Fasting is an important spiritual practice in Christianity and other religions. When fasting, many people like to read encouraging Bible verses to help them focus their hearts and minds. Here are some of the top Bible verses to pray and reflect on during a fast.
Benefits of Fasting Bible Verses
Fasting has many spiritual and health benefits backed up by Bible verses. Here are some verses on why fasting is good.
Fasting Draws Us Closer to God
Fasting helps us become more aware of our dependence on God and focused on our relationship with Him.
We Learn What Really Sustains Us
Fasting shows us that we can temporarily go without food and other things we enjoy. This helps us realize more deeply that God is our true sustainer. As Deuteronomy 8:3 says:
He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
We Become More Aware of God’s Presence and Power
Denying ourselves physical food makes us more spiritually attuned to feed on God’s word instead. As Jesus said in Matthew 4:4:
It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’
Fasting shows us God is with us and can sustain us even when we lack other things.
Fasting Develops Self-Control and Devotion
Fasting requires and builds godly self-discipline. As 1 Corinthians 9:27 says:
I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
By learning to go without, we train our bodies and spirits to live for and obey God more consistently.
Fasting Increases Our Willpower
Fasting develops our self-control “muscles” as we resist bodily comforts and desires. This spills over into other areas of life.
Fasting Focuses Our Hearts on God
Regular life often distracts us from closeness with God. Fasting helps us block those distractions and reconnect with God. As Jesus said in Matthew 6:21:
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
By “treasuring” God above food and activities during a fast, we draw our hearts closer to Him.
Best Bible Verses to Read When Fasting
Many Bible verses directly encourage fasting or mention its spiritual benefits. Here are some great fasting Bible verses to reflect and pray on during your fast.
Old Testament Fasting Verses
Here are some encouraging Old Testament verses about fasting:
|“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?”
|“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
|So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.
These verses remind us that fasting should change our hearts and actions, not just be an outward ritual.
Fasting Should Lead to Justice and Freedom
Isaiah links fasting with working to end oppression and meet people’s needs. By becoming less self-focused through fasting, we become more aware of others’ needs and God’s heart of compassion.
We Gain a Burden for People’s Needs
Fasting sensitizes our hearts to better discern suffering around us and hear God’s call to service.
We Take Spiritual Authority Over Injustice
Isaiah says fasting also equips us with spiritual power to take authority over the works of darkness plaguing society.
Fasting Should Produce Genuine Repentance
In Joel, God directly calls His people to return to Him with fasting, indicating true humility and contrition before Him.
Fasting Humbles and Softens Us
Fasting crucifies our fleshly pride and stubbornness so we can freely admit our sins and weaknesses to God.
Fasting Makes us Eager to Repent and Return to God
Letting go of food comforts through fasting stirs up true longing for God’s presence and joy as our sustenance.
New Testament Fasting Verses
The New Testament also encourages fasting as part of a lifestyle of devotion and anticipation of Jesus’ return:
Jesus Assumes His Followers Will Fast
In Matthew 6:16-18, Jesus gives instructions on fasting with the right heart motives instead of for outward show. This indicates Jesus expected believers to fast.
Fasting Increases Prayer Power
Mark 9 and Matthew 17 record Jesus explaining that prayer and fasting gives spiritual authority to drive out strong demonic spirits.
Fasting Focuses us on Eternity
In an eschatological context pointing to Jesus’ return, Luke 5:33-35 records Jesus asking why His followers should fast and mourn while He, the bridegroom, is still with them, implying fasting is appropriate while awaiting His coming.
Bible Chapters to Read While Fasting
Several Bible chapters have special significance for fasting. Here are some great ones to slowly read and pray through on a fast.
Isaiah 58 gives critical instructions on God’s heart and purposes for fasting. Key themes include:
Fasting Should Reflect God’s Heart for Justice
As already discussed, verse 6 shows God wants fasting to instill a deep heart of compassion and spur action against societal oppression.
