The Bible nowhere requires us to fast

The Bible nowhere requires believers to fast. It is a good activity (we will mention the advantages below) but not something we have to engage in as if it was a command we have to follow. However, Scripture does paint it in a good light because it has many spiritual benefits. But we must be wary not to judge and look down on those who choose not to abstain from eating for specific intervals of time (Colossians 2:16-23; Romans 14:1-8). In other words, this activity does not make any believer more spiritually mature than another.

Fasting is about putting our focus and attention on God

Fasting is not so much about abstaining from food as it is putting more of our focus and attention on God. That is what fasting is all about, temporarily putting away earthly needs to focus and rely on the spiritual provisions of our heavenly Father. That is the sole purpose of this biblical activity. And we must be careful not to take it too far (going without food for too long can harm the body). It would be unwise to intentionally mimic the fast Jesus underwent during His time in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-2).

Especially relevant to our discussion is the purpose and motivation behind why we do what we do. For example, we are not to fast to look good in front of others and show everyone we are good Christians better than they are; that is judgementalism (Matthew 7:1-2; Luke 18:10-13). The Pharisees habitually disfigured their faces so that others would notice their fasting and respect it all the more (Matthew 6:16-18). But fasting (like prayer) is a personal matter between us and the Lord.

Fasting can have physical, mental, and spiritual benefits

Abstaining from food (especially larger meals) makes us feel more awake, alert, and energetic. It is not uncommon to feel sleepy after a meal because our body has to work harder to digest everything we have ingested. When we feel more awake and alive, our willpower to resist sin and study the Word is greater. This greater physical, mental, and spiritual energy will allow us to devote more fulfilling time to the Lord. However, just because we may feel tired after a meal doesn’t excuse us to sin. No matter the circumstances, we can overcome any temptation that comes our way. And fasting is no guarantee we will put our foot down with temptation and say, “NO!” Overcoming sin requires a free-will decision relying on the power of the Holy Spirit and has nothing to do with whether we eat or not.

Fasting is often associated with worship

The Bible often associates fasting with humble worship (Matthew 6:16-18; Acts 13:2; Luke 5:33-39). But, like music, it is just another option we can employ to worship God. The best and most important way to worship the Lord is through how we live and conduct our lives.

Fasting can be a sign of repentance, contrition, grief, and remorse

Scripture associates fasting with humble repentance, contrition, grief, and remorse (Joel 2:12; Psalm 69:10; Luke 5:33-39). Matthew 6:18 describes it as a rewardable deed. However, our Lord does not require this from us whenever we have erred or fallen into a bad lifestyle for some time.

Fasting often occurs during rough times or before making difficult decisions

Fasting often occurred during difficult times and right before hard decisions were made (Ezra 8:23; Daniel 10:3; Acts 14:23). But, again, this is not required of believers today. Stating otherwise is legalism.