Growing up in a Christian family, I saw my parents and seniors fast and pray from when I was young. It made me learn a lot about fasting from a young age. On our last Sunday service, I preached about the power of fasting. After the service, one of the youths had an interesting question which I have decided to answer through this article. The question was, “How many times is fasting mentioned in the bible?”
The number of times fasting is mentioned in the Bible varies depending on the version of the Bible. In the King James Version, fasting is mentioned 17 times, while in the New International Version, it is mentioned 14 times.
Join me in this article as we discuss an interesting topic about fasting in the Bible. We will learn the meaning of fasting according to the Bible and the different types of fasting mentioned in the Bible. We will also go through some verses about fasting, so read until the end.
What does fasting mean according to the Bible?
According to the Bible, fasting means humbling yourself truly in the sight of God. In Psalm 35:13, the Bible says that David said that he humbled himself before God by fasting. It is not just a hunger strike between an individual and God. Fasting is a way to add oomph to one’s prayers. In the Old Testament, most people fasted to bring their prayers to God. They accompanied fasting with other signs of humility, like weeping and wearing sackcloth. The Bible says in 1 Peter 5:5 that God is against pride and shows favor to those who humble themselves before Him. Therefore, fasting is humbling yourself before God to gain His favor while you pray.
What Does the Bible Say about Fasting?
The Bible gives instructions on how one should fast. Matthew 6:16-18 says that when you fast, you should not look tired like hypocrites who wanted to show everyone they are fasting. Instead, you should wash yourself and be lively so that no one knows you are fasting except the Lord your God, who sees things done secretly. Therefore, Christians should not fast to look righteous before other people. They should not boast that they are fasting because Jesus taught it should be done secretly between an individual and God the Father.
Types of Fasting in the Bible
Regular fasting means refraining from all food and drinking only water. According to Matthew 4:2, the Bible says that after Jesus fasted for forty days and nights, He got hungry. The verse does not mention that Jesus was thirsty after fasting. Therefore, Jesus practiced regular fasting in the wilderness.
Partial fasting means refraining from certain types of food during your fasting period. Daniel 10:3 says that while Daniel mourned for three days, he fasted by eating choice food; he ate no meat or drank wine. He also did not use lotion to oil his body. Therefore, another type of fasting is partial fasting, which Daniel practiced in Babylon.
Absolute fasting is when you abstain from all kinds of food and drink. Acts 9:9 describes when Paul went on an absolute fast for three days following his encounter with Jesus on his way to Damascus. Also, according to Esther 4:15-16, the Bible says that Esther told Mordecai to gather all Jews and fast for three days without eating or drinking anything. It is best to practice this type of fasting for a short period.
Sexual fasting is abstaining from sexual activities to devote yourself to prayers and communication with Go. 1 Corinthians 7:3-6 says that both wife and husband should fulfill their marital duty and know that their bodies don’t belong to themselves. They should not deprive each other unless they are on mutual consent or devoting themselves to prayers. In this verse, the Bible teaches about sexual fasting between a husband and wife. It teaches that life partners can practice sexual fasting to devote themselves to prayers and communication with their God.
The Bible records an instance when God enabled someone to fast supernaturally. It is hard for someone to practice absolute fasting for a long period. However, according to Deuteronomy 9:9, the Bible says Moses went for forty days without drinking or eating anything. In Exodus 34:28, the Bible says that Moses was with the Lord for forty days while he fasted and wrote the Ten Commandments. Therefore, God enabled Moses to practice supernatural fasting.
Examples of fasting in the Bible
Luke 2:37 says a widow in the Temple worshipped all day as she fasted and prayed.
Nehemiah 1:4 says that when he heard all that was said, he started crying because he had fasted and prayed before the Lord.
Deuteronomy 9:9, the Bible says that Moses went for forty days without drinking or eating.
Psalms 69:10 says that when we fast and cry, we must tolerate sneering.
Acts 14:23 says that Paul and Barnabas committed the elders, whom they had appointed for each church, before the Lord with prayers and fasting.
Joel 2:12 says that God declares you should return to him with fasting, mourning, and with all your heart.
Luke 18:12 says he gives a tithe of what he gets and fasts twice a week.
Esther 4:16 says that Esther told the people to go and fast for her as she also fasts with her servants, and after all, was done, she would go to the King and request his mercy upon her people.
Exodus 34:28 says that Moses was with the Lord for forty days while he fasted and wrote the Ten Commandments.
Matthew 6:16-18 says that when you fast, you should not look tired like hypocrites who want to show everyone they are fasting. Instead, you should wash and be lively so that no one can know you are fasting except the Lord your God, who sees things done in secret
1 Kings 21:25-27 says that when Ahab heard that there was no one like him, who sold his soul to evil and worshipped idols as requested by his wife, he tore his clothes, wore sackcloth, and fasted.
What are the longest fasting periods mentioned in the Bible?
The longest fasting period mentioned in the Bible is 40 days and nights. Jesus, Moses, and Elijah are mentioned in the Bible to have fasted for forty days and nights. In Exodus 34:28, the Bible records Moses went for forty days and forty nights without eating or drinking anything. In 1 Kings 19:7-8, the Bible records that the angel of the Lord touched Elijah and told him to wake up and eat before he started his journey. It continues to say that after Elijah ate and drank, he went for forty days and nights and even climbed Mount Herob with the strength he got from that food. As for Jesus, it is recorded in Matthew 4:1-2 that he was led into fasting for forty days and nights in the wilderness by the spirit of God.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.