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 Basics of Fasting

“Blow the trumpet in Zion, consecrate a fast, call a sacred assembly”  –Joel 2:15

As we enter into our 21 days of corporate prayer and fasting, we realize not every person is familiar with this Biblical concept.  Therefore, we felt like it was important to provide a basic understanding of fasting so that each participant could be equipped with the necessary tools to be successful as they fast.

In this article the following questions will be answered:

What is fasting?
What types of fast are there?
How long does a fast last?
What is the purpose of fasting?
What does fasting accomplish?
What is a Daniel Fast?

Let’s get started…

What is fasting?

In the original language fasting simply means, “to cover one’s mouth.”   In a broader sense fasting at its core is essentially ”voluntarily abstaining from food for the purpose of dedicated and concentrated prayer.” 

In plain English, rather than eating, one chooses to spend the allotted time focused on their relationship with God by praying, reading the Bible and worshiping Him.   When doing this the participant has the opportunity to experience first hand the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

What types of fasts are there?

Throughout the Bible there are three different kinds…

Traditional Fast:  In this fast the individual does not eat any food and only drink liquids.

Partial Fast:  In this fast the individual only eats fruits and vegetables [no meat, sweets or bread].  This is more commonly known as the “Daniel Fast.”

Absolute Fast:  In this fast the individual does not eat food or drink liquids.

Along with these three options many people also choose to fast or abstain from things such as social media, TV, the computer, or anything else they may view as a potential distraction between them and God.  It is also common for people to do a combination of these options.

How long does a fast last?

A fast can last anywhere from a single meal to 40 days.  The duration of a fast is really up to the individual who is making the decision to do so.  We encourage each participant to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance, and to be aware of any health limitations they may have.

What is the purpose of fasting?

There are definitely right and wrong motives when it comes to fasting, therefore it is important to make sure fasting is done for the right reasons.  Jesus reassured us in Matthew 6:17-18 that God always rewards individuals when they fast with right motives from a right heart.

Wrong Motives:

  • to lose weight

  • to prove how spiritual one is

  • to manipulate God into moving on one’s behalf

Right Motives

  • to draw closer to God

  • to humble oneself before God

  • when facing difficult circumstances

  • for repentance

  • to seek the mind of God

  • to prepare for ministry

Fasting is an act of humility because it takes one’s eyes off of their wisdom and abilities and puts their dependance and trust in God.

What does fasting accomplish?

Ultimately fasting purifies an individuals heart and mind so they can be positioned to receive from God’s wisdom, knowledge, strength and loving nature.  This positioning not only produces a greater level of intimacy, but it also brings about a greater measure of clarity concerning God’s will and desire in their circumstance.  When the individual follows God’s leading [come into agreement with Him] it releases God’s anointing, power and favor into the situation.  This is why the individual can be confident when they fast God will move on their behalf. 

What is a Daniel Fast?

As previously stated the “Daniel Fast” is when an individual chooses to eat only fruits and vegetables for 21 days.  This type of fast is based off of two verses in the book of Daniel.

Daniel 1:12, “Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink.”

Daniel 10:3, “I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.”

The following list of acceptable and non-acceptable food comes from an excerpt on Susan Gregory’s website:  We would like to offer one cautionary thought to those individuals who choose to participate in a “Daniel Fast,” and that is to maintain one’s primary focus on drawing closer to God instead of the food.  The list of acceptable foods and non-acceptable foods along with the available recipes can become a distraction and overshadow the main purpose of the fast itself.

All Fruits:

These can be fresh, frozen, dried, juiced or canned.  Fruits include but are not limited to apples, apricots, bananas, blackberries, blueberries, boysenberries, cantaloupe, cherries, cranberries, figs, grapefruit, grapes, guava, honeydew melon, kiwi, lemons, limes, mangoes, nectarines, oranges, papayas, peaches, pears, pineapples, plums, prunes, raisins, raspberries, strawberries, tangelos, tangerines, watermelon.

All Vegetables:

These can be fresh, frozen, dried, juiced or canned. Vegetables include but are not limited to artichokes, asparagus, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chili peppers, collard greens, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, ginger root, kale, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, mustard greens, okra, onions, parsley, potatoes, radishes, rutabagas, scallions, spinach, sprouts, squashes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, turnips, watercress, yams, zucchini, veggie burgers are an option if you are not allergic to soy.

All Whole Grains:

Including but not limited to whole wheat, brown rice, millet, quinoa, oats, barley, grits, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat tortillas, rice cakes and popcorn.

All Nuts and Seeds:

Including but not limited to sunflower seeds, cashews, peanuts, sesame. Also nut butters including peanut butter.

All Legumes:

These can be canned or dried. Legumes include but are not limited to dried beans, pinto beans, split peas, lentils, black eyed peas, kidney beans, black beans, cannellini beans, white beans.

All Quality Oils:

Including but not limited to olive, canola, grape seed, peanut, and sesame.


Spring water, distilled water or other pure waters.


Tofu, soy products, vinegar, seasonings, salt, herbs and spices.

Foods To Avoid On The Daniel Fast:

All meat and animal products including but not limited to beef, lamb, pork, poultry, and fish.

All dairy products including but not limited to milk, cheese, cream, butter, and eggs.

All sweeteners including but not limited to sugar, raw sugar, honey, syrups, molasses, and cane juice.

All leavened bread including Ezekiel Bread (it contains yeast and honey) and baked goods.

All refined and processed food products including but not limited to artificial flavorings, food additives, chemicals, white rice, white flour, and foods that contain artificial preservatives.

All deep fried foods including but not limited to potato chips, French fries, corn chips.

All solid fats including shortening, margarine, lard and foods high in fat.

Beverages including but not limited to coffee, tea, herbal teas, carbonated beverages, energy drinks, and alcohol.

Please make sure to READ THE LABEL when purchasing packaged, canned or bottled foods. They should be sugar-free and chemical-free. Keep this in mind as you review this list of acceptable foods.