Abstention from food. In the OT there are two kinds of fasting, public and private. Public fasts were periodically proclaimed (2Chr 20:3; Ezra 8:21-23; Neh 1:4-11; Jer 36:9). The fasts were always accompanied by prayer and supplication and frequently by wearing sackcloth as a sign of penance and mourning (Neh 9:1; Dan 9:3; 1Macc 3:47). In the tragic days surrounding the fall of Jerusalem, four fast days were proclaimed (Zech 7:5; Zech 8:19). “Denying oneself,” synonymous with “fasting,” is required on the Day of Atonement (Lev 16:31-34). Public fasts ordinarily lasted a day, and offerings of various sorts were made (Lev 16:1-5; Judg 20:26; Jer 14:11-12). The prophetic writings contain strong warnings against abusing the fasting rituals (Isa 58:1-9; Jer 14:11-12; Zech 7:3-5; Zech 8:18-19). Private fasts were observed as acts of penance (2Sam 12:15-23; 1Kgs 21:27; Ps 69:1-15), when others became sick (Ps 35:13-14), and when one was accused and scorned (Ps 109:4-21). In the NT Jesus stresses that fasting be sincere and not merely for show (Matt 6:16-18), and he fasted at the outset of his ministry (Matt 4:2). He does not, however, enjoin his disciples to fast as did John the Baptist (Mark 2:18-20). In the early church fasting accompanied prayer prior to the consecration of teachers and elders (Acts 13:2-3; Acts 14:23) and during times of severe trial (Acts 27:1-38).

2Chr 20:3

3Jehoshaphat was afraid; he set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.

Ezra 8:21-23

Fasting and Prayer for Protection
21Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might deny ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe jou ... View more

Neh 1:4-11

4When I heard these words I sat down and wept, and mourned for days, fasting and praying before the God of heaven.5I said, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and ... View more

Jer 36:9

9In the fifth year of King Jehoiakim son of Josiah of Judah, in the ninth month, all the people in Jerusalem and all the people who came from the towns of Judah ... View more

Neh 9:1

National Confession
1Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the people of Israel were assembled with fasting and in sackcloth, and with earth on their heads ... View more

Dan 9:3

3Then I turned to the Lord God, to seek an answer by prayer and supplication with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.

1Macc 3:47

47They fasted that day, put on sackcloth and sprinkled ashes on their heads, and tore their clothes.

Zech 7:5

5Say to all the people of the land and the priests: When you fasted and lamented in the fifth month and in the seventh, for these seventy years, was it for me t ... View more

Zech 8:19

19Thus says the Lord of hosts: The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be seasons ... View more

Lev 16:31-34

31It is a sabbath of complete rest to you, and you shall deny yourselves; it is a statute forever.32The priest who is anointed and consecrated as priest in his ... View more

Lev 16:1-5

The Day of Atonement
1The Lord spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they drew near before the Lord and died.2The Lord said to Moses:
Te ... View more

Judg 20:26

26Then all the Israelites, the whole army, went back to Bethel and wept, sitting there before the Lord; they fasted that day until evening. Then they offered bu ... View more

Jer 14:11-12

11The Lord said to me: Do not pray for the welfare of this people.12Although they fast, I do not hear their cry, and although they offer burnt offering and grai ... View more

Isa 58:1-9

False and True Worship
1Shout out, do not hold back!
Lift up your voice like a trumpet!
Announce to my people their rebellion,
to the house of Jacob their sins. ... View more

Jer 14:11-12

11The Lord said to me: Do not pray for the welfare of this people.12Although they fast, I do not hear their cry, and although they offer burnt offering and grai ... View more

Zech 7:3-5

3and to ask the priests of the house of the Lord of hosts and the prophets, “Should I mourn and practice abstinence in the fifth month, as I have done for so ma ... View more

Zech 8:18-19

Joyful Fasting
18The word of the Lord of hosts came to me, saying:19Thus says the Lord of hosts: The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and th ... View more

2Sam 12:15-23

15Then Nathan went to his house.
Bathsheba's Child Dies
The Lord struck the child that Uriah's wife bore to David, and it became very ill.16David therefore plea ... View more

1Kgs 21:27

27When Ahab heard those words, he tore his clothes and put sackcloth over his bare flesh; he fasted, lay in the sackcloth, and went about dejectedly.

Ps 69:1-15

Prayer for Deliverance from Persecution
To the leader: according to Lilies. Of David.
1Save me, O God,
for the waters have come up to my neck.2I sink in deep mi ... View more

Ps 35:13-14

13But as for me, when they were sick,
I wore sackcloth;
I afflicted myself with fasting.
I prayed with head bowed on my bosom,14as though I grieved for a friend ... View more

Ps 109:4-21

4In return for my love they accuse me,
even while I make prayer for them.5So they reward me evil for good,
and hatred for my love.
6They say, “Appoint a wicked ... View more

Matt 6:16-18

Concerning Fasting
16“And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. ... View more

Matt 4:2

2He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished.

Mark 2:18-20

The Question about Fasting
18Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, “Why do John's disciples and the disciples of ... View more

Acts 13:2-3

2While 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.”3Then afte ... View more

Acts 14:23

23And after they had appointed elders for them in each church, with prayer and fasting they entrusted them to the Lord in whom they had come to believe.

Acts 27:1-38

Paul Sails for Rome
1When it was decided that we were to sail for Italy, they transferred Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan Cohort, n ... View more

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