Popular Question – How Often Should a Christian Fast?
One of the most popular questions many Christians, even very seasoned Believers ask is, how often should Christians fast?
Whenever they ask this question, they desire to know not whether Christians should fast, but what is the repeat pattern of their fasting.
Similarly, today, whether you want to know, how often a Christian should fast or the whole congregation, I will assist you?
Thus, to answer this question we shall examine the fasting patterns of many people who fasted in the Bible. These include some from the early Church, and the lifestyle of its founder and leader, Jesus Christ.
We could learn much about fasting frequency from studying their fasting habits ! Join me as I explore quite a few of them.
If you would rather watch the video of this Bible Study, click this link. If not read on!
Table of Contents
What Is True Fasting According To The Bible?
I have addressed this question in a separate Bible Study and shall not duplicate it here.
Nevertheless, here is a link to it!
If you are interested, familiarize yourself with what qualifies as a fast, according to the Word of God, and not opinions.
Then return to this page to continue with this topic. A biblical comprehension of the nature of fasting will aid you to answer, how often should Christians fast?
However, as we explore fasting frequency, why not learn at what time Christians fast?
When Should Christians Fast According to The Bible?
Purposes of Fasting in the Bible
Again, the Bible is also silent on what time we should fast for it provides no directive on the timing of it!
- In the Scriptures, people fasted to influence the Hand of God to prevent death or to demonstrate mourning after a person or people have died (2 Samuel 1:12).
- However, death is not the only motivator for fasting. The Children of Israel fasted to indicate, not mourning, but something else, repentance!
- Queen Esther fasted to influence the outcome of a bold and unprecedented act that she planned to take.
- How often she fasted was a function of how long she fasted. However, both of these features are a result of why she fasted.
- What determined how often and how long Jesus; his twelve apostles; and the Church fasted?
Nevertheless, having said that, I want to know, as a Christian, what will influence how often you fast and for how long?
Why Is It Important to Fast?
Again, I have written about where we fast and how; therefore, I will not duplicate that here.
Even why Christians fast is another topic altogether. However, today my focus is on fasting frequency.
The Apostles Only Fasted After Jesus Left!
Even the Pharisees fasted often but Jesus’ followers did not fast at all while he was physically on the earth with them.
“And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto [Jesus], Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not?”.(Mark 2:18; Luke 5:33)
Israel as a nation, similar to the Church of Jesus Christ, as a body of Believers, fasted to indicate their ceasing from sin, repentance, and a turning to God, (1 Samuel 7:1-6).
How Often Should Christians Fast?
How often should we fast according to the Bible, requires much searching of the Word, and still you will not find a definite answer?
According to the Bible, how often should you fast? I have observed that there is no fixed fasting duration in the Bible that everyone follows.
But that it varies from a few hours to forty days and forty nights.
Nevertheless, there is much to learn from biblical examples regarding fasting frequency!
How Often Do Christians Fast?
Christian fasting is not for everyone. Fasting, in general, and Christian fasting, in particular, is always a spiritual activity.
The world has adopted and modified it to suit its diverse preferences, but their practices do not inform our fasting frequency!
Fasting is for Believers.
Seeing that the Lord expects us to fast, for there is no doubt about His expectations, then we must search the Scriptures to discover how often He desires us to fast (Matthew 6:16; Zechariah 7:5).
For Christians to conduct effective fasting they also need to know the dos and don’ts of Christian fasting.
Mainly, because ignorance of these could either make or break it!
How Often Should a Christian Fast According to the Bible?
According to the Holy Bible, how often a Christian fast is left up to each individual to decide. The Bible is silent on this.
However, below I shall explore biblical examples of fasting to learn from them.
An Evening of Fasting
Even non-Christians are aware of the potency of Christian fasting.
A heathen king demonstrated how often and how long Christians should fast.
“Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of [music] brought before him: and his sleep went from him.”(Daniel 6:18)
King Darius fasted as often and as long as was necessary to change Daniel’s situation and circumstances.
Consequently, he “passed the night fasting” (Daniel 6:18).
We could learn much from the king.
How Long Should Christians Fast?
As A Christian – Can I Fast From 6 am To 12 pm?
Yes, you could. This is a short fast; a 6-hour fast!
Cornelius fasted for a few hours. We don’t know when he started his fast, but if it were for more than a day there would be no need for him to indicate the hour when he ended it.
