Fasting Guidelines

A Simple Guide to Fasting

A normal fast - abstaining from all food, but not from water.  To abstain from food but to drink water or fruit juices is the most common kind of Christian fast. (Matthew 4:2)

A partial fast (sometimes called a "Daniel" fast) - a limitation of the diet but not from all food.  (Daniel 1:12)

An absolute fast - the avoidance of all food and water.  (Esther 4:16)

A supernatural fast - cases involving Moses (Deuteronomy 9:9) and Elijah (I Kings 19:8).  These required God’s intervention and are not repeatable apart from miraculous provision.

A private fast - referred to by Jesus (Mt. 6:16-18)

Congregational fasts - (Joel 2:15-16, Acts 13:2)

National fasts - (II Chronicles 20:3, Nehemiah 9:1, and Esther 4:16)

Regular fasts - Every Jew was to fast on the day of Atonement (Lev.16:29-31)

Occasional fasts - implied by Jesus in Matthew 9:15


From “Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life,” Donald S. Whitney, Navpress, 1991, pp. 153-154.