In complete fasting, you usually do not eat anything for the duration of the fast, be it a day, two, or three. It involves drinking only water or fluids such as juice, especially when it is a fast of over 24 hours.
Partial (Morning till evening)
This fasting uses either of the paths of complete fasting, that is, either dry fasting or only drinking water, but usually runs from morning till evening before breaking the fast. Some people prefer eating breakfast and not eating anything until they break the fast at night for dinner, while others prefer to fast from dinner to dinner.
Selective/Daniel fast (Certain Kinds of Foods)
This involves choosing to eat only certain kinds of foods and avoiding others over the fast period. Mostly, people avoid meat or sweets, and go for soup only, or fruit and vegetables only, or the juices of the fruits and vegetables, etc. Note that in Daniel 10:3, Daniel ate no bread. Selective fasting is usually designed for mostly 3 or more days, and could go as long as 21 days or even more depending on the person or group engaging in the fast. Selective fast can be from 6:00 am to 3:00 pm or from sunrise to sunset.
Daniel 10:3 – “I did not eat any tasty food, nor did meat or wine enter my mouth, nor did I use any ointment at all until the entire three weeks were completed.
There are a few instances in the bible where people fasted without food or drink for a short period of time as they sought God.
Esther 3:16 – “Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.”
People have erroneously quoted these two portions of scriptures as instances of a 40 days dry fast.
“So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did not eat bread or drink water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.”
“And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry.”
In Exodus 34:28, Moses is not said to have been in fasting for those 40 days but he was in the presence of the Lord for those 40 days. When in that very presence, the need for physical nourishment was not these in his physical body. It’s not the same as fasting when you’re not physically in His presence.
In Mathew 4:2, Jesus fasted forty days and forty nights. We’re told that after those days, he became hungry but we’re not told that He became thirsty. That tells you that he must have been drinking and not eating.
Before you engage in a dry fast (without drinking water or other fluids), make sure you consult a doctor so that they can give you advice.
- Jews fast usually begins at 6:00 P.M. in the evening and ends the next day at 6:00 P.M (24 hours). Some people follow this time period to begin and end fasts.
- Remember, fasting should go with prayer. Worship and prayer are great compliments to fasting, as well as reading the bible. Christ called on us to fast and pray. If you are fasting a certain meal of the day, use the time you would normally be eating to pray. The combination of prayer and fasting is a powerful way to focus on seeking God for breakthrough and answers to prayer.
- Dry/absolute fasting (no food or water) should not generally be done for over 3 days and even then only if you are in great health and have a clear directive from the Lord.
- People under medicinal prescriptions should also consult their doctors before choosing the specific type of fast to engage in.
- To create a better time with God and to listen to his voice, be intentional about not getting distracted by phones, radio, social media, or other people, especially while in prayer over your fast period. For example, you can choose not to listen to the radio as you drive to work and just talk to God and meditate on scripture in solitude.
From the above description, you have probably noted that the path of fasting you choose is usually between you and God. He will honor your best sacrifice offered from a contrite heart and spirit.
May our good Lord give you the strength as you fast, may He not hide His face when you seek him, may he speak to you in a language that you can understand, May he repeat it to you over and over again like a baby so that you do not forget his word, and may your prayers be answered in accordance to His perfect will and richness in Christ Jesus. Blessings!
Scripture References for Fasting:
Matthew 6:16-18 – “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”
Relation to Prayer and Reading of the Word:
1 Samuel 1:6-8, 17-18, Nehemiah 1:4, Daniel 9:3, 20, Joel 2:12, Luke 2:37, Acts 10:30, Acts 13:2, Isaiah 58, Jeremiah 14:12, 1 Corinthians 8:8
1 Samuel 7:5-6, Ezra 8:21-23, Nehemiah 9:1-3, Joel 2:15-16, Jonah 3:5-10, Acts 27:33-37
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