He fasted until the ninth hour. That’s a few hours of fasting.
“And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing.”Acts 10:30
Since he fasted for a few hours then there is nothing in the Bible preventing any of us from fasting from 6 AM to 12 PM, and this is not a partial fast!
There is no partial fasting in the Word of God. Fasting, as Believers, should always be mutually exclusive. We are either fasting or eating and drinking, but not both!
When we consider, how often should a Christian fast, we are compelled to consider also, how long should we fast? They are complementary.
Because how often we fast impacts how long we fast and vice-versa.
Cornelius loved to fast and he fasted often and that changed his life!
Nevertheless, up to this point, we have not discovered any Scripture that directly addresses, fasting frequency.
A Day of Fasting – How Many Days Should a Christian Fast?
Then there is a day of fasting. Or a day to fast to the Lord God. Neither the Bible nor Jesus Christ nor his disciples explicitly designates a specific day for Christians to fast.
However, the same is not true for the Jewish people. The Lord appoints specific days within a year that they should fast.
Without a doubt, the seventh month mentioned in the Scripture below refers to Yom Kippur.
“Speak unto all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying, When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me?”(Zechariah 7:5)
As a result, they honor Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah, and others.
Isaiah explicitly tells us that there is a day of fasting for the Jewish people (Isaiah 58:1-14).
They don’t dispute this; they honor them. It’s only Christians, and not all of us, who question the legitimacy and relevance of fasting.
They Fasted For Three Days and Three Nights
The Children of Israel, “gathered together [at] Mizpeh, and drew water, and poured it out before the Lord, and fasted on that day, and said there, We have sinned against the Lord,” (1 Samuel 7:6).
In a daring and desperate move to prevent the total execution of her people and herself, Queen Esther called for a three-day and three-night fasting.
How often she fasted shouldn’t be considered alone, because how long she fasted was equally important. Not to mention that her motive for fasting influenced both of those features.
Consequently, she instructed her people:
“Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.(Esther 4:16)
So we see, that fasting-frequency is important when discussed in tandem with other features of fasting like the duration of it.
It’s important to note that fasting was the decision of the Children of Israel and Queen Esther. They decided on the terms of their fasting mainly the frequency and the length of it. They were not instructed by anyone.
Fast Twice Weekly?
The following Scripture summarizes the righteousness of the Pharisees.
One of them explaining the frequency of their fasting says:
“I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess”.(Luke 18:12)
In the scripture above, that religious person fasted twice weekly. Should you, as a Believer, fast twice each week?
However, Jesus Christ guided his disciples concerning this.
He told them:
“Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”(Matthew 5:20)
But fasting frequency by itself is no indicator of anyone’s righteousness.
Seven Days and Seven Nights of Fasting
The gravity of Job’s situation dictated how often he fasted and for how long. He had just lost his ten children; his wealth; his health; and his wife was acting up. Subsequently, he fasted for seven days and seven nights.
“So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great,” (Job 2:13).
He was in mourning. And the Bible describes fasting as mourning!
Similarly, when the brave fighters of Jabeshgilead heard what happened to King Saul and his sons, it motivated them to act and to fast.
“And when all Jabeshgilead heard all that the Philistines had done to Saul, They arose, all the valiant men, and took away the body of Saul, and the bodies of his sons, and brought them to Jabesh, and buried their bones under the oak in Jabesh, and fasted seven days,”.(1 Chronicles 10:11-12; 1 Samuel 31:13)
Again, the severity and the urgency of their situation dictated, how often they fasted and for how long.
Fasting On Demand?
Our individual spiritual needs dictate how often we fast.
Thus a Christian should fast as often as is necessary to see the results he or she desires. Fasting on-demand is a Christian way of life.
How often we fast is a function of how perceptive we are spiritually. Are you as sharp, spiritually, as you once were?
If no, you need a good old abstinence fast to get you back on track. Are you a servant to a bad habit? Break it through fasting, (Isaiah 58:6).
This feature, besides the specific fast days that the Lord God instructs Israel to keep, determines how often they fast. They call a fast, (a solemn assembly), or proclaim a fast as the need arises.
They fasted on demand.
“And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah“.(2 Chronicles 20:3 & Jeremiah 36:9)
“Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly.”(Joel 1:14; 2:15)
Corporate or Group Fasting
Those scriptures relate to corporate or group fast. They specifically relate to Israel as a people.
