Here are some of the examples of fasting that are found in the Bible. This is not a comprehensive list, but I think it shows some of the times that one might choose to fast.
Paul at the time of his conversion. (Acts 9:9)
Paul was told to wait in the city for GOD to tell him what to do. During this time he “neither ate nor drank.”
The prophets and teacher at Antioch at the beginning and blessing of the ministry of Barnabas and Saul. (Acts 13: 1-4)
(ESV) Acts 13:2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
The believers in this passage were worshiping and fasting and were given special instructions by The Lord.
The Prophetess Anna, the daughter of Phanuel. (Luke 2: 37b)
The prophetess Anna was a widow and had dedicated herself to seeking GOD. The scripture said that she “did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.”
The anointing of church elders. (Acts 14:23)
(ESV) Acts 14:23 And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
Here we see that praying and fasting were used when appointing elders for service. Fasting and prayer are a great way to seek GOD’s will and guidance for our ministry. It shows that we are seeking him and helps us make our ministry GOD-centered.
Christ at the time of his temptation in the desert (Matthew 4:1-11)
As you may have read in my earlier post, this was a time of testing and a chance to prove Christ’s commitment to the Father. GOD rewarded Christ’s commitment to him and met his needs. Matthew 4:11
Christ says we will fast in the longing for his second coming (Matthew 9: 14-17)
Matthew 9:15. And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.
Fasting in the Old Testament was associated with mourning. This is not the case for Christians today. We fast in longing and hope of the glory of Jesus Christ, for his return, and for the glorification of our Lord. Fasting should be an act of joy and worship, and hope in Jesus. Jesus said that his disciples did not fast because,at the time, he was with them. He said that he would leave and then we would fast. So we see that Christ did not intend to end fasting, but recognize that we would fast in waiting for his second coming.
It seems to me that fasting is a multifaceted discipline. It is used in worship, and setting people apart for God’s work, for making decisions, and in the longing and hope of Christ. If you read the other two blogs on fasting I believe you may agree with me that asking when is the right time to fast is like asking when is it the right time to pray, just go ahead and fast if you feel like you need to fast. Fasting is not to be done as a work in and of itself, but is to be done in order to humble ourselves, to submit ourselves to God, and find joy in him.