Biblical Foundations -Christian Fasting Rules

Christian Fasting Rules And Their Biblical Foundations That You Need To Know!

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  • Post last modified:July 3, 2024
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No Listing of Dos & Don’ts

You will never find any explicit Christian fasting rules in the Holy Bible. There are no listings of dos and don’ts concerning this crucial Christian ritual.

So, what will we uncover and how do we know these are genuine?

In this short Bible Study, I will discuss the nature of Christian fasting rules, their importance; what violating them means; their biblical foundations, and how knowledge of them will make your fasting more powerful!

What is Fasting in Christianity?

Here, when I talk about “Fasting Rules” I’m discussing “regulating principles” or “standard of judgment” upon which Christian fasting rests.

They are the criteria by which we assess whether an abstinence episode is a fast or not!

Therefore any violation of them changes the nature of our soul affliction and makes it into something else.

It’s a Christian discipline that nobody ever told us that we must do. However, we soon realize that we can never attain some things until we do it!

Is It Important To Have Christian Fasting Rules?

Now, having established what are Christian fasting rules, let’s examine why they are necessary. It is absolutely essential to have fasting guidelines for Believers because without them there are no standards to assess a fast.

This means violating these guides disqualifies any time spent in mourning before the Lord God as acceptable. It was not done “unto Him”.

Additionally, their presence ensures that when Christians fast they know what things to avoid and what not to do to ensure that their time is acceptable to God.

Hence, these Christian fasting rules are not tasks we think about and do. They must come from the Bible.

They are not opinions but the true Word of God!

Biblical Foundations

This means that at least two persons in the Bible have done it. Additionally, it also means that you could find people fasting in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.

Further, Believers in the Early Church practiced it and today we continue what they started in context.

Even though many of the people of the Bible fasted for different reasons, however, all these events have many common features.

Biblical Foundations of Fasting

  • Overview of fasting in the Old Testament
    • Key examples: Moses (Exodus 34:28), David (Psalm 35:13)
    • The residents of Nineveh & Israel fasted respectively (Jonah 3:5-8 & Ezra 8:21).
      • They refrained from eating or drinking
      • Repented and
      • Turned to God
      • Nehemiah fasted (Nehemiah 1:4).
      • However, Jesus gave the Church no such directions to fast. So, we shouldn’t use the communal or group fasting of Israel, as a nation, as the basis for fasting in the Church. They are not similar.
      • Instead, focus on individuals, small groups, or on a person, for example, Daniel.
      • The Lord God instructed the nation of Israel to fast at specific times during a year. Yet, he never gave the Church a day to fast!
  • Overview of fasting in the New Testament
    • Key examples: Jesus (Matthew 4:1-2), Early Church (Acts 13:2-3) and
    • Apostle Paul
  • What is the purpose and significance of fasting in the Bible?

Key Christian Fasting Rules

Since there are no explicit Christian fasting rules in the Holy Bible and Christianity; therefore, you will not find any Scriptures that instruct you to do this or not do that while fasting.

So much so, that Jesus Christ never instructed his twelve Leaders or the Church to fast.

You may ask, what’s the point of this Bible Study then? Even though the instructions are not explicit don’t mean they are not present or important.

Below are a few Christian fasting rules I arrived at through examination and comparison of the Scriptures.

Biblical Foundations -Christian Fasting Rules

8 Rules of a Christian Fast

Every fast, in both the OT and the NT, followed these rules.

Rule 1: Abstinence

  • From food, drink, and sexual intimacy.
  • If abstinence is absent then your fasting is not Christian.
  • Abstinence ensures that we afflict our souls.

Rule 2: Afflict The Soul

  • The affliction of the soul is a feature of every Christian Fast.
  • The Lord God desires that we punish our souls. He expressed that desire in the Scripture below.
  • Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours.” Isa 58:3c. In this quotation, the Lord informed Israel about that. There is no pleasure in fasting.
    • Consequently, one of the descriptions the Holy Bible used for fasting, especially in the OT, is “solemn assembly“, (Joel 1:14 & 2:15).
  • We cannot be punishing our souls and enjoying ourselves simultaneously.
  • Want to know how to afflict your soul?

