Here we present 7 Proven Types of Fasting from the Holy Bible.
The Scripture is filled with excellent examples of many types of fasting, which instruct us on how to conduct a fast and the types of fasting we must choose for different occasions and needs. These types of fasting will draw us near to God only when our hearts and minds are in the right place. Fasting has been used by people throughout the Bible as a powerful way to deepen their relationships with God and for spiritual breakthroughs in their lives.
Please note that fasting for forty days and forty nights like our Lord Jesus Christ and the Prophet Elijah is not advisable for everyone and only should be done under the direction and guidance of God Almighty.
What is Fasting?
Fasting is abstaining from food or drink for some time to seek God and plead for His favor. It is an act of worship that involves prayer and repentance. It focuses our minds and bodies on spiritual growth and is an indispensable sacred tool. We should incorporate fasting as a regular practice in our lives. We should eliminate distractions and lay down the pleasures of the world for spiritual refreshing. Developing intimacy with God, hearing His voice, recognizing His goodness, aligning our hearts with the Lord, and following what the Holy Spirit tells us are important goals of fasting.
The types of fasting given here include the name of the fast, the purpose of the fasting, and how was the fast conducted,
7 Types of Fasting
Name of Fast: The Jesus Fast (Types of Fasting)
Purpose of Fasting: To prepare for His work in the world and spiritual power and victory over temptation, the flesh, and the devil. Completely dedicating to God and His supreme will.
How was the Fast Conducted: Jesus spent 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness fasting and praying to God before He began His ministry on earth. He ate nothing during this period of fasting (Matthew 4:1-17; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-14).
Name of Fast: The Samuel Fast (Types of Fasting)
Purpose of Fasting: For deliverance from enemies and repentance for forgiveness of sins. When we fast and pray with a clear conscience, God is merciful to forgive our sins and deliver us from our enemies.
How was the Fast Conducted: The people of Israel were worshiping idols and needed deliverance from their enemies, the Philistines. Samuel asked them to put away the strange gods from the midst of them and commit themselves to the Lord and serve Him only, so the Lord God will deliver them from the Philistines. The Israelites fasted for a day to seek God and they confessed their sins. The Lord delivered them from the hand of the Philistines (1 Samuel 7). Praying and fasting for revival will lead to outpouring of God’s mighty power and greatness.
Name of Fast: The Ezra Fast (Types of Fasting)
Purpose of Fasting: Ezra conducted two fasts:
a) Seeking Deliverance and Protection: When the Jews faced a dangerous travel situation to Jerusalem from their exile in Babylon (900-mile trek). The desire for safe travel was not only the reason for the fast, but also to humble themselves before God and seek divine direction. Ezra had told King Artaxerxes, the king of Persia, that the God of Israel would protect them during the journey, and so he was concerned about the honor and faithfulness of God’s name. God answered their request by facilitating a safe journey, and their call to a time of prayer and fasting worked.
b) To Seek Repentance: When the Jews who had returned to Judah disobeyed God’s laws, Ezra gathered the people to mourn over their unfaithfulness (Ezra 10:6-17). The people turned away from their sinful life and decided to follow God’s commandments.
How was the Fasts Conducted: The fasts lasted for a few days though the Bible does not specify how long. Ezra did not eat any bread or drink water during the fast to seek forgiveness from God and do His commands (Ezra 10:6-17).
Name of Fast: The Elijah Fast (Types of Fasting)
Purpose of Fasting: Elijah’s fast was to break the chains of emotional bondage that sought to control his life. He was looking for direction and wisdom, and freedom from psychological and emotional suffering. He finally let go of control and gave God the reins. God relieved him from his emotional trauma and encouraged him to do great things for His name’s sake.
How was the Fast Conducted: When the evil queen Jezebel, wife of Ahab, threatened to kill Elijah because he won a great victory and killed the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, the prophet fled into the wilderness near Beersheba in Judah. Elijah feared for his life though God blessed him with tremendous victories. He was emotionally weak and tired. He was discouraged and needed emotional healing. He was lonely and he was ready to die.
