THE IMPORTANCE OF FASTING
The importance of fasting is seen in the number of positive references in the Old and New Testaments.
There are over 30 positive examples, commands, and instructions in Scripture about fasting.
Judges 20:26--Israel fasted for victory in war. 1 Sam. 1:6-7--Hannah fasted for a son 1 Sam. 7:6--Israel fasted in repentance 1 Sam. 31:13--Men of Jabeshgilead fasted in mourning for Saul 2 Sam. 1:12--David and his men fasted in mourning for Saul, Jonathan, and the fallen of Israel 2 Sam. 12--David fasted for mercy upon his child 1 Kings 21:27--Ahab fasted for mercy 2 Chron. 20:3--Jehoshaphat and Israel fasted for help and protection Ezra 8:21-23--Ezra and the people fasted for help and protection Nehemiah 1:4--Nehemiah fasted in mourning and for help upon Jerusalem
Nehemiah 9:1,2--Israel fasting in mourning and repentance Esther 4:16--Esther and friends fasted for victory Esther 9:3--Fasting is mentioned as having had a role in the victory Psalm 35:13,14--Fasting in prayer and mourning Psalm 69: 10,11--Fasting in prayer and mourning Isaiah 58:6-8--The fast which pleases God Jeremiah 36:9--Israel fasted for mercy Joel 1:14; 2:12,15--God commanded fasting and repentance Jonah 3:5--The Ninevites fasted in repentance for mercy Daniel 9:3--Daniel fasted for wisdom Matthew 4:2--Jesus fasted when tempted in the wilderness Matthew 6:17-18--Jesus promised that the Father would bless fasting Matthew 9:14-15--Jesus said his disciples would fast
Matthew 17:21--Fasting is necessary for overcoming some demonic strongholds Mark 9:29--Fasting is necessary for overcoming some demonic powers Luke 2:37--Fasting was part of Anna's service to God Acts 13:2--Fasting was part of the ministry of the workers at Antioch Acts 13:3--Ordination was accompanied by fasting Acts 14:23--Ordination was accompanied by fasting 1 Cor. 7:5--Fasting and prayer is the only proper reason for abstinence from the marital relationship 2 Cor. 6:5--Fasting was one way Paul approved himself as a minister of Jesus Christ 2 Cor. 11:27--Paul fasted often
These examples and instructions regarding fasting cannot be taken lightly. We are told that the examples of Scripture are as important and binding as are its direct commands--1 Cor. 10:11; Rom. 15:4--and these verses speak specifically of the Old Testament examples. It should go without saying that the Lord Jesus Christ is our Pattern (1 Pet. 1:21). Christ's fasting during His temptation in the wilderness is our example, just as His prayers during the temptations in the garden are our examples. Also we are told that the Apostle Paul is to be imitated--Phil. 3:17; 4:9. Paul put before us the example of frequent fasting (2 Cor. 11:27).