Is Fasting for the New Testament?

What is fasting?

The Greek word is “nesteia” which means to abstain from food, either totally or partially. Usually only water was drunk during a fast. It was accompanied with an intense prayer for spiritual reasons. One fasts to get the Lord’s will in a certain matter. It seems to be a voluntary act not a spiritual duty to be observed regularly.

What is wrong fasting?

Matt. 6:16 – To the Pharisees of Jesus’ day it had become a religious show of hypocrisy. They fasted two times a week, usually on the second and fifth days of the week. This was on the major market days when there was a bigger audience. They fasted to be seen by men and to appear religious.

What is right fasting?

Matt. 6:17-18 – Jesus assumes His followers will fast on certain occasions, but does not give a command or a specific time, place, or method.

Fasting is always associated with prayer. Here are some instances in the Bible about fasting:

  1. Associated with mourning over a loss (Matt 9:14-15; I Sam 31:13; 2 Sam 12:16; 3:35).
  2. Associated with mourning over sin (Joel 1:14, 2:12).
  3. Associated with a time of testing, trial, or struggle (Matt 4:1-11).
  4. Associated with understanding God’s word or seeking His will (Dan 9:2-3,21-22;10:3).
  5. Associated with the beginning of a ministry or task (Matt 4:1-11).
  6. Associated with spiritual warfare (Matt 4:1-11, 17:21).
  7. Associated with the setting apart of spiritual leaders (Acts 13:2-3, 14:23).
  8. Associated with self-discipline (I Cor 7:5).

I believe that by denying the physical, and concentrating on the spiritual, we become more open to God’s illumination.

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