types-of-biblical-fasting

How Many Types of Biblical Fasting Are In The Bible?

  • Post author:
  • Post category:Fasting
  • Post last modified:May 9, 2024
  • Reading time:27 mins read

Sharing is caring!

Types of Biblical Fasting: A Comprehensive Guide

Are there types of biblical fasting; what are they and, in the holy Bible, who practiced them?

If we cannot identify anyone, in the Bible, who practiced the specific type of Christian fasting, then we shouldn’t be doing it.

These are pertinent questions many contemporary Christians need answers for and I’m here to supply them!

Fasting, a practice deeply embedded in many cultures and religions, holds a special place in Christianity.

In this comprehensive guide, I will explore the various types of biblical fasting found in the Bible, show their significance, and how they have been practiced historically and in modern times.

Introduction to Types of Biblical Fasting

In this Bible Study, I’m discussing fasting. Now, whomever fasted and ate or drank while fasting? Certainly, no one in the Bible.

Thus, when the Bible or I speak about fasting we are not talking about any form of consumption. That means no food and no drink.

Do you know how difficult it is to find a photo of the types of biblical fasting without any foods or drinks in it? It’s almost impossible. You may have to create your own!

types-of-biblical-fasting
Types of Christian Fasting?

Defining “Types” – In Types of Biblical Fasting

To reduce confusion, let’s define “types”. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, one of the meanings of type, as a noun, is belonging to “a particular kind, class, or group“.

I have been studying the Holy Bible for over forty years, at the time of writing, and I have discovered something very interesting about fasting.

It depicts fasting as two major kinds, classes or groups: as a body of people or as an individual. Consequently, I could describe these as two types of biblical fasting: Corporate and Personal.

What Is Corporate Fasting?

The biblical corporate fasting is when a leader, (King, Priest, or Prophet), calls a group or a nation of people to fast for a predetermined time for a specific objective.

In contemporary times, this leader is usually the Pastor of an assembly. Can you imagine the spiritual benefits a country would accrue if its leader would “decree” a fast day for everyone including him or herself?

For example, Esther fasted for three days and three nights with her maids and all of Israel. This was a Corporate Fast.

Similarly, the First Century Church fasted and prayed, as a unit, and consecrated Barnabas and Saul, according to the directives of the Holy Ghost.

That was an example of a Corporate Fasting also.

What Is Personal Fasting?

This is when an individual decides that he or she should fast about a particular personal objective for a predetermined period.

Major Differences Between These Two Fasting Types!

The Corporate Fast is not different, in nature, from the Personal Fast. The major differences are who calls it and the number of individuals involved in it!

But it is identical in all other respects.

Therefore, I want to emphatically state here and now that there are only two classes of biblical fasting Corporate and Individual.

Now, I’m not speaking about variations of each. Every fasting that you will encounter in the Bible is either Corporate or Personal.

Additionally, all the features of types of biblical fasting are common to both.

What Does The Bible Say About Corporate Fast?

  1. Sanctioned by the Lord
  2. It has one objective
  3. It’s for everybody
  4. It’s duration is fixed
  5. Weeping & mourning before God
  6. Everyone offers Supplication Prayers
  7. There is no eating or drinking
  8. Held at a specified location

13 “Gird yourselves, and lament, ye priests: howl, ye ministers of the altar: come, lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God: for the meat offering and the drink offering is withholden from the house of your God.”

14 “Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the Lord your God, and cry unto the Lord,”

15 “Alas for the day! for the day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come.”

Joel 1:13-15

What To Do During a Corporate Prayer and Fasting?

  1. Fast together in the same place.
  2. Fast about the same fasting goal
  3. Pray together


“So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.”

“For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.”

“And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water:”

“But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.”

Jonah 3:5-8

Individual Fasting Features

The features of Individual or Personal Fasting are similar if not identical to Corporate Fasting.

Another major difference between them is the length of the fast. Most Corporate fasting, in Bible Times, was for a maximum of seven days.

On the one hand, Personal Fasting duration could run from a few hours to forty days and forty nights.

Types of Biblical Fasting Duration

  1. King Darius fasted overnight for Daniel.
  2. Moses fasted for 40 days and 40 nights
  3. Daniel fasted for 21 Days
  4. Nicodemus fasted for a few hours
  5. Jesus Christ fasted for 40 Days and 40 Nights

Other Features of Personal Biblical Fast

Besides the spectrum of fasting duration that distinguishes a personal fast from a Corporate one, there are some qualities that are common to both.

