Is There More than One Way to Fast
is much debate in the church today over what is and is not
considered Biblical fasting.
Can you fast the television?
What about a complete media
out all of those loud voices that seem to constantly drown out God's -
that has to be pleasing to Him, right?
Well, as always, if we want to know the truth, we can't just take man's
word for it. We can only take God's.
And, where do
we find God's final Word on anything? Well, in the Bible of
So, the logical thing for us to do would be to look and see what God
really meant when He spoke about fasting in the Bible.
Lets Start by Looking at Fasting in the Old Testament.
word for Biblical fasting used in the Old Testament is tsuwm
It literally means to
cover over the mouth
Wow! Now that is a very
clear picture as to what is expected from us when we fast
God used this term, tsuwm
, to describe
both individual fasting and corporate fasting in the
When we take the time to examine followers of God who fasted in the Old
Testament, we see that food was ALWAYS involved.
Of course, that may not be what we would like
you can't argue with God's Word.
What About Biblical Fasting in the New Testament?
Many Christians may think that, although fasting in the Old Testament
always required the sacrifice of food, this may no longer
us after Jesus' birth, death and resurrection.
But, is this new practice of picking and choosing what we give up for
God based on Biblical fact, or simply an
assumption rooted in human logic?
To find out, let's take a closer look at the word that God uses to
fasting in the New Testament: nēsteia
This word comes from the root word nēsteuō
means "to abstain as a
religious exercise from
food and drink
: either entirely, if the fast
lasted but a single day, or from customary and choice nourishment, if
it continued several days."
looking at this definition, we can see once again that God continues to
reveal to us the true nature of Biblical fasting.
As I explain in the Beyond the Veil In-Home Christian Fasting Retreat
, though Christian fasting does not require that we abstain from food and
drink entirely, especially if it is for an extended fast, we should
always be trading in some of our physical nourishment for spiritual
see confirmation of this by looking at Jesus' fast in the desert.
Why is it so important that we look at Jesus' example?
Because He, not other human beings, is always supposed to be
We are told that
during His fast, "Jesus
all that time and became very hungry." (Luke
If Jesus Himself needed to forsake physical food in order to build up
and refuel His spirit, how much more do each of us need this time set
apart unto God?
One thing that has been lost to many over the years is that Biblical
fasting for God is designed to be a time of total consecration.
Consecration means the, "sanctification of something by
setting it apart as dedicated to God" (Princeton University's WordNet).
When we make the decision to engage in a true fast, we are making the
decision to set ourselves apart unto God. The forsaking of
food is our denying our most prominent physical need in favor of our
It reminds each of us:
I am a spirit.
I have a soul (mind,
will and emotions).
I only live in a body.
Fasting for God takes us before Him to put the 3 parts of our being
into proper balance. But, it is making the
conscious decision to deny our body that opens us up to
receive the work that God wants to do in us, through us, and for us
If you can sense in your heart a need to put your life back into ballance
through biblical fasting, don't just think about it, DO IT. But, you don't have to do it alone. Beyond
the Veil is a step-by-step guide to designing the fasting experience
that is right for you. It helps you combine fasting, prayer, and
scripture meditation for your own personal encounter with God
that is what real fasting is - Reaching out to connect with a living
God, and knowing without a doubt that He's reaching out to connect with
Biblical Fasting: Is There More Than One Way To Fast for
- Have you ever heard that you do not have to give up
food to fast? Why do you think this idea has been so
prevalent in the church today?
- We learned in this lesson that the true purpose of
fasting is consecration, or setting ourselves apart unto God.
What does that mean to you?
- We discussed the fact that you are a spirit, you have
a soul, and you live in a body. How do you think forsaking
physical nourishment, in favor of spiritual food, during a fast helps
us to put who we truly are into perspective?
- Though giving up all non-Christian media is not
truly Biblical fasting, how do you think it could play a part in a
consecration experience? In order to truly set ourselves
apart unto God, do we need to take a break from these influences?
The New Testament Greek Lexicon based on
Thayer's and Smith's Bible Dictionary plus others; this is keyed to the
large Kittel and the "Theological Dictionary of the New Testament."
These files are public domain.
NAS Exhaustive Concordance of the
Bible with Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries. Copyright © 1981,
1998 by The Lockman Foundation. All rights reserved.