THOMAS: There are occasions when you have big, life-changing decisions to make where it is reasonable to go without a meal or two so that you can devote yourself to prayer and meditation. Whether fasting is a mandated spiritual activity for every Christian in the New Testament is up for debate. However, all of us have major decisions to make in life, and those should be made prayerfully, carefully, and with a great deal of thought. Fasting enables you to do that.
In my own life, I have not practiced regular fasting. We could debate as to how long one should fast. I know of an elder who once went without food for twenty-nine days and ended up in the ER. He was at death’s door. I don’t recommend that.
I suspect that when Jesus fasted forty days and forty nights, He didn’t fast from liquid. I am pretty sure that in His physical body, He would not have been able to survive forty days and forty nights without water. If you’ve never fasted before, you should seek out the advice of an older Christian before doing something bizarre.
GORDON: I would just add that if you’re going to fast, nobody should know about it. Jesus constantly condemned the showy religion of the Pharisees, who prayed pompously and made their fasting known. That might check this whole discussion if we keep our fasting to ourselves.
This is a transcript of Derek Thomas' and Christopher Gordon's answers given during our If the Foundations Are Destroyed: Escondido 2022 Conference and has been lightly edited for readability. To ask Ligonier a biblical or theological question, email firstname.lastname@example.org or message us on Facebook or Twitter.