However, an angel appeared unto him and gave him food and water. He was depressed and needed God’s grace to take the next step. He was fed by the angel a second time, and he started on a great journey for 40 days to Mount Horeb (Mount Sinai during Moses’ time where he received the 10 commandments).
After 40 days of fasting, Elijah received God’s plan and purpose that took away the fears and lies, which were in his mind. He received a renewed vision and strength for God’s calling (1 Kings 19:1-18).
Name of Fast: Church Elders and Apostles Fast in the Church at Antioch (Types of Fasting)
Purpose of Fasting: Prophets and teachers in the Church at Antioch were worshiping and fasting looking for direction from God for making decisions among the congregation (Acts 13:1-3). The Apostles were seeking God’s will when appointing local leaders in whom they had put their trust and committed to the Lord (Acts 14:23). They were fasting to seek sound and godly wisdom.
How was the Fast Conducted: Though the number of days is not mentioned, it is clear that the leaders of the church devotedly prayed and fasted. The Holy Spirit instructed the elders to separate Saul and Barnabas for the special work to which He had called them. The elders laid their hands on these two men, commending them to the ministry. They were sent out as missionaries and preached everywhere they went and proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. They dedicated themselves to the ministry of God with sacrifice and good works.
Name of Fast: The Esther Fast (Types of Fasting)
Purpose of Fasting: Esther’s fast is one of the most significant fasts mentioned in the Bible. It was conducted for a breakthrough in a very difficult or frightening situation. Its purpose was to draw near to God to ask Him for protection from annihilation.
Mordecai, Esther’s cousin heard the news that the Jews were to be exterminated throughout the kingdom of Xerxes. He approached Esther, the queen, to petition the king to spare the Jews. However, royal tradition prohibited anyone from entering the king’s court without an invitation. Esther could be even executed for approaching the king (Esther 4:11). When Esther fasted for the safety of the Jews, she found grace in God’s sight and was accepted into the presence of the king, and the events that unfolded led to the deliverance of the Jewish people (God delivered her and her people from the evil one).
How was the Fast Conducted: The fast was observed for three days and nights. This was a full or complete fast, where the people ate no food and did not drink anything (Esther 4:15-17). It was a group fast, where the Jews in the city of Susa fasted over a specific issue together. Esther and her attendants fasted in the same manner. During times of potential affliction, fasting serves as a tool to express our dependence on God. This is a powerful and effective fast but should be carried out with extreme caution and not for extended periods.
Name of Fast: The Daniel Fast (Types of Fasting)
Purpose of Fasting: Daniel prayed, fasted, and mourned for three weeks for understanding a vision and for an answer to a prayer (Daniel 10:1-3). Daniel sought revelatory direction through prayerful fasting and set his mind to gain insight and humble himself before the Lord. There was a war in heaven when the prophet embarked on the 21-day fast (Daniel 10:13, 14). The vision showed what would happen to God’s people in the future.
Remember, we fight not against flesh and blood, it is against the powers that influence people and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Spiritual battles can be only won in the spirit, through prayer and fasting.
How was the Fast Conducted: This fast lasted for three weeks, and Daniel refrained from eating tasty foods and meat, drank no wine, and applied no ointment/lotion on his skin for 21 days. Known as “Daniel Fast” it is said to be distinguished by only eating whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Water was the only drink that was consumed. This type of fast was a partial or selective fast as it omitted specific food items from the regular diet.
Daniel’s fast was powerful because of his humility and not because of what He gave up. He was seeking God’s direction with a sincere heart. When we pray and fast with a contrite heart, God will answer us and refresh our body and mind.
We hope you learned about the different types of fasting in the Bible, the different lengths of fasts, and the various reasons for fasting. Praying earnestly and humbling ourselves before God during fasting is what makes Biblical fasting unique and special than other types of fasting.
Fasting can sometimes serve as a launching pad for our ministry work. We should earnestly desire to seek God’s grace so our work will be carried out for the glory of His name. God’s will regarding the mission and direction of our gospel work can be revealed during times of fasting and praying. God will bless and enable the work set before us for the good of His people.
Our articles on Lent will help you understand the need for God’s presence in your lives and use this season as a time of repenting, sobriety, refocusing, and renewing. Practice prayer, observe fasting, give up something, and assist those in need.