What Does the Bible say about Fasting on the Sabbath – The Bible speaks extensively about fasting, not exclusively on the Sabbath, a day of rest. In the Old Testament, the Sabbath is described as a day to abstain from work, but it is also described as a day of devotion and prayer.
The prophet Isaiah said, “Even on the Sabbath day, keep your hands from doing any evil work” (Isaiah 58:13). Fasting on the Sabbath is not only a way to abstain from food and drink but also a way to draw closer to God.
In the New Testament, Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights in the wilderness (Matthew 4:2). The scripture also mentions that the apostles Practiced fasting (Acts 13:2-3). Through fasting on the Sabbath, believers are able to honor God’s day of rest and focus on prayer and spiritual growth.
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What Does the Bible say about Fasting on the Sabbath
The Bible is a rich source of wisdom on the topics of fasting and prayer. In the Old Testament, it is clear that fasting was an important part of biblical Israelite faith and practice. In the New Testament, Jesus and the apostles demonstrate the importance of fasting for spiritual reasons.
However, the Bible does not explicitly address fasting on the Sabbath day. Several passages in the Old and New Testaments suggest that fasting on the Sabbath was frowned upon by God, and the general consensus among biblical scholars is that fasting on the Sabbath should be avoided. However, there are some exceptions to this rule that might be applicable in certain cases. Ultimately, the best course of action is to prayerfully consider all of the relevant scriptures and make a decision that is respectful to God and in line with His will.
What is Fasting?
Fasting is a spiritual practice where a person abstains from eating, drinking, and/or engaging in any other physical activity for a specific period of time. Fasting is a part of many religions and is used as a way to practice self-control, humility, and is also believed to bring a person closer to God. Fasting is also often used as a form of repentance, purification, and a way to strengthen the spirit.
When Does the Bible Require Fasting on the Sabbath?
The Bible does not explicitly state when fasting should take place on the Sabbath, but it does provide some guidance. For example, Exodus 16:23-30 tells us that the children of Israel were to abstain from eating, drinking, and any other activity on the Sabbath day. This could suggest that fasting on the Sabbath is a way to honor the Lord.
Where Does the Bible Require Fasting?
Throughout the Bible, fasting is mentioned in many different places. For example, in the book of Daniel, Daniel fasted for 21 days to seek the Lord’s guidance. In the book of Leviticus, the Lord commanded the Israelites to fast on the Day of Atonement. Additionally, Jesus fasted for 40 days and nights in the wilderness.
How to Fast on the Sabbath According to the Bible?
The Bible does not provide a clear-cut instruction on how to fast on the Sabbath, but it does provide some guidance. For example, in Matthew 6:16-18, Jesus tells us that when we fast, we should not do it in a way that will draw attention to ourselves. Additionally, Deuteronomy 14:28-29 instructs us to abstain from certain kinds of food on the Sabbath.
Certainly. The practice of fasting in the Bible is frequently linked with repentance, seeking guidance, or expressing grief. It serves as an outward expression of an inward commitment or act of self-denial for spiritual purposes.
Guidance on Biblical Fasting Given in the Bible
|Reference||Context or Occasion||Specific Guidance or Principle|
|Isaiah 58:3-7||False fasting and true fasting||Fasting should go beyond self-denial; it should lead to acts of kindness, freeing the oppressed, and meeting others’ needs.|
|Joel 2:12-13||Call to repentance||Fasting should be combined with weeping, mourning, and heartfelt repentance.|
|Esther 4:16||Seeking God’s favor in adversity||Fasting accompanied by seeking the intervention and favor of God.|
|2 Samuel 12:16-23||Repentance and seeking mercy||David fasted and prayed while his child was ill, but ceased when the child passed, recognizing God’s sovereignty.|
|Ezra 8:21-23||Seeking protection||Fasting to seek God’s protection on a journey, showing complete dependence on God.|
|Matthew 6:16-18||Proper attitude in fasting||Fasting should be done discreetly, not for show, but with sincerity, and God will reward the genuine act of fasting.|
|Acts 13:2-3||Seeking guidance in ministry||Fasting and praying before making major ministry decisions.|
|Matthew 9:14-15||Question about Jesus’ disciples||Jesus explains that while He is with the disciples, they need not fast, but a time will come when fasting is appropriate.|
|Acts 14:23||Appointing elders||Fasting and praying when appointing leaders in the church.|
- Genuine Intent: One of the main emphases in the Bible concerning fasting is the sincerity of the act. It is not to be done for show or for gaining approval from others. As seen in Isaiah and Matthew, the heart’s intent behind the fast is more valuable than the act itself.
