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Fasting? (When You Fast – Part 1)

But you, when you fast, (Matthew 6:17)

I hear all sorts of opinions about fasting.

Many folks feel like it is an Old Testament practice. We are free, and all these religious activities are not for the Church.

Others take a legalistic approach to it, making it a requirement for true spirituality.

Both of these views are harmful; the former robs us of a wonderful asset. The later, the legalistic approach will bring you down in either of two ways – possibly both.

The first danger with a legalistic approach to anything in the faith is a sense of superiority, as though it is a badge to be worn. The other is a sense of failure; as though I can never measure up to what Christ is calling me to.

Today I simply want to make a couple brief observations, and in the upcoming days we will dig into the how and why behind this wonderful discipline.

My big point today is that Jesus (Mister Red Letter Himself) said when not if you fast.

[Ok – I will come clean here. I am not a Greek scholar but when I look at my reference tools (my favorite is, but I have lots of books too) I find that this word is actually combined into one word with the word fast. Young’s Literal Translation actually has it “But thou, fasting…” So the when is understood, but it is understood by virtually every English translator as a when not if connection.]

This, in part, is probably because the Jewish life included and required both feasts and fasts throughout the year. That alone tells me that fasting is probably a good idea. God built all sorts of great traditions into the lives of the Jews that we could benefit from.

If you need more convincing than that, you find fasting twice in the book of Acts. In Acts 13:1-3 and again in Acts 14:23.

Over the next several days I am going to put on my teachers hat and walk through 7 reasons to fast and 7 ways to fast.

Thanks for stopping in today.


0 thoughts on “Fasting? (When You Fast – Part 1)

  1. G

    Hmmmmmm, the theme of fasting keeps coming up, particularly in the last week or so. Is God trying to tell me something? Prob a great thing to do as I prepare to plant a new church. Thx ben. Looking forward to the next few posts

    1. Ben Nelson

      Wow - a new church plant - that is exciting. A friend of mine helps to equip church planters and other leadership. You might want to check him out.

      His main blog is, but you can also find him at and

      You may gleed some great stuff in his bogs.

      Thanks fro stopping by.

  2. betty

    I look forward to reading what you share about fasting. I've only fasted twice in my walk with the Lord; once was before the last election and then another time just recently while a dear friend had major cancer surgery. I am particularly looking forward to your thoughts about 7 ways to fast.


    1. Ben Nelson

      That's good Betty. Our major need is surely a great incentive to fast. One of the ways the Lord uses what satan means for evil to do us good.
      thanks for your encouraging words Betty,

  3. Caddo Veil

    Well, you know I'll be here, trying to keep an open heart. You once said I always "come hungry"--I'd guess that's gonna be more truth than poetry, eh? God bless you, Bubba--how's the storm situation? I've been doing my "multi-tasking": fretting and praying (I know it's not scriptural, but it's how I roll until Jesus heals me of "fretting"). Love to you and the fam--your old sis Caddo

    1. Ben Nelson

      Don't quit before the end of this little series. There are ways for people who really struggle with giving up food for extended periods to benefit from this discipline, but you have to stick with me to get to that.

      Thanks for the prayer (and for caring enough to fret)
      love you


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