Lent is the period preceding Easter that is often devoted to fasting in commemoration of Jesus Christ’s fasting in the wilderness. For Lent 2018 (February 14–March 29), you are invited to participate in a church-wide partial fast. This post provides biblically based guidelines for fasting.
Throughout the Bible, fasting is referred to as abstinence from food for spiritual purposes. Fasting is a biblical way of humbling yourself before God and seeking spiritual renewal (Psalm 35:13; 69:10; Ezra 8:21; Isaiah 58:5; Joel 2:12–13).
Jesus and Fasting
Jesus participated in the practice of fasting.
According to Matthew 4:1–2, “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished."
Fasting should not be a public spectacle.
In Matthew 6:16–18, Jesus says, “Whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. . . . But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that you fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
Possible Objectives of Fasting
- Spiritual renewal
- Deeper relationship with God
- Guidance from God
- God’s grace for difficult situations
- Resolution of problems
Factors to Consider
- Prepare yourself spiritually.
- Prepare yourself physically.
- Ask God for guidance.
- Plan your prayer time.
- Moses before receiving the commandments (Deuteronomy 9:9–18)
- David mourning over his child’s illness (2 Samuel 12:1–23)
- Elijah while escaping Jezebel (1 Kings 19:4–8)
- Ezra for God’s protection (Ezra 8:21)
- Ezra while mourning over sin (Ezra 10:6–17)
- Esther for the safety of the Jews (Esther 4:15–17)
- Darius for the safety of Daniel (Daniel 6:18–23)
- Daniel for an answer to prayer (Daniel 10:1–3)
- Jesus before temptation by Satan (Matthew 4:1–2)
- Paul after conversion (Acts 9:1–9)
- Church elders in Antioch before sending out missionaries (Acts 14:1–3)
- God’s call for a fast manifested through kindness and justice (Isaiah 58)
Examples of Partial Fasts
Examples of partial fasts include the elimination of meat, your favorite beverage, or even your favorite television program. What’s most important is a willingness to make some sort of sacrifice with hopes of turning your attention to God in a more intimate way.