- Purposeful Act: Fasting in the Bible is often tied to specific purposes, be it seeking God’s guidance, protection, mercy, or expressing repentance. It’s an act of spiritual intensity and focus.
- Combined with Prayer: Almost every instance of fasting in the Bible is associated with prayer. This combination shows that fasting is not just about self-denial but about deepening one’s relationship and communication with God.
Fasting, as portrayed in the Bible, serves as a spiritual discipline to draw closer to God, demonstrate dependence on Him, and express sincere repentance or seeking. As with all biblical teachings, understanding the context and purpose is paramount.
The Significance of Fasting on the Sabbath in the Bible
In the Bible, fasting on the Sabbath is seen as a way to honor the Lord and draw closer to Him. It is also used as a form of repentance and self-denial. Additionally, fasting can be a way to recognize our own need for spiritual nourishment and to focus on God’s presence in our lives.
Fasting in the Old Testament
In the Old Testament, fasting is mentioned in many places. For example, in the book of Esther, Esther fasted for three days in order to seek the Lord’s guidance. Additionally, in the book of Joel, the Lord commands the Israelites to fast in order to seek repentance and forgiveness.
- Moses: In Exodus 34:28, Moses fasted for 40 days and nights on Mount Sinai while he was receiving the Ten Commandments. During this time, he did not eat or drink anything.
- Elijah: In 1 Kings 19:8, Elijah fasted for 40 days and 40 nights as he was travelling from Mount Horeb to the city of Jerusalem. He did not eat or drink anything during this time.
- Daniel: In Daniel 9:3, Daniel fasted for three weeks. During this time, he ate no meat or bread and drank no wine.
- Ezra: In Ezra 8:21-23, Ezra and his companions fasted for three days as they were praying for God’s protection on their journey. They did not eat or drink anything during this time.
- Esther: In Esther 4:16, Esther called for a three-day fast in order to ask God for help in her situation. She and all the Jewish people in the city of Susa abstained from food and drink during this time.
- David: In 2 Samuel 12:16, David fasted for seven days after his son died. He ate no food and drank no water during this time.
- Isaiah: In Isaiah 58:6, Isaiah encouraged the people to fast as an expression of repentance and humility before God. He suggested that they abstain from food and drink for a certain period of time.
Fasting in the New Testament
In the New Testament, fasting is mentioned in many different places. For example, Jesus fasted for 40 days and nights in the wilderness. Additionally, the Lord commanded the disciples to fast when He was about to be taken away from them (Matthew 9:14-15).
- Jesus’s Fast: In Matthew 4:2, it is stated that Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights in the wilderness. This fast was a spiritual act of preparing for his ministry and was also a time of prayer and contemplation. This is one of the most well-known examples of fasting in the New Testament.
- The Disciples’ Fast: In Acts 13:2-3, it is mentioned that the disciples fasted and prayed before they appointed Barnabas and Saul as missionaries. This act of fasting was to ask for God’s guidance and protection in their mission.
- Cornelius’s Fast: In Acts 10:30, it is mentioned that Cornelius, a gentile, fasted and prayed before he received a vision from an angel. This fast was a sign of his faith and belief in God.
- Paul’s Fast: In 2 Corinthians 6:5, Paul mentions that he had fasted often in his life. This was a sign of his dedication to God and his commitment to serve Him.
- The Church’s Fast: In Acts 14:23, it is mentioned that the church fasted and prayed before they sent out Barnabas and Saul on their mission. This was a sign of their faith and belief in God.
