5 Bible Verses to Consider When You’re Fasting

If you choose to participate in a fast this year, this collection of Bible verses will help you remember the true purpose of fasting: to be fully dependent on God.

Susanna Fleming

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If I'm being honest, fasting has never topped my list of favorite spiritual disciplines. As someone who loves running, doesn’t sit still for very long, and is a self-proclaimed foodie, the thought of slowing down and skipping meals always seemed daunting. 

Beyond the physical challenges, I had a difficult time understanding the true purpose of fasting. I knew that Jesus emphasized this spiritual discipline, but the 'why' behind it remained unclear to me. That was, of course, until I actually began participating in this discipline myself. 

The Heart of Fasting: Dependence on God

As I began to practice fasting  – whether by giving up food, coffee, social media, shopping, or some other form of excess – I came to learn that fasting is a profound way to present our ordinary lives before God as an offering. Fasting isn’t just about giving up our comforts for the sake of religion. Instead, this practice reminds us that God is deeply involved in the everyday rhythms of our lives. He doesn’t just want to be involved in our morning devotionals or our time going to church on Sundays. He wants to be included in all of it! As we consciously strip away our dependence on routines and comforts, we come to understand – on a visceral level –  that God Himself is the one who sustains us!

5 Bible Verses to Reflect on While Fasting

As we kick off the new year, many churches and individuals are participating in intentional periods of fasting. Whether you love to fast or find it to be a significant challenge, this ancient Christian practice is both important and transformative. If you choose to participate in a fast this year, this collection of Bible verses will help you remember the true purpose of fasting: to be fully dependent on God. 

Matthew 6:16-18

"When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do... your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

In Matthew 6:16-18, Jesus encourages His followers to avoid making a show of their fasting. Instead, He instructs us to fast in secret. Importantly, this does not mean that we cannot tell anyone we are fasting. The Bible offers many instances in which people fast in the context of community (see Ezra 8:21-23), and that necessarily means it wasn’t an entirely secret endeavor.

Ultimately, the heart of Jesus’ message in Matthew 6:16-18 is that fasting is about humility. It leaves no room for bragging about how much we have given up for God, and it leaves no room for endlessly complaining about our sacrifice. Fasting should inspire humility within us and remind us what God has done on our behalf! It should be our joy to surrender even the smallest details of our lives before Him, trusting that He will meet us where we are. 

Ezra 8:23

"So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and He answered our prayer."

The Bible is overflowing with examples of how communal fasting led to miracles and answered prayer, and Ezra 8:23 is one of them! This verse reminds us that when we come together as a community to seek God's guidance, He both listens and responds. 

Are you fasting for grace or clarity? Are you fasting as a family, a small group, or a church body? As you fast and pray, remember that you're part of a larger body of believers, all seeking God's will together.

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Isaiah 58:6-7

"Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?..."

While fasting certainly draws us closer to God on an individual level, this spiritual discipline is not simply about personal breakthrough. Isaiah 58:6-7 points to this truth: fasting is also about action. 

When we get too comfortable in life, it can be easy to turn a blind eye to the needs of the people around us. When we get too focused on our individual spirituality, it can be tempting to bask in self-abasement or self-righteousness. Instead, we are called to fast so we can stand with the poor and stand against the injustices of the world. As you fast, ask God to open your eyes to the people He is calling you to love and serve. 

Matthew 4:4

"Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God."

Fasting is not simply about abstaining from food or earthly pleasures; it is about feasting on the Word of God. If you’ve grown up in the Church or been a Christian for any number of years, this language may sound cliche or a bit watered down. Even still, it is a beautiful and important truth. God has given us the words of scripture so that we can learn what His voice actually sounds like. As we feast on His Word, we are spiritually and emotionally sustained by His truth and goodness. 

In Psalm 119:103, the Psalmist proclaims that God’s words taste sweet - that they are sweeter than honey. Matthew 4:4 tells us that we don’t live by bread alone but by every word that comes from God’s mouth. If you aren’t now hungry for the sweet and sustaining Word of God, fasting will help you get there. 

Philippians 4:6–7

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."

Philippians 4:6-7 has always stood out to me as a bold contrast to our modern, fast-paced lifestyle. Is it possible to truly be free of anxiety? Is it possible to truly be grateful in the midst of life’s challenges?  This scripture challenges us to trust in God's grace, embracing a spirit of thanksgiving even in the midst of uncertainty. 

While this passage may not directly speak to fasting, it beautifully complements it, reminding us that fasting should be accompanied by prayer. It’s about balancing our worries with gratitude, knowing that when we fast and pray, we open ourselves to God's peace and grace.

Conclusion

Wherever you are in your personal fasting journey, I pray that these verses and reflections spur you on as you surrender your entire self to God! 

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