destruction of Jerusalem.

III. Occasions and Purposes of Fasting in the Old Testament

A. 1 Chronicles 10:12 In time of grief and death (2 Samuel 1:11-12).

B. 2 Samuel 12:16-23 David when his child was sick.

C. Psalms 35:11-13 David humbled his soul with fasting.

D. Nehemiah 9:1-3 Penitence at the reading of the law (Jeremiah 36:6).

E. Judges 20:25-26 In time of war (1 Samuel 7:5-8).

F. 2 Chronicles 20:3 Jehoshaphat when Judah was invaded.

G. Ezra 8:21, 23 The exiles for protection on a journey.

H. Esther 4:3,16 To be saved from a decree of death.

I. Deuteronomy 9:17-20 Moses for the sin of Israel.

J. Daniel 9:3-5 Daniel in confession for Israel’s sins.

K. 1 Kings 21:17-29 Ahab to be forgiven.

L. Jonah 3:4-10 Nineveh to change God’s mind.

IV. Instruction and Example of Christ

A. Matthew 4:1-9 Jesus fasted in time of temptation and in preparation for ministry.

B. Matthew 6:5, 16-18 “When” you fast, not “If” you fast.

C. Matthew 9:14-17 Jesus’ disciples would fast in the future.

D. Mark 9:17-29 Greater power and faith through fasting and prayer (Matthew 17:14-21).

V. Fasting in the New Testament Church

A. Luke 2:37 Prior to Christ, Anna was “worshipping with fasting.”

B. Acts 9:9 Saul fasted for three days.

C. 2 Corinthians 6:4-10 Paul was in fastings often.

D. Acts 13:1-3 Church at Antioch to send out missionaries.

E. Acts 14:21-23 Galatian churches with the ordination of elders.

VI. The Acceptable and Unacceptable Fast

A. Isaiah 58:3-6 Ritualistic fasting in carnality without true repentance is unaccepted.

B. Zechariah 7:1-14 Fasting without obedience or for God’s glory is in vain.

C. Matthew 6:16-18 Fast in humble simplicity.

D. Joel 2:12-13 With all your heart.


The days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast. —Matthew 9:15