- The Widow’s Fast: In Luke 2:37, it is mentioned that the widow Anna fasted and prayed day and night in the temple. This was a sign of her dedication to God and her commitment to serve Him.
- The Good Samaritan’s Fast: In Luke 10:30-37, it is mentioned that the Good Samaritan fasted before he helped the injured man. This was an act of humility and mercy.
- The Pharisee’s Fast: In Luke 18:12, it is mentioned that the Pharisee fasted twice a week. This was an act of piety and devotion.
- The Disciples’ Fast: In Acts 13:3, it is mentioned that the disciples fasted before they sent out Barnabas and Saul on their mission. This was a sign of their faith and belief in God.
- The Church’s Fast: In Acts 14:23, it is mentioned that the church fasted and prayed before they sent out Barnabas and Saul on their mission. This was a sign of their faith and belief in God.
Table on the Spiritual Benefits of Fasting
|Spiritual Discipline||Fasting can serve as a practice of self-discipline and self-control, virtues emphasized in the Bible (Galatians 5:22-23). It can help break dependencies and can clear the mind, enabling a closer focus on God.|
|Humility||Fasting can be an act of humility before God, recognizing our dependence on Him. In fasting, we acknowledge that man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord (Deuteronomy 8:3).|
|Repentance||Fasting is often associated with repentance in the Bible. It can symbolize a sincere heart response to the recognition of sin, leading to confession and change (Jonah 3:5-10).|
|Intercession||Fasting can accompany earnest prayer and intercession. In difficult times or when making major decisions, Christians may fast as part of their prayers, seeking God’s guidance and intervention (Esther 4:16).|
|Worship and Devotion||Fasting can be an act of worship and devotion to God. It can demonstrate a heart that seeks God first, prioritizing spiritual matters over physical needs (Acts 13:2).|
|Sensitivity to God’s Spirit||Fasting can heighten a believer’s spiritual sensitivity, making them more attentive to God’s spirit and prompting. It can help one discern God’s will more clearly (Acts 13:2-3).|
|Expectation of God’s Action||Fasting can foster a sense of expectancy for God to move or act in response to prayer and fasting. It can represent a deep, earnest seeking of God’s help and intervention.|
|Health and Wholeness||While primarily spiritual, the benefits of fasting can extend to physical and mental health. This can include heightened alertness, detoxification, and even healing, complementing a holistic understanding of spirituality.|
Please note that fasting should be approached with caution and wisdom. It’s not recommended for everyone, particularly those with certain health conditions. Always consult with a health professional before beginning a fast.
Bible Verses on Fasting
Biblical Disciplines for Fasting
The Bible does not provide a clear-cut instruction on how to fast, but it does provide some guidance. For example, in Matthew 6:16-18, Jesus tells us that when we fast, we should not do it in a way that will draw attention to ourselves. Additionally, Deuteronomy 14:28-29 instructs us to abstain from certain kinds of food on the Sabbath.
- Matthew 6:16-18 – Jesus teaches that fasting should be done in secret and not for show. He said, “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
- Matthew 9:14-15 – Jesus explains the importance of fasting by saying, “Then John’s disciples came and asked him, ‘How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?’ Jesus answered, ‘How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.’”
- Luke 5:33-35 – Jesus shows how fasting can be a part of one’s spiritual journey when He said, “They said to him, ‘John’s disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink.’ Jesus answered, ‘Can you make the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.’”
- Matthew 17:14-21 – Jesus explains the power of fasting and prayer to overcome spiritual obstacles when He said, “When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. ‘Lord, have mercy on my son,’ he said. ‘He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.’ ‘O unbelieving and perverse generation,’ Jesus replied, ‘how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.’ Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment. Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, ‘Why couldn’t we drive it out?’ He replied, ‘Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’ Afterward, his disciples asked him, ‘Why couldn’t we drive it out?’ He replied, ‘This kind can come out only by prayer and fasting.’”
- Mark 9:29 – Jesus explains that fasting can be a powerful tool for spiritual warfare when He said, “He replied, ‘This kind can come out only by prayer and fasting.’”
