Types of Fasts
When most people think of fasting, the first image that usually comes to mind is of a person going without food for several days and drinking only water, broth, and juice. Although fasting comes in a variety of forms, there are basically three types: Absolute, Liquid and Partial.
An absolute fast is a fast from all food and liquids for a few days, which is what the Apostle Paul experienced after the Lord appeared to him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:9). Another example is when Queen Esther sent a message through Mordecai, asking the Jews to fast with her before she went to see the king. She said, “Do not eat or drink for three days” (Esther 4:16).
A liquid fast involves eliminating food for a period of time and consuming only water, fruit juices, and vegetable juices. The Bible does not mention a liquid fast specifically, but it’s an option that many people choose, especially when fasting for more than two or three days. This type of fast is not quite as taxing on the body as an absolute fast, and there is typically no danger of dehydration if adequate liquid is consumed.
On a partial fast, certain foods are removed from the diet for a specific length of time. The prophet Daniel chose to undergo a partial fast when he sought the Lord.
Fasting is the example set by Jesus
First and foremost, we should fast because Jesus fasted. Before Jesus healed the ten lepers, before he raised Lazarus from the dead, and before he went to the cross, Jesus spent forty days and nights in the wilderness fasting and praying (Matthew 4:1-11). He didn’t even begin his public ministry until he had spent that time along with the Father in preparation for what God had called him to do. If Jesus, the Son of God, recognized the importance of fasting in his life, shouldn’t we as well?
Fasting is an intense battle
In Daniel 10, we get a glimpse of what occurs in the spiritual realm when we fast and pray. The Bible says that twenty-four days after he started his fast, Daniel was visited by a heavenly messenger, which most Bible scholars believe was the angel Gabriel. The angel said, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set you mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days” (versus 12-13). Daniel’s prayers were heard immediately, but the answers didn’t come right away. There was a fierce battle in the heavenlies as Daniel prayed and fasted, and God’s messenger was detained on the way by the opposition of the powers of darkness.
The battle is both physical and spiritual when you fast. First, you are at war with your own flesh – your body and its passions – because your flesh wants no part of it. Also, you’re fighting against the enemy of your soul, whose ultimate goal is to defeat you. But you don’t need to be paralyzed by fear. The all-powerful, all-knowing, almighty God is on your side. He fights for you and will give you victory as you trust in him. Remember, you are more than a conqueror in Christ (Romans 8:37). The battle has already been won!
During the Fast – Spiritual Preparation
During the Fast – Physical Preparation during a liquid or partial fast
Feola, K. (2010). The Ultimate Guide To the Daniel Fast. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.