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Fasting: Do I Wait for God to Tell Me to Fast?

We recently received this question:

Q: “When people fast, do they decide when to do it or does God tell them when to do it and for how long?”

A: Our initial response was that in Matthew 6, Jesus said, “When you fast,” which assumes that His disciples would fast at some point.  Some Christians practice a “fast day” per week when they fast one or more meals.  Some people fast for special times of seeking God.  Some churches fast together during times of intercession or renewal.

There was a follow up question:

Q: “So God doesn’t tell you when to fast?  Just that you should fast?”

A: He has the option to if He wants us to.  That’s where being led of the Spirit comes in.  But if He doesn’t say, “Fast today,” it doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t just out of normal practice of Christian disciplines.  We don’t wait for Him to say, “Read your Bible today” or “Pray today.”  We pray as a matter of discipline and communication with God.  But we should listen in case He says, “Pray for this specific person now (or today)” or “You need to read THIS passage today.”  And we should also obviously listen if He instructs us to fast a meal or a certain length of time.

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