However, the church could adopt similar principles because spiritually, by faith, we are all children of Abraham, (Galatians 3:7).
Therefore, any Believer could adopt their fasting for there are no restrictions in the Scriptures.
To Answer Your Question: How Often Should Christians Fast?
We have seen that the Holy Bible is silent on this. So, to answer this question, we must learn from examples. All of them reveal that there are no restrictions or directives governing how often Christians fast.
They could fast as often as their personal desires and circumstances would allow them to fast. There is no biblical mandate specifying fasting frequency.
Neither Jesus nor his Twelve Leaders nor the Church imposes any restrictions or issues any directives concerning how often or how long Christians should fast.
Seeing that the decision to embark on Christian fasting is personal; therefore, Believers are at liberty to choose and implement how often they fast at will.
How Often Did The Apostles Fast?
While Jesus Christ was on earth his followers never fasted. He fasted. But they only began to fast after his ascension into heaven (Matthew 9:14; Luke 5:33).
Subsequently, the Twelve Apostles fasted frequently. Apostles Peter and Paul wrote of how often they fasted as Christians, (2 Corinthians 11:27).
Apostle Paul also confessed to fasting frequently. He writes that he endures many things including “weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often; in cold and nakedness”, (2 Corinthians 11:27).
Think of your need to fast as you would the imperative to service frequently your car. A car does not need servicing every week.
However, should you drive more frequently and visit far and many places you may need to service it earlier or more frequently within a specific time. It’s a similar thing to how frequently we fast as Christians bit from a spiritual perspective.
Did the bride of Christ fast?
How Many Times Did Jesus Fast?
I know, someone is bursting to ask this question, “How many times did Jesus fast in the Bible”?
He never fasted often because of sin and not to mourn the demise of anyone.
He fasted once to commence his ministry and eventually fulfill the will of God.
Jesus fasted once for forty days and forty nights, as a man, to grow his faith in God.
Note too that Moses fasted forty days and forty nights twice to receive from the Lord God His important life-changing principles.
Consequently, should you fast for forty days and forty nights you won’t be the same person after, for it will radically change your life for the better.
In closing, note that in all these cases, the weight of their fasting determines the frequency and the length of it.
How Often Did Jesus Fast?
How often Jesus fasted wasn’t related to any of the previous reasons for fasting.
He had no need for frequent fasting as we do for he is free from all sins. But we all were born sinners.
Avoid using the biblical fast in a loose manner. Never utilize “fasting” to describe rational mature behaviors which have no genesis in the concept of the biblical fast.
For example, people who decide to wisely use their time for other activities besides being on Social Media, entertainment, sexual indulgences, and being on their phones. By abstaining from these activities they are not fasting.
This practice creates “Types of Fasting” that are not biblical and redundant. However, the informed Christian naturally abstains from doing them while executing his or her Christian fasting. But refraining from doing them, by itself, is not fasting.
How often Christians fast is always a correlation between the length of the fast and the motive for the fast in the first place.
Who Exemplifies How Often Christians Fast and For How Long?
Take King David for example, he fasted a few hours overnight, which exemplifies how often Christians fast and for how long.
“David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth,” (2 Samuel 12:16).
How often did David fast? He fasted seven times over a week. How long did he fast? He fasted overnight for each of those seven nights.
The first night the child took ill, he fasted all that night, (2 Samuel 12:15-16). However, the child didn’t die until the seventh day.
“And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died. And the servants of David feared to tell him that the child was dead: for they said, Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spake unto him, and he would not hearken unto our voice: how will he then vex himself, if we tell him that the child is dead?”.(2 Samuel 12:18)
How Long Do Christians Fast?
Even though the Bible didn’t tell us explicitly that he did, we deduced that David fasted every night for seven nights, because he never got up from the ground until the child died.
He only rose once, on the seventh day, (2 Samuel 12:20). Thus, the Bible does not inform how long should a christian fast? We must decide our own fasting duration!
The Bible imposes no restrictions on the length of a Christian fast. Similarly, neither Jesus nor his twelve apostles gave any directives concerning the duration of a fast.
So, how long Christians fast relates to how often they fast.
How Often Should You Fast Spiritually?
The duration of fasting has no biblical association with Lent.
Similarly, the nation of Israel fasted for an evening after the death of Saul and his son Jonathan to mourn their passing.