If we don’t practice abstinence we will never achieve the affliction of our souls! However, the importance of this goes well beyond fasting!

Rule 3: To The Lord

Let’s fast “unto the Lord” and not to man. Direct all our fasting efforts towards God until He accepts them.

  • To whom is your fast directed? Is it to Allah, Mohammed, or Jesus Christ? Let’s fast to God through Jesus Christ.
  • Many people fast. Today, more none Christians and Unbelievers are fasting. Are they fasting to God?
  • If we are fasting to God we must do so in the knowledge of His Word to benefit from it and to please Him. We can’t serve God in ignorance.

If God doesn’t accept our fasting the whole event is pointless. We will not gain any spiritual benefits from doing it!

Rule 4: Preparation

  • Biblical reference: Joel 2:12.
  • There is no instance of preparation for fasting in the Holy Bible. You will not find it in either the Old or New Testament.
  • Because fasting (in both of these two divisions of the Bible) was on demand.
  • The people fasted when their situations and circumstances warranted it.
  • They never planned their fasting.

Rule 5: Types of Fasts

  • Because Christian fasts are always abstinence, there can be no types of Christian fasts.
  • There is no Absolute Fast: No food or drink
  • No Partial fast: Restriction of certain foods or meals
  • Neither any Daniel fast: Based on Daniel 1:12.

Rule 6: Duration

  • Every Christian Fast has a definite start and stop time which the Believer fasting determines.
  • A few hours: from 4 to 12 hours.
  • Common fasting periods: 1 day, 3 days, 7 days, 14 days, 21 days, and 40 days.

Rule 7: Conduct During Fasting

  • Prayer and meditation: Matthew 6:16-18
  • Bible reading, praise and worship
  • Crying, weeping, and holy abandonment before God!

Rule 8: Separation

To ensure abstinence and the affliction of the soul separation is crucial. For this reason, people who practice Christian Fasting isolate themselves while fasting.

  • Having abstained while afflicting our souls we separate ourselves from others and fast in secret to achieve our fasting objective.
  • But if separation is not possible physically we could achieve it spiritually.
  • We should conduct every Christian Fast in Secret. Don’t make any announcements and tell the whole world that you are fasting.
  • This is true and achievable even when you must work and fast simultaneously.

If we violate any of these Christian Fasting Rules then, we no longer have a Christian fast.

Could Knowledge of Christian Fasting Rules Make Your Fasting More Powerful?

Let’s for a moment consider how a few biblical giants fasted and whether their knowledge of the guiding principles of it made them successful at it.

Consequently, let’s observe Daniel, David, Nehemiah, and Paul as they fasted. All these men lived in different epochs, yet all their fastings had identical features.

One of the reasons their fasting was acceptable to God and successful for them, in that they achieved their respective objectives, they knew the guiding principles that dictated their fasting.

They knew what would please the Lord and what would displease Him, hence they chose to delight Him via fasting!

If we serve God in ignorance we cannot guarantee our lives or our fasting will please Him.

When we know the Christian Fasting Rules we will not think that fasting brings us closer to God nor will we ponder on the notion that it aligns us with His heart.

Instead, we will know how to fast to please our Lord God.


Other religions have fasting rules similar to Christianity’s fasting rules. For example, in Islam, their practitioners abstain from sexual intimacy during fasting similar to Christians!

Many, if not all the features of a corporate fast apply to a Christian individual fasting. Thus, many of the examples from the OT are of groups of people fasting.

However, you will observe that everyone who fasted, in the Bible, abstained, afflicted their soul, fasted to the Lord, failed to prepare for the fast, and separated themselves from others.

As a result, I will tell you that abstinence and the affliction of the soul are the two primary fasting Christian rules we must never violate.

If they are absent we have not fasted to the Lord God.

Christian fasting rules are not a list of dos and don’ts but a few biblical regulating principles that guide the operation of our fasting.

They are important because when we adhere to them our fasting please God. Additionally, they exist as standards of judgment to guide us and prevent violation of them.

These are not opinions but principles biblical stalwarts have practiced and have seen phenomenal results.

Finally, if we emulate them we cannot go wrong and we will have similar results to theirs!

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