Spiritual Disciplines Implied By Scripture
- Solitude: Spending time alone with God and allowing Him to speak to our hearts. This may be done through prayer, meditation, or simply sitting in silence. (Matthew 6:6)
- Fasting: Abstaining from food or other pleasures in order to focus on God and His will for our lives. (Matthew 6:16-18)
- Service: Serving others out of a heart of love and self-sacrifice. (Matthew 25:35-36)
- Simplicity: Living a life of simplicity and minimalism. Avoiding the materialistic trap of consumerism. (Matthew 6:19-21)
- Submission: Obeying God’s commands and humbly submitting to His authority. (Matthew 7:21-23)
- Confession: Admitting our sins and asking for forgiveness. (1 John 1:9)
- Worship: Setting aside time to express our love and adoration for God. (John 4:23-24)
- Guidance: Seeking God’s guidance and wisdom in all areas of life. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
- Celebration: Taking joy in God’s goodness and blessings. (Psalm 126)
- Silence: Listening for God’s voice and stilling our hearts before Him. (Psalm 46:10)
When and How Fasting can be Sinful
- Gluttony: The Bible speaks out against gluttony, which is defined as “habitual eating and drinking to excess.” In Proverbs 23:21, it states, “For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe a man with rags.” Gluttony is often connected with fasting, as some people may take advantage of a fast to eat even more than they normally would. This is sinful and should be avoided.
- Self-righteousness: Fasting can be used as a way to draw attention to oneself and appear more spiritual than others. Fasting for the purpose of self-righteousness is a sin and is discouraged in the Bible. In Matthew 6:16-18, Jesus says, “When you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”
- Neglecting spiritual matters: When fasting, one should not neglect spiritual matters, such as prayer and Bible reading. If fasting becomes a substitute for these spiritual disciplines, then it is a sin. Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
- Fasting out of pride: Fasting out of pride can be a sign of spiritual arrogance, which is sinful. In Isaiah 58:3-4, it states, “Why have we fasted, they say, and You have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?” In this passage, God is speaking against those who fasted out of pride, and not out of a sincere desire to draw closer to Him.
- Fasting with wrong motives: If one is fasting for the wrong reasons, such as to gain favor with God or to prove something to other people, then it is a sin. In Isaiah 58:5, it says, “Is it a fast that I have chosen, a day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush, and to spread out sackcloth and ashes? Would you call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord?” God is saying that a fast should not be done for the wrong reasons.
What Does the Christian Church Teach about Fasting on the Sabbath?
Most Christian churches view fasting on the Sabbath as a way to honor the Lord and draw closer to Him. Additionally, fasting is seen as a form of repentance and self-denial. Churches also encourage people to fast in order to recognize their own need for spiritual nourishment and to focus on God’s presence in their lives.
15 Unique Bible Facts about Fasting
Jesus Christ’s View on Fasting
Jesus Christ tells us that when we fast, we should not do it in a way that would draw attention to ourselves (Matthew 6:16-18). Additionally, He encourages us to fast in order to seek the Lord’s guidance and draw closer to Him.
Fasting on the Sabbath as an Act of Prayer in the Bible
Fasting on the Sabbath is seen as a way to honor the Lord and draw closer to Him. Additionally, fasting is often used as an act of prayer and repentance. In the book of Joel, the Lord commands the Israelites to fast in order to seek repentance and forgiveness.
God’s Purpose for Fasting in the Bible
Throughout the Bible, fasting is seen as a way to draw closer to God and to seek His guidance. Additionally, fasting is a way to practice self-control and humility. Deuteronomy 8:3 tells us that fasting helps us to remember that our sustenance comes from the Lord.
- Isaiah 58:6 – “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?”
God’s purpose for fasting is to free those who are oppressed and enslaved. Fasting provides a powerful way to repent and to seek God’s help in undoing the effects of sin, injustice, and oppression.
- Matthew 6:16-18 – “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
God’s purpose for fasting is to draw the attention of God to our needs and to receive His reward. Fasting is a way to humble ourselves before God and to seek His favor in our lives.
- Psalm 69:10 – “When I weep and fast, I must endure scorn.”
