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Fasting Notes

June 27, 2008
Hey guys. Here are my notes on fasting from last sunday.These notes are from my bible reading, book reading, and practicing the spiritual dicipline of fasting.The notes appear in their original form when i taught for FCA. If you guys have any questions please leave a comment. I’m hope to post soon about Mike’s question in Sunday school. Again what you read below is from my personal study and practice. I am by no means an expert in the field, but i hope it helps.

Grace and peace,


Recommended Reading:

God’s Chosen Fast–  Arthur Wallis

A Hunger For God– John Piper 

The Life you Always Wanted– John Ortberg

The Celebration of Discipline– Richard Foster


Fasting (North Greenville College FCA)    


1. Reasons to fast

  1. It’s Biblical: Greek word used in New Testament: “nesteia” noun. Fasting; going without food. “nesteuo” verb. To fast; go without food. (Notice how the term fasting in the Bible refers to food!)


    a.  Jesus Fasted:

Matthew 4

1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”4 Jesus answered, “It is written: `Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “`He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. “7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: Do not put the Lord your God to the test. Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me. Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: `Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only. “11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. 

    b. Jesus assumed we would fast. Matthew 6:16, Mark 2:18-2…”When you fast”

Matthew 6

16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,18 so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  

      B. Spiritual health

            Rom 8:12-13.. Putting to death the deeds of the body

            1 Cor 9:27…..but I beat my body and make it my slave

            Rom 13:14…..make no provision for the flesh 

      C. Physical health

      1. Mostly helpful…Helps the body to detoxify itself.
      2. It can be damaging. 

                  Ps 109:24… “my knees give way from fasting” 

Fasting stands on its own grounds and may on occasion serve a spiritual purpose all its own. 

2. Results of fasting (God’s gifts in fasting) 

      A. 2 Chron 20:3………………..Victory and power 

      B. Ezra 8:21-23, 31-32…………Safe journey 

      C. Neh 1:4………………Found favor in King’s eyes, built the wall 

      D. Dan 10:2-3………………….receives a vision  

      E. Luke 2:37………………….She got to see Jesus 

      F. Matt 4:11……………..Angels came, Withstood temptation 

      G. Matt 17:21………………demons cast out 

      H. Acts 13:2-3………………..Holy spirit 

       I. Acts 14:23…………………helped in decision process 

3. How to Fast and How not to Fast in One Chapter 

God is not merely concerned with what we do, but why we do it. 

Fasting must be done unto God. In Isaiah 58, the classic of scripture on the subject of fasting, God reminds His people that the acceptable fast is the one which He has chosen. 

Isaiah 58:1-11 
       “Cry loudly, do not hold back; 
          Raise your voice like a trumpet, 
          And declare to My people their transgression 
          And to the house of Jacob their sins.  
       “Yet they seek Me day by day and delight to know My ways, 
          As a nation that has done righteousness 
          And has not forsaken the ordinance of their God. 
          They ask Me for just decisions, 
          They delight in the nearness of God.  
       ‘Why have we fasted and You do not see? 
          Why have we humbled ourselves and You do not notice?’ 
          Behold, on the day of your fast you find your desire, 
          And drive hard all your workers.  
       “Behold, you fast for contention and strife and to strike with a wicked fist. 
          You do not fast like you do today to make your voice heard on high.  
       “Is it a fast like this which I choose, a day for a man to humble himself? 
          Is it for bowing one’s head like a reed 
          And for spreading out sackcloth and ashes as a bed? 
          Will you call this a fast, even an acceptable day to the LORD?  
       “Is this not the fast which I choose, 
          To loosen the bonds of wickedness, 
          To undo the bands of the yoke, 
          And to let the oppressed go free 
          And break every yoke?  
       “Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry 
          And bring the homeless poor into the house; 
          When you see the naked, to cover him; 
          And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?  
       “Then your light will break out like the dawn, 
          And you recovery will speedily spring forth; 
          And your righteousness will go before you; 
          The glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.  
       “Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; 
          You will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ 
          If you remove the yoke from your midst, 
          The pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness,  
       And if you give yourself to the hungry 
          And satisfy the desire of the afflicted, 
          Then your light will rise in darkness 
          And your gloom will become like midday.  
       “And the LORD will continually guide you, 
          And satisfy your desire in scorched places, 
          And give strength to your bones; 
          And you will be like a watered garden, 
          And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.

(Don’t get lost in these verses, the important thing to see is the reasonfor fasting. Is the fast for self-righteousness or for righteousness? Here’s to more verses that bring this truth to light. Zech 7:5-6, Luke 18:12)

Zechariah 7

4 Then the word of the LORD Almighty came to me:5 “Ask all the people of the land and the priests, `When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted?

Luke 18

8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable:10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.11 The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: `God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector.12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, `God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” 

4. Practical tips in fasting 

Normal fastà  water-no food

Absolute fastà no water-no food

Partial fastà varies (give up a certain mean, Just juice and water, etc.) 

When we fast, how long we fast, and the spiritual objectives we have before us are all God’s choice, to which the obedient disciple gladly responds.  

Set specific goals.

    1. When we fast you are using a means that God has chosen to make his voice to be heard on high. When I fast I always try and have certain people or things to pray about. Whenever you think about food, pray! The times you might spend eating food pray and seek Him.(This will show you how much your life revolves around food, and hopefully will change your heart towards prayer.) Sometimes when I feel that I’m not growing or feel like I’m in the wilderness I fast to seek God’s wisdom.
    2. Spiritual purity.Fast to draw near, seek, obey, and love God, not because it sounds like a spiritual thing to do. (Remember the verses from Zech. and Luke.)
    3. Discipline (weekly fasting). Fasting is not always easy; it takes self-control.
    4. How long should you fast? The Bible mentions several amounts of time. (2,7,10,21,40,*40+40* days) My suggestion is to start small to discipline your mind and body and slowly move to whatever length you feel is necessary. I started with one day and then moved to three days and then to seven days.
    5. What to eat before and after? Try to stay away from caffeine at least a few days before you fast. (longer if you drink a lot of caffeine) A sudden stop of caffeine can cause headaches. When you end your fast its best to eat salad or fruit, try to stay away form meat for a few meals. Your body needs time to begin the digestive process again, the salad will aid your body in this process (ever wonder why your salad is always served first at restaurants. Now you know!)
    6. What do I take in during the fast? I do one of three things, although I’m sure there are more. First, is what I would call a normal fast. That is no food, and only drink water. Second, is the partial fast, that is, no food and only drink water and juices (remember to stay away from caffeine). Third is the absolute fast, this is no food or drink. The absolute fast should not be done for a long period of time. In fact I would say not more than one day because the body can only go without water for three days so BE CAREFUL with this type of fast.

5. What I learned From Fasting 

    1. Food is an idol- how much time do you spend thinking about food?
    2. How to worship in all things
    3. Increased love for God
    4. Most important thing! HOW TO BE CONTENT!    

6. Dangers in Fasting 

1. Be careful with physical activity

2. Fast unto God not to lose weight!!!

I also want you to communicate to the girls (because I know that weight can be a struggle) that fasting should be done unto God, for the purpose of wanting to grow and be changed by Him, NOT to lost weight! 

One Comment leave one →
  1. Kathy Henson permalink*
    June 28, 2008 2:42 am

    Thanks for posting this Jeffrey!

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