Fasting is a spiritual practice that has been around for centuries, found in many world religions. In the Bible, fasting is mentioned repeatedly as a way to seek guidance from God and draw closer to him. Here we will look at 10 key Bible verses about fasting, followed by some frequently asked questions about fasting in the Bible. We hope this resource helps you get a better understanding of the role fasting plays in our faith and how we can use it to deepen our relationship with God.
Scripture about Fasting
10 Bible Verses about Fasting
Matthew 6:16-18 ESV
“And 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.
Joel 2:12 ESV
“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
Daniel 10:3 ESV
I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks.
Isaiah 58:3-7 ESV
‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’ Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers. Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the Lord? “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
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Psalm 69:10 ESV
When I wept and humbled my soul with fasting, it became my reproach.
Isaiah 58:6 ESV
“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?
Ezra 8:23 ESV
So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty.
Acts 14:23 ESV
And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
Acts 13:2 ESV
While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
Esther 4:16 ESV
“Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.”
Scripture about Fasting KJV
One of the scriptures about fasting in the King James Version of the Bible is Isaiah 58:6: “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?” This verse emphasizes that true fasting involves becoming an instrument of liberation and justice. It is a reminder to us that even during our times of spiritual fasting, we should not neglect caring for those in need around us. My favorite Bible verse is Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me”. This verse reminds me that even though I may not have all of the resources or strength I need to succeed, Jesus gives me hope and courage for my journey and He will provide whatever support I require.
FAQ about Fasting in the Bible
In the Bible, there are many verses that explain how and when to fast. Generally, fasting involves abstaining from food or certain types of food for a period of time. The purpose of fasting is to bring oneself closer to God through prayer and reflection. According to Leviticus 16: 29-31, on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), Jews were commanded to fast for one full day. Exodus 34:28 states that during the week-long Feast of Weeks celebration, no bread was allowed. In addition to fasting for religious occasions, some people fast as part of their spiritual discipline. This could involve periodic or regular fasting from certain foods or meals or abstaining from food altogether for a certain period of time. It is important to note that physical health should always be taken into account while doing extended periods of fasting.
According to scripture, there are three types of fasting: absolute fasting, normal fasting, and partial fasting. Absolute fasting is abstaining from all food and drink for a set period of time. Normal fasting involves refraining from certain types of food (such as meats) for the same amount of time. Partial fasting involves abstaining from certain foods or drinks during particular parts of the day (i.e., skipping breakfast). All three forms of fasting can have spiritual benefits and amplify one’s prayer life if used properly and with the proper intent.
The biblical purpose of fasting is to draw closer to God through prayer and reflection. Fasting is a way of humbling oneself before the Lord, of self-denial as an act of submission to His will. Isaiah 58:6-7 states, “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” Fasting is meant to bring awareness to one’s spiritual hunger for God and a desire for repentance for wrongdoings.
In the Bible, several people are known to have fasted. Moses fasted for 40 days before receiving the Ten Commandments from God on Mount Sinai (Exodus 34:28). King David fasted as a sign of grief when his infant son died (2 Samuel 12:16–23). Esther fasted for three days and three nights in preparation for her approach to the king (Esther 4:16). Jesus himself also fasted for 40 days in the wilderness before beginning his ministry (Matthew 4:1–2). Elijah and Daniel are also both mentioned as having fasted during their respective ministries.