God’s purpose for fasting is to show humility and to endure the scorn of others. Fasting is a way to humble ourselves before God and to demonstrate our commitment to Him.
- Joel 2:12-13 – “Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.”
God’s purpose for fasting is to demonstrate our repentance and humility before God. Fasting is a way to show God our sorrow for our sins and our longing for Him to forgive us.
- Daniel 9:3 – “So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.”
God’s purpose for fasting is to demonstrate our need for God’s mercy and grace. Fasting is a powerful way to seek God’s forgiveness and to turn from our sins.
What Does the Bible Say about Fasting for Health?
The Bible does not provide explicit instructions on fasting for health, but it does provide some guidance. In the book of Daniel, Daniel fasted for 21 days in order to seek the Lord’s guidance. Additionally, the book of Leviticus instructs us to abstain from certain kinds of food on the Sabbath.
The Spiritual Benefits of Fasting According to the Bible
The Bible tells us that fasting can bring us closer to God and help us to seek His guidance. Additionally, fasting is seen as a way to practice self-control and humility. Fasting is also used as a form of repentance and purification.
Understanding the Bible’s Teachings on Fasting
The Bible provides us with guidance on fasting in many different places. For example, in the book of Daniel, Daniel fasted for 21 days in order to seek the Lord’s guidance. Additionally, the book of Leviticus instructs us to abstain from certain kinds of food on the Sabbath.
What Times in our Lives would it be Wise to Fast
- Lent: Lent is a period of spiritual preparation for Easter that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. During this time, it is wise to fast from certain foods, such as meat, and from activities that lead to sin. This practice helps to remind us of our dependence on God and the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins.
- Ramadan: Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic lunar calendar, and it is a time when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, and it helps strengthen one’s faith, self-discipline and empathy for those who are less fortunate.
- Yom Kippur: Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the Jewish year. During this time, Jews fast from all food and drink for 25 hours and spend time in prayer and repentance. The purpose of this fast is to purify the soul and atone for sins.
- Atonement: Atonement is a time of repentance and reflection in the Christian faith. This can involve abstaining from certain foods and activities to focus on spiritual growth.
- Times of Mourning: In many cultures and religions, it is wise to fast during times of mourning. This allows us to reflect on our own mortality and draw closer to God.
- Times of Prayer: Fasting is often used as a way to focus on prayer and meditation. This can be especially beneficial when seeking guidance or seeking answers to difficult questions.
Events in our Lives Would it be Wise to Fast
- Moving: Moving to a new place can be a stressful event in our lives. Fasting can help us to stay focused and centered as we navigate the transition.
- Wedding: Preparing for a wedding can be overwhelming. Fasting can help us to remain unencumbered by stress and worry as we focus on the joy of the day.
- Starting a New Job: Starting a new job can be intimidating. Fasting can help us to focus on our goals and give us the strength to face the challenges of a new job.
- Birth of a Child: Welcoming a new baby into the world is a momentous event. Fasting can help us to stay calm and grounded during this time of joy.
- Death: Losing a loved one can be one of the most difficult events in life. Fasting can help us to find peace and acceptance during this time of grief.
- Graduation: Graduating from school can be a time of excitement and anticipation. Fasting can help us to pause and reflect on our accomplishments and plan for our future.
- Divorce: Getting divorced can be a traumatic event. Fasting can help us to stay centered and balanced as we adjust to our new life.
- Health Crisis: Experiencing a health crisis can be a frightening experience. Fasting can help us to stay focused on our health and recovery.
- Retirement: Retiring can be a time of reflection and transition. Fasting can help us to stay centered and connected to our goals as we move into this new phase of life.
- Holidays: The holidays can be a time of joy and celebration, but they can also be overwhelming and stressful. Fasting can help us stay grounded and focused on the present moment.
Final Thoughts – What Does the Bible say on fasting on the Sabbath
Fasting is an important spiritual practice that is mentioned throughout the Bible. It is seen as a way to honor the Lord and draw closer to Him. It can also be used as a form of repentance, purification, and a way to strengthen the spirit. When fasting, it is important to remember to do it in a way that will not draw attention to ourselves, and to seek the Lord’s guidance.