Why Do Christians Fast?

Desiring God | 7/17/2019 | Staff
fufu-fefefufu-fefe (Posted by) Level 4
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Fasting is the act of going without food for a certain amount of time. The act is not distinctly Christian, nor is it distinctly spiritual either; it could just be physical. And so, Pastor John, we get questions all the time about Christian fasting. What is it, and why do we do it? How would you frame this discussion and introduce Christian fasting?

First of all, let’s define fasting. Here is a generally accepted definition of fasting among Christians over the centuries. Fasting is a temporary renunciation of something that is in itself good, like food, in order to intensify our expression of need for something greater — namely, God and his work in our lives.

Fasting - Bible - Christians - Fasting - Place

Now, defined like that, fasting is not explicitly commanded in the Bible for Christians. Fasting doesn’t have the same place in Christianity that it does, for example, in Islam. The fasting that Muslims do during the month of Ramadan in Islam is a requirement of every real Muslim. You can’t really claim to be a Muslim if you say, “I am just not going to do Ramadan.”

Fasting doesn’t have that kind of place in Christianity. Even though there is no command to fast in the New Testament, nevertheless there are indications that it was normal and that Jesus expected it would happen among his followers.

Gloomy - Hypocrites - Fasting - Others - Truly

When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

So, several things stand out in that passage. One is that Jesus...
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