Pay Special Attention To These Types of Biblical Fasting

1. Absolute Fast

The absolute fast, also known as a supernatural fast or the total fast, is an intense form of fasting.

It involves abstaining from both food and water. This type of fast is rare and typically short-term, often lasting no more than three days.

Examples in the Bible include Moses’ fasting when he received the Ten Commandments and Jesus’ 40-day fast in the wilderness. Exodus 34:28 and Luke 4:1-4.

This fast is considered a direct and profound seeking of God’s presence and intervention.

2. Normal Fast

The normal fast, (or Standard Fast – No food only liquid Matthew 4:2), commonly practiced, involves abstaining from all food, solid or liquid but allows the intake of water.

This type of fast focuses on dedicating mealtime to prayer and reading the Bible, seeking a deeper spiritual communion with God.

Jesus’ 40-day fast in the wilderness, although an absolute fast in nature, is often cited as an example of a normal fast due to its length and spiritual significance.

3. Partial Fast

A partial fast is a form of fasting where one restricts certain foods or eats at limited times.

The most famous example of this in the Bible is the Daniel Fast, where the Prophet Daniel refrained from “royal food” and wine, choosing vegetables and water instead.

Partial Fast – No Choice Foods or Meats Daniel 1:8-16

This type of fasting is often used for extended periods and is seen as a way to discipline the body and clear the mind for more focused prayer.

4. Rotational Fast

A rotational fast involves abstaining from certain food groups or types on a rotating schedule. While not directly mentioned in the Bible, this method is derived from biblical principles of self-discipline and moderation. It’s a more flexible approach and can be adapted to individual health needs and spiritual goals.

5. Soul Fast

A soul fast is a modern adaptation where individuals abstain from things other than food, such as certain habits, entertainment, or social media. While not traditional, this fast recognizes that modern lifestyles may require different forms of fasting to achieve spiritual focus and discipline.

I Made Up All The Types of Biblical Fasting Above

All of the information displayed above represents how the World and writers see Biblical Fasting today. They have no personal experience with it and they are unable to identify it.

Therefore, they compose different types of biblical fasting to confuse those who don’t understand fasting.

However, allow me a few minutes to clarify these statements.

I shall start with the last type of biblical fast above, mainly the “Soul Fast”. The first thing I want you to know is that there is no Soul Fast.

It is a construct of someone’s imagination. It got its genesis from the ignorance of unbelievers’ concerning what constitutes biblical fasting.

If they weren’t ignorant of the true Christian fast they would have realized that all of the “things other than food” that they abstained from while on a Soul Fast, are all automatically excluded from our routine when we do a biblical fast.

Please, read the Dos And Don’ts of Christian Fasting for more information and clarity.

The Church Like The Nation …..

The Church like the nation has always been an incubator for corporate fasting. It was the frequent Church Corporate fasting that taught me how to personal fast!

Consequently, every biblical fasting in the Good Book is either a personal or corporate event.

Nehemiah’s, Daniel’s, David’s, Moses’, and Jesus’ fastings were personal. On the other hand, Nineveh, Esther, Job, and ??? were corporate fastings.

Nevertheless, irrespective of whether the fasting is corporate or personal there are always components that are common to both.

When I think of types of Biblical fasting the significant difference is the length of the fasting.

Types of Biblical Fasting That We Talk About

Next, let’s discuss the next type of Biblical fasting I wrote about above, namely the Partial Fast.

Again, there is no Partial Fasting in the Holy Bible.

Remember that most of what we know about fasting comes from the Old Testament. This means that we have adopted it from Judaism.

The Church and its early leaders were all Jewish. Today, ask any Jewish person and the same will inform you that when they fast, they fast. They don’t eat or drink.

I have seen pastors making the mistake of explaining that Jesus did a partial fast. But they err not knowing the Scriptures, Luke 4:1-2; Matthew 4:-1-2.

The Holy Spirit moved Jesus, immediately after his baptism by John the Baptist in the River Jordan, to go into the desert to be tempted by Satan.

This means that Jesus did not plan his trip into the desert. The desire to do so happened on demand.

