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Reasons for fasting

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Scripture identifies a number of situations in which fasting is appropriate.


Situations in which fasting is appropriate


1 Chronicles 10:11–12 CSB
When all Jabesh-gilead heard of everything the Philistines had done to Saul, all their brave men set out and retrieved the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons and brought them to Jabesh. They buried their bones under the oak in Jabesh and fasted seven days.
See also 2 Sa 1:11–12; 2 Sa 3:31–35


Esther 4:3 CSB
There was great mourning among the Jewish people in every province where the king’s command and edict reached. They fasted, wept, and lamented, and many lay in sackcloth and ashes.
See also 1 Sa 1:7; 1 Sa 20:34; 1 Ki 21:4–6; Ps 109:24; Da 6:18; Ac 27:33


1 Samuel 7:5–6 CSB
Samuel said, “Gather all Israel at Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord on your behalf.” When they gathered at Mizpah, they drew water and poured it out in the Lord’s presence. They fasted that day, and there they confessed, “We have sinned against the Lord.” And Samuel judged the Israelites at Mizpah.
See also Ne 9:1–3; Da 9:3–6 Daniel identifies himself with the sin of the people; Da 9:20; Joe 1:13–14; Joe 2:12–15; Jon 3:5–9

Seeking God’s intervention

2 Samuel 12:15–17 CSB
Then Nathan went home. The Lord struck the baby that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became deathly ill. David pleaded with God for the boy. He fasted, went home, and spent the night lying on the ground. The elders of his house stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he was unwilling and would not eat anything with them.
See also 2 Ch 20:2–4; Ezr 8:21; Es 4:15–16; Ps 35:13–14

Seeking guidance

Judges 20:26–28 CSB
The whole Israelite army went to Bethel where they wept and sat before the Lord. They fasted that day until evening and offered burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to the Lord. Then the Israelites inquired of the Lord. In those days, the ark of the covenant of God was there, and Phinehas son of Eleazar, son of Aaron, was serving before it. The Israelites asked, “Should we again fight against our brothers the Benjaminites or should we stop?” The Lord answered, “Fight, because I will hand them over to you tomorrow.”
See also Dt 9:9 Moses fasts before the revelation of the Law; Da 9:1–3; Da 9:20–23; Da 10:1–2; Da 10:12; Ac 13:1–3 The church receives direction through the Holy Spirit while fasting.

Indicating earnestness

Acts 23:12–13 CSB
When it was morning, the Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves under a curse not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul. There were more than forty who had formed this plot.
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