Losing weight, reaching a higher level spiritually, wanting to receive something from God; there are endless reasons for fasting. The reason differs per person and there also isn’t just one way to do it. So, what is fasting?
What is fasting in general?
For what reason and in what way someone fasts, differs a lot. But in the basis it always is the same. When you fast, you don’t eat, drink or do anything for a certain amount of time.
What is fasting in Christianity?
Also within Christianity the reasons and ways of fasting differ per person. Some people fast because they want to ask something from God and they really want to receive it. Others seek God’s will for their lives and fast to find out what it is. Still others would like to work on their relationship with God and fast to have more focus on this. And there are so many more reasons.
The most well-known and oldest form of fasting is not eating at all for a period of time. But today, fasting is practiced in many different ways. For example, you can stop snacking, eating meat, drinking alcohol, watching Netflix or playing games for a period of time. In every way that fasting is practiced within christianity, one thing keeps coming back. That is that the focus of fasting is on God. You stop doing something you used to do every day. So you are constantly reminded that you are fasting and therefore that the focus should be on God during this period.
Fasting and praying
These are two things that, according to the Bible, go hand in hand. When you fast, you focus on God and the way we can talk to God is through prayer. Praying is something most Christians do on a daily basis, but when you fast, you take more time and focus even more on communication with God. Within Christianity it is believed that prayer is very powerful. Reading the Bible also encourages you to pray. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 it even says: “Pray without ceasing.”
The result of fasting can be very different. There are stories of people who have experienced very special things while fasting. Many people find that it gives their faith life an enormous boost and they feel closer to God. But there are also people who see little or no results. It doesn’t have to be, it can also just be a time of dedication without major consequences.
Fasting in the Bible
Fasting occurs regularly in the Bible. A well-known story is that of Esther. She fasted to ask something of God, together with all the people of Israel. She is in a very difficult situation and therefore she has to ask her husband, the king, something. At that time and in that culture, that was just not possible. If she went to the king without an invitation and he was in a bad mood, she might just be killed. Esther then asked all the people to fast with her for three days so that it would go well. And luckily it went well! Want to read the whole story? You can do that here.
Do you prefer watching instead of reading? Watch the Sandy Tale about Esther!
Jesus and fasting
Jesus also fasted. He fasted for forty days before he started his mission. He did that to achieve a good focus on God. The story of Jesus is about a battle between good and evil. Evil is called the devil or Satan in the Bible. Fasting helps to clarify this distinction. He tries to draw Jesus away from his goal by promising him various nice things, as long as Jesus no longer trusts in God, but in himself. Anything to stop Jesus. Seeing through his plan, Jesus fends off any attack, eventually sending the devil away. You can read the whole story here.
Do you know where the word breakfast comes from?
Did you know that the word “breakfast” comes from fasting? When you sleep you obviously don’t eat for a while, so you kind of fast. In the morning you ‘break’ that fast. Break fasting: breakfast.