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Reasons for fasting

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

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Situations in which fasting is appropriate


1 Chronicles 10:11–12 ESV
But when all Jabesh-gilead heard all that the Philistines had done to Saul, all the valiant men arose and took away the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons, and brought them to Jabesh. And they buried their bones under the oak in Jabesh and fasted seven days.
See also ;


Esther 4:3 ESV
And in every province, wherever the king’s command and his decree reached, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting and weeping and lamenting, and many of them lay in sackcloth and ashes.
See also ; ; ; ; ;


1 Samuel 7:5–6 ESV
Then Samuel said, “Gather all Israel at Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord for you.” So they gathered at Mizpah and drew water and poured it out before the Lord and fasted on that day and said there, “We have sinned against the Lord.” And Samuel judged the people of Israel at Mizpah.
See also ; Daniel identifies himself with the sin of the people; ; ; ;

Seeking God’s intervention

2 Samuel 12:15–17 ESV
Then Nathan went to his house. And the Lord afflicted the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and he became sick. David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. And the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground, but he would not, nor did he eat food with them.
See also ; ; ;

Seeking guidance

Judges 20:26–28 ESV
Then all the people of Israel, the whole army, went up and came to Bethel and wept. They sat there before the Lord and fasted that day until evening, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. And the people of Israel inquired of the Lord (for the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days, and Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron, ministered before it in those days), saying, “Shall we go out once more to battle against our brothers, the people of Benjamin, or shall we cease?” And the Lord said, “Go up, for tomorrow I will give them into your hand.”
See also Moses fasts before the revelation of the Law; ; ; ; ; The church receives direction through the Holy Spirit while fasting.

Indicating earnestness

Acts 23:12–13 ESV
When it was day, the Jews made a plot and bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. There were more than forty who made this conspiracy.
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