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Fasting
by: Dalton Gilreath

I.                Introduction

A.    Fasting is a topic we do not often discuss and many know little about

                                                    i.     Fasting is not just about avoiding food or drink

                                                   ii.     Fasting is about doing so with a spiritual purpose

B.    Biblical fasting is abstaining from food and drink in order to focus on a spiritual need

C.    Consider some common questions and answers regarding fasting

                                                    i.     Why fast?

                                                   ii.     How long should I fast?

                                                 iii.     Do I have to fast?

II.              Why fast?

A.    One might fast in times of grief

                                                    i.     The Jews in Esther’s day fasted when they heard the king’s decree commanding their demise (Est 4:3)

                                                   ii.     The people of Jabesh fasted over the death of Saul (1 Sam 31:13)

                                                 iii.     The children of Israel fasted over the losses of their own when battling with Benjamin (Judg 20:26)

B.    One might fast over an illness

                                                    i.     David fasted even for his sick enemies (Psa 35:13)

                                                   ii.     David fasted when his son was dying of sickness (2 Sam 12:16-21)

1.     Notice that when the child died he stopped fasting

                                                 iii.     Ninevah fasted over their spiritual sickness (Jon 3:4-5)

                                                 iv.     Paul fasted when he realized he needed to repent of sin (Acts 9:9)

C.    One might fast as an act of humility

                                                    i.     Ezra fasted with the people as they journeyed to Jerusalem (Ez 8:21)

                                                   ii.     David mentions his soul’s humility in his fasting over the sick (Psa 35:12-15)

                                                 iii.     Fasting can be an opportunity to count your blessings and humble yourself as you focus on God

D.    One might fast before an important religious event

                                                    i.     Jesus fasted before being tempted of the devil (Matt 4:2)

                                                   ii.     Paul and Barnabus fasted before traveling to preach the gospel (Acts 13:2-3)

                                                 iii.     We might fast before a Bible camp or gospel meeting

III.            How long should I fast?

A.    Jesus and Moses fasted 40 days (Matt 4:2, Ex 34:28)

B.    The people of Jabesh fasted seven days (1 Sam 31:13)

C.    Paul fasted three days (Acts 9:9)

D.    Darius fasted only one night (Dan 6:18)

E.    Fasting can be however long or short you need it to be

                                                    i.     There is no directed guideline to the length of time

                                                   ii.     Be sure to drink water if fasting more than a couple days

IV.            Do I have to fast?

A.    While there is no direct command to fast in the scriptures it is certainly acceptable and encouraged in certain circumstances

B.    Jesus didn’t say “if” you fast but “when” you fast (Matt 6:16)

                                                    i.     He expected them to fast in the first century

                                                   ii.     This was especially true once He left (Luke 5:34-35)

V.              Conclusion

A.    If you are going to fast be sure to do it right (Isa 58:2-8)

                                                    i.     Do it with all your heart (Joel 2:12-13)

                                                   ii.     Do it with proper reasons (Luke 5:34-35, cf. Luke 18:12)

B.    Fasting is not a must at any given time but it is certainly spiritual and pleasing to God when done in accordance to His divine example