Faithlife Sermons

How to Fast

prayer and fasting  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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FASTING (צוֹם, tsom; νηστεία, nēsteia; ἀσιτέω, asiteō). A ritual of abstaining from food and/or drink for a predetermined period; practiced in the Bible primarily as a means of mourning. Fasting frequently occurs in the Old Testament in response to suffering or disaster, in conjunction with other mourning rituals.

The Dake Annotated Reference Bible (Notes for Verse 10)
Chart: Fasting and Prayer—The Cure for UnbeliefThe disciples asked the Lord why they could not heal a lunatic boy. Jesus said, “Because of your unbelief … Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” (Mt. 17:14–21). Faith needs prayer for its development and full growth, and prayer needs fasting for the same reason. Fasting has done wonders when used in combination with prayer and faith. This is a Biblical doctrine.To fast means to abstain from food—that which caused the fall of man. Fasting humbles the soul before God (Ps. 35:13); chastens the soul (Ps. 69:10); and crucifies the appetites and denies them so as to give the entire time to prayer (2Sam. 12:16–23; Mt. 4:1–11). It manifests earnestness before God to the exclusion of all else (1Cor. 7:5); shows obedience; gives the digestive system a rest (Mt. 6:16–18; 9:15; Lk. 5:33); demonstrates the mastery of man over appetites; aids in victory over temptation; helps to attain power over demons; develops faith; crucifies unbelief; and aids in prayer (Mt. 4:1–11; 17:14–21).All believers are supposed to fast, but no regulations or set rules are given as to how long or how often. That is determined by individual desire and needs (Mt. 9:14–15; 1Cor. 7:5; Acts 13:1–5). Men should fast when under chastening (2Sam. 12:16–23); under judgment (1Kings 21:27); in need (Ezra 8:21); in danger (Esther 4); when worried (Dan. 6:18); in trouble (Acts 27:9, 33) in spiritual conflict (Mt. 4:1–11); and when desperate in prayer (Acts 9).Chart: Thirty-five Bible Fasts:Who Fasted Length1. Ahab ? (1Ki. 21:27–29)2. Judah ? (2Chr. 20:1–25)3. Judah ? (Ezra 8:21–23)4. Ezra ? (Ezra 10:6–17)5. Nineveh ? (Jonah 3)6. Nehemiah ? (Neh. 1:4—Neh. 2:10)7. Jews ? (Est. 4:1–3; 9:1–3)8. David ? (Ps. 35:13; 69:10; 109:24)9. John’s disciples …? (Mt. 9:14–15)10. Anna ? (Lk. 2:37)11. Church at Antioch …? (Acts 13:1–5)12. Paul ? (Acts 27:9–11)13. Cornelius ? (Acts 10)14. Many churches ? (Acts 14:23)15. Paul ? (2Cor. 6:5; 11:27)16. David 1 day (2Sam. 3:35)17. Judah 1 day (Neh. 9:1–4)18. Judah 1 day (Jer. 36:6)19. Daniel 1 day (Dan. 9:3, 20–27)20. Pharisee 1 day (Lk. 18:9–14)21. Israel 1 day (Judg. 20:26–35)22. Israel 1 day (1Sam. 7:6–14)23. David 1 day (2Sam. 1:12)24. Darius 1 night (Dan. 6:18–24)25. Esther and Mordecai … . 3 days (Est. 4:13—Est. 9:3)26. Many people 3 days (Mt. 15:32–39)27. Paul 3 days (Acts 9:9, 17)28. David 7 days (2Sam. 12:16–23)29. Israel 7 days (1Sam. 31:13)30. Paul and 276 men.… 14 days (Acts 27:33–34)31. Daniel 21 days (Dan. 10:3–13)32. Moses 40 days (Dt. 9:9—Dt. 10:10)33. Joshua 40 days (Ex. 24:13–18; 32:15–17)34. Elijah 40 days (1Ki. 19:7–18)35. Jesus 40 days (Mt. 4:1–11)Since fasting and prayer are so prominent in the Bible, modern Christians should do more of this until they receive power with God over all the powers of the devil. Many things about fasting and its benefits are not known to modern men, but those through the ages who have been men of great prayer have also fasted much.
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