Learning Resource Center – Types of Fasting
The fasts suggested in this guide are not for everyone. If you are an expectant mother, diabetic and/or have a history of medical problems, please consult your physician before beginning any type of fast and if you are taking any medications.
It is encouraged to combine prayer and fasting. In Isaiah 58 the bible speaks of God’s chosen fast. Your fast may be an abstinence from food or it may be an abstinence from something optional that consumes your time. By fasting or abstaining from that activity, you will have more time to devote to prayer. In Isaiah 58 there are essentially nine reasons to fast. In addition there are also nine biblical characters whose lives personified the literal or figurative theme of each of the nine aspects highlighted in the scripture.
Disciple’s Fast – Fasting from freedom of addiction. (Matthew 17:20-21)
Ezra Fast – Fasting to solve problems. (Ezra 8:21-23)
Samuel Fast – Fasting to win people to God. (I Samuel 7:1-8)
Elijah Fast – Fasting to break crippling fears and other mental problems. (I Kings 19:2-18)
Widow’s Fast – Fasting to provide for the needy. (I Kings 17:12)
Saint Paul Fast – Fasting for insight and decision making. (Acts 9:9-19)
Daniel Fast – Fasting for health and physical healing. (Daniel 1:12-20)
John the Baptist Fast – Fasting for an influential testimony. (Matthew 3:4, Luke 1:15)
Ester Fast – Fasting for protection from the evil one. (Ester 4:16)
The nine fasts described in this guide are merely suggestive of a variety of ways to practice the discipline of fasting. There are probably as many ways to fast as there are ways to pray. The following are four kinds of fasts that can be followed when fasting.
Normal Fast – going without food for a definite period during which you ingest only liquids (water and/or juice). Extreme care should be taken with longer fasts, which should only be attempted after medical advice from your physician. The duration can vary from 1 to 40 days.
Absolute Fast – allows no food or water at all and the duration is very short.
Partial Fast – omits certain foods or is on a schedule that includes limited eating. It may consist of omitting one meal a day. Eating only fresh vegetables for several days is also a good partial fast.
Rotational Fast – consists of eating or omitting certain families of foods for designated periods. For example, grains may be eaten only every fourth day. The various food families are rotated so that some food is available each day.