Always keep in mind that true fasting is meant “to purify the motives and reform the life.”

An Outward Expression of Inner Commitment

By Lyndelle Brower Chiomenti

God is constantly calling His people to revival and reformation. The objectives of this call—drawing closer to the Savior and being transformed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit—are met through certain activities such as Bible study, prayer, and worship. This month’s Synapse will examine fasting as a means of revival and reformation.

Generally, fasting is “an outward expression of the person’s inner total commitment and reliance on God’s preserving and rescuing power.”1 The examples of fasting in the Bible teach us that it is “a proper expression of devotion and commitment to God. . . . In fasting, we place our lives exclusively into the merciful care of God. It expresses a total and absolute commitment, a loving and trusting surrender of our lives to God as the only one who can rescue us from the oppression of sin.”2

Examples of fasting in the Bible are many and varied. After the men of Jabesh-gilead buried Saul and his sons, they fasted, most likely as an act of sorrow 3 (1 Sam. 31:13). David fasted as he interceded with God for the life of the son he fathered with Bathsheba (2 Sam. 12:21‒23). Esther urged the Jews in Susa to fast for her in preparation for her visit with the king. She and her maids also fasted (Esther 4:15, 16). Daniel fasted as he interceded with God regarding the close of the Captivity (Dan. 9:3). Anna, the widowed prophetess who lived long enough to see Mary and Joseph bring Jesus to the Temple, spent her days fasting and praying (Luke 2:36‒38). Church leaders in Antioch fasted before ordaining Paul (Acts 13:2, 3), and Paul fasted before ordaining elders in churches he had helped to establish (Acts 14:23). Jesus Himself fasted in the wilderness (Matt. 4:2).

Principles of fasting include the following:

  • Check with your doctor to be sure you are healthy enough to fast.
  • Decide how long you will fast. In the Bible, people generally fasted for one day. If you have not fasted before, don’t plan a lengthy fast.
  • Decide what type of fast you will engage in: water only, no food; abstaining from certain foods; fruit and vegetable juices only.
  • Have faith that God rewards those who fast with right motives.
  • Remember that fasting is meant to bring you closer to God so that you might know His will.4
  • Always keep in mind that true fasting is meant “to purify the motives and reform the life.”5  Read Isaiah 58:6‒11.

1. Ángel Manuel Rodriguez, “Go Fast,” (accessed July 26, 2011).
2. Ibid.
3. The SDA Bible Dictionary, sec. ed., p. 362.
4. John Witcombe, “Biblical Principles of Fasting,” July 26, 2011).
5. The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 4, sec. ed., p. 306.