Fasting Should Produce Repentance and Reconciliation
Verses 6-7 mention breaking bonds, freeing oppression, housing the homeless, and caring for those in need as part of the fasting God desires. This demonstrates true repentance from selfishness and pride.
Verse 7 shows this also produces healed relationships as we make peace with those we’ve wronged.
Fasting Brings Healing, Guidance and Provision
Verses 8-12 detail incredible blessings and spiritual breakthroughs that accompany right-hearted fasting including:
- Physical and emotional healing
- Clear spiritual guidance
- Provision of needs
- Joy and celebration
In Matthew 6, Jesus gives instructions on righteous fasting, prayer and giving. Key points include:
Fasting Should Not Be for Public Show
Jesus condemns religious hypocrisy of “disfiguring faces” to visibly demonstrate fasting. We should fast with humility, avoiding pride.
Fasting Produces Heavenly Rewards
Jesus urges us to fast to glorify our Father, promising heavenly rewards for those who fast secretly before Him.
Fasting Should Involve Focusing on God through Prayer and Scripture
Jesus contrasts earthly and heavenly treasures and says where we place our treasure, our hearts will follow. Fasting turns us from earthly to heavenly treasures through prayer and Bible study.
Nehemiah 9 records the Israelites fasting, wearing sackcloth and sitting in ashes while:
- They read Scripture for a fourth of the day
- Leaders cried out to God in deep prayer and praise
- All the people worshipped and confessed their sins before God
This shows a pattern for fasting focused on Scripture reading, praise, confession and consecration back to God.
Bible Scriptures to Read When Fasting
Beyond full chapters, many individual Bible verses inspire deeper prayer and consecration during fasting. Here are some top picks.
Scriptures to Frame Your Perspective
These verses remind you why you’re fasting and what it makes possible:
- Matthew 6:33 – Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness
- John 15:5 – Apart from me you can do nothing
- Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength
These prepare you to experience God’s power through dependence on Him.
Scriptures for When Fasting is Difficult
When struggling, pray these truths to be encouraged and refocused:
- 2 Corinthians 12:9 – God’s grace is sufficient, His power perfected in weakness
- Psalm 73:25-26 – God is the strength of your heart and portion forever
- Isaiah 40:31 – Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength
Scriptures to Inspire Thanks and Praise
Use these verses to praise God for His goodness, love, and sustaining power:
- Ephesians 5:20 – Give thanks always for all things to God
- Psalm 103 – Bless and praise the Lord’s holy name and benefits
- Revelation 4:11 – Worthy is the Lord God Almighty to receive glory and honor and power!
Scriptures to Encourage Deeper Prayer
These inspire passionate, effectual prayer during extended times with God:
- Jeremiah 29:13 – You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart
- James 5:16 – The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results
- Mark 11:24 – Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe you have received it and it will be yours
Bible Scriptures to Read While Fasting for Repentance
If fasting for repentance from specific sins, read these passages to inspire confession, cleansing and restoration:
Psalm 51 is King David’s raw prayer of repentance after his sin with Bathsheba. Verses to specifically pray while fasting include:
Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. (v. 2) Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (v 11)
Isaiah gives a call to repentance perfect for times of fasting:
Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. (vv. 6-7)
Joel links fasting to repentance by saying:
Even now, return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.
1 John 1:5-10
1 John 1 reminds even Christians must continually confess sin but that God faithfully forgives those who do:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (v. 9)
Whether fasting for spiritual breakthroughs, health benefits, repentance from sin, or deeper prayer, fasting becomes even more meaningful when combined with Bible reading and prayer. The verses and passages above give critical guidance and inspiration to unlock the full power of fasting. We deprive ourselves of food for a time so we can feast on God’s Word instead. This fills our spirits in a way earthly bread never could. God bless you richly in your next fast as you fill your heart and mouth with the bread of life!
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