“[Israel] mourned and wept, and fasted until even, for Saul, and for Jonathan his son, and for the people of the Lord, and for the house of Israel; because they were fallen by the sword.”2 Samuel 1:12
You should fast as often as necessary to achieve your spiritual and natural objectives. Always bear in mind that a Christian fast is always a spiritual event!
How To Fast For God?
Recently, I stumbled across the phrase, how to fast for God many times on the Internet and the Web?
There is another version of this question too mainly, how do you fast for God?
If we understand why we fast then we will eliminate all questions like the caption and how to properly fast for God?
I’m not certain where it originates or the motive for it, I could only guess. However, we are not fasting for the Lord. This ritual is only for mortals
So, we don’t fast for God. We fast for ourselves or others. Read how to fast as a Christian here.
I know that one could say, fast to God as he or she speaks about biblical fasting (Zechariah 7:5).
However, we do direct all our prayers and worship to the Lord Jesus Christ.
What Determines The Length of Your Fasting?
How does your righteousness measure against that of the Pharisees? It’s not a competition, I know! Nevertheless, how does your fasting compare?
Here you will recognize how often you fast as Christians matter.
Could you manage to fast two times every week? Is it even necessary? What are your thoughts on this?
In your life, what event determines how often you fast?
Similarly, how has your Christian life been? Have you seen many temptations, trials, and tests? Is your faith in God strong, as when you first believed, or is it declining?
If your answer is no, even to the last question, then, I think, and the scriptures will agree with me, that it is time for fasting.
Nevertheless, as Believers, what determines the length of your fasting? This is not one answer for all. It’s personal and anything goes in this respect. The Bible is silent on it!
What Determines How Often Christians Fast?
Speaking from my personal experience, whenever I realize that my daily conversations are not aligned with the Bible, I treat that as one of the signs that I need to fast.
What do I mean by that? Later, when we study the motivation for fasting I shall address this in detail.
However, for now, suffice it to ask: are your conversations bordering on sin? Are you lying in them? Are you lusting (flirting)?
The absence of direct instructions on how often should Christians fast is not crucial. This does not indicate that fasting frequency is of little or no significance spiritually.
As a matter of fact, quite the opposite.
Would a person secretly overhearing them realize that they are Christians? Here, if the answer is no, then I think, you need to fast.
FAQs – How Often Should You Fast – Bible?
How Often Should You Fast According to The Bible?
The Bible does not impose any fasting burden on us. It doesn’t directly specify a fasting frequency that you should follow.
It leaves that decision for you to make!
How Long Is A Biblical Fast?
The Bible is silent on this; therefore, how long you fast depends on your personal and spiritual goals. The length of biblical fasts covers a spectrum of a few hours to 40 days and 40 nights.
More FAQs – How Often Should Christians Fast?
How Often Should I Fast As A Christian?
You asked how often should you fast as a Christian, but that depends on your personal spiritual needs and goals?
The same fasting frequency is not identical for all Christians. My wife and I have a specific time each month when we fast.
This is when we present our plans, aspirations, problems, and goals to God.
This pattern works very well for us, but you may follow a different frequency, and that is OK! Maintain whatever works for you!
How Often Did The Disciples Fast?
While Jesus was physically with them they never fasted. They only started to use this highly powerful spiritual weapon only after he ascended to heaven.
“Then came to [Jesus] the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?” Matthew 9:14.
Fasting to Get Closer to God?
So, now you know how often Christians should fast according to the Bible. However, in the Bible, the purpose of fasting is always a function of how often we fast.
Many Christians claim that fasting brings us closer and connects us to God. But they have yet to furnish biblical proof of this.
Why is Fasting Important to God?
Fasting is not important to God. He doesn’t need to fast. Fasting, any fasting, benefits us, NOT God!!!
Types of Christian Fasting?
In the Church, the body of Christ, do types of Christian fasting exist? And if they do, what are they?
Where in the Bible could we find them? In the Bible, there is only one type of fasting, abstinence.
Types of fasting do not exist in the Holy Bible!
You are either fasting or not fasting. It’s a mutually exclusive event. We cannot be eating and fasting simultaneously!
In closing, how often does a Christian fast only become important after the ascension of Jesus Christ and after the advent of the Holy Ghost?
Consequently, while he was here none of his disciples fasted.
Mainly because there was no need for the Church to fast while the Comforter was with them.