It also means that he had no food or water with him. Where would he get water in the desert? An oasis?

The Bible never mentioned any.

Additionally, if Jesus drank but didn’t eat he wouldn’t be so weak that angels had to “minister to him and strengthen him”.

Never use one verse of Scripture to teach any doctrine. It’s not safe. It is dangerous. If you do, like those who postulate partial fasting, you possess no scriptural support except for one.

Do not use one scripture verse on any topic to teach a doctrine. You need at least two. Scripture must support scripture.

The Daniel Fast

They declared that Daniel’s Fast was partial. They say it was because he never ate the royal food and drank its wine. He ate no Choice Food.

But I ask, when has fasting evolved to include eating and drinking? We are either fasting or eating and drinking.

If Daniel ate how could that be fasting? As a matter of fact, Daniel chapter one does not record him fasting.

The so-called Daniel Fast was not a fast! He did not abstain from anything. He refused one but accepted and ate another.

So, now, refusal is fasting? If I refused my wife’s stew peas but drank her soup, would I be fasting?

The answer, based on their argument of those proponents of Daniel’s Fast is, yes. They would say, you are fasting her stew pease.

But Biblical fasting never includes eating or drinking in any form.

Is This Type of Fasting Biblical?

The Normal Fast? These Bible Teachers know how to write but not how to study the Bible. There is no Normal Fasting in the Bible.

They cite Matthew 4:2 as evidence that Jesus was hungry but not thirsty after his fasting for forty days and forty nights because he ate nothing but drank fluids.

They are spiritual babes teaching about fasting.

“And when [Jesus] had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.”

Matthew 4:2

These Bible Teachers who have no experience with biblical fasting don’t realize that when you are on a long fast you are neither hungry nor thirsty.

While you are fasting you will not be hungry. Similarly, while you are on the fast, you will not be thirsty.

However, after fasting you are both hungry and thirsty. This happened to Jesus. But they don’t know this because they have never fasted.

“Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days [Jesus] did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered.”

Luke 4:2

If they comprehend what “fasted” meant, above, they wouldn’t say and teach that!

This reveals that they know nothing about how to study their Bible or how to fast.

Spiritual Babes Teaching Biblical Fasting

These spiritual babes who are teaching the Word of God failed to realize that Luke also explained the same incident.

These expositions, Matthew’s and Luke’s, were not to inform us about the components of fasting.

By this time, we should have known that even though the Bible said that Jesus ate nothing, our knowledge of fasting, should inform us that he drank nothing also.

Mainly, because there is no precedent in the Scriptures to support that he did. No Jewish person, on a personal or corporate fasting, ever ate or drank anything.

Therefore, Jesus wouldn’t. He came to fulfill the Scriptures not break them.

Both Matthew and Luke focused on “the bread” because that’s what the Old Testament informed us about.

The Western World And Fasting

I see two broad categories of fasting in the Holy Book: The Personal Fast and the Corporate Fast. The nation of Israel, the Jews, and the Body of Christ, the Church, do Corporate fasting.

However, individuals from both of these two groups undertake Personal Fasting.

The Jewish Corporate fast emanates from their culture. They were socialized to fast as a people. Many of their Kings would call a “solemn assembly” or a fast when there was a universal problem that affected all the people.

And everybody and (sometimes all the animals) would fast.

That is not the culture of the Western World specifically the United States. Here, our leaders are ignorant of biblical fasting components, benefits, and execution.

Additionally, even if they did call a fast who would obey that call? Who would fast? Hardly anyone because the citizens of the Western World were not socialized to fast in a Corporate or Personal setting.

Corporate fasting strengthens community bonds and unites participants in a common spiritual goal.

Conclusion

However, when it comes to the biblical fast or the Christian fast there are no “various forms”. There are no variations of it.

There is no absolute, normal, partial, rotational, soul fast, or any other adjective to describe biblical fasting.

There is just the biblical fasting model.

In other words, there are no types of biblical fasting. Biblical fasting is constant.

It always possesses the same components: fixed fasting duration; the punishing of the soul; one fasting goal or objective; and abstainace from foods, fluids, and sexual intercourse, while seeking God.

The World has modified it to suit their needs but the Church will not. We will abide by its biblical mandates because it is one of our most potent spiritual and natural weapons!

Leave a Reply