Biblical Fasting – It’s Not About Physical Food


Whenever we hear the word “fasting,” we think of abstinence from physical food.  Biblically speaking, when we hear about Jesus fasting for 40 days and 40 nights, we equate that with his going 40 days and nights without having anything to physically eat.  This is not at all what the scriptures mean by fasting.

Let’s take a look at Matthew 9:14, and see one of the premier passages in the Bible as it relates to fasting.  Fasting is actually defined in this verse:

“Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?  And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast” (Matt. 9:14-15) (Emphasis mine).

People Fasting (Mourning)

Think about Jesus’ question here.  Why wouldn’t the disciples be able to turn down a plate of food while Jesus was with them?  Doesn’t make much sense, does it?

No, the meaning of fasting, as defined in this verse, is mourning, or crying out.  Now let’s look at this concept a little more closely and see if we can understand what the scriptures are really saying here.

In the Beatitudes, Christ makes the statement “blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matt. 5:4).  And why do we mourn?  We mourn because Christ leaves the temple (Matt. 24:3).  Remember that YOU are the temple of God.  Matthew 24 gives a whole discourse on what happens when Jesus leaves the temple.  Incredibly, it is this discourse that describes the “gospel of the Kingdom of God” (Matt. 24:14), contrary to the popular religious teachings that refer to the gospel as a feel-good story.  It is through much tribulation that you will enter into the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22).  When Christ leaves the temple, the whole building (YOU are that building) comes crashing down, and you begin to experience what the scriptures describe as the four deadly plagues (wars, famine, pestilence, wild beasts).  All of this is spiritual and has great meaning.

You are the temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in you (1 Cor. 3:16).  Christ comes in your flesh (1 John 4:2-4; Col. 1:27; Gal. 4:19).  Because we kill the inner Christ on our crosses, rather than bring him TO our crosses, the death of Christ in us (the day when “the bridegroom is taken away”) precipitates massive suffering and anguish.

Rather than seek comfort from others during our period of suffering, we are counseled to mourn.

Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness (Jas. 4:9).

This mourning is called “fasting.”  The slaying of the Christ within you through unbelief in his incredible power results in your desolation (lack of power, or lack of Christ – you are waste, barren, empty).  This is actually an important stage in your spiritual development because it is in weakness that you are made strong.  It is in mourning that you are comforted.  There is incredible power in your tears, when you direct them toward the Christ in you.

And this is what it means when Jesus says that the children of the bridegroom cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them.

Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you (John 16:7).

What Does Not Eating or Drinking Mean

One of the major reasons we equate fasting with food is the reference to “not eating or drinking anything” while fasting.  In the scriptures, eating and drinking are not references to the imbibing of physical food, but to the taking in of spiritual food.

Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.  Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day (John 6:53-54).

In your mourning (fasting), when things get really tough for you, eat and drink only of the Christ, the power and wisdom of God within you (1 Cor. 1:24).  Don’t eat and drink anything else.

For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.  He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him (John 6:55-56).

Of course this is spiritual, not literal (John 6:63).  The power of God is within you, NOT outside of you.

This is contrary to what our religious culture teaches us, but it is, in fact, what the Bible and all of the scriptures of the world teach.

People will tell you that you have to do thus and so, and every person’s thus-and-so differs, depending on who you talk to.  If any man has the truth, how would you know who that is?  What method of discernment would you use?  Are Christians correct?  Muslims?  Jews?  Hindus?  How would you know?

There are literally thousands (perhaps millions) of religions on planet earth today, all believing their own watch to be correct.  Seemingly everyone “knows” that they are right and everyone else is wrong.  Christians condemn Muslims.  Jews condemn Christians, Muslims condemn Jews, ad nauseum.  It is common to condemn those that don’t believe like we do.

Could ALL of us be wrong?

Thus saith the LORD; Cursed [be] the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD (Jer. 17:5).

Trusting in human beings results in spiritual death.  The scriptures tell us that straight is the gate, and narrow is the way that leads to life, and only a few find it (Matt. 7:14).  Yet it is the many that claim to know and teach the way to salvation.  “For many will come in my name, claiming ‘I am Christ’ (or ‘I am your Messiah’ – John 1:41), and shall deceive many.”

One cannot teach what one does not know.

Therefore, seeking others to teach you about life results in spiritual death.  This is the Biblical definition of adultery, and is what the scripture means by “the abomination that causes desolation.”

man fasting (mourning)

The Importance of Fasting

This is why fasting is so important, and why understanding just what it means can mean the difference between life and death, spiritually speaking.

When you fast (mourn), eat and drink nothing.  You are going within and “praying toward this place” (the temple, which is YOU) (2 Chr. 6:26).  But when you fast, don’t do it to be seen by others.  This is what the Bible means by “lust.”  You are merely trying to impress man with what you are doing.  This is false mourning, and the reward for such is the attention of others – you have received your reward.  No, when you fast, don’t go around with a long face trying to show everyone you are fasting.  You don’t want to make a show of it.  Just pray within yourself, and you will be rewarded.  It won’t happen immediately, as faith is always tested.  You must prove yourself faithful by staying with it until you receive an answer.  No one knows the day or the hour when your prayers will be answered.

Here’s where you can understand the patience of Job (Jas. 5:11).  In your patience you possess your soul (Luke 21:19).

This is where the concept of “waiting on the Lord” comes in.  No matter how difficult your fiery trial, fasting and “waiting on the Lord” are the great keys to deliverance.

No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame … (Ps. 25:3 NIV).

Don’t worry about what anyone thinks about your faith.  When you are suffering, pray.  Fast (mourn) and don’t eat or drink anything while fasting.  It will feel strange, but the power of the Christ within you will guide and direct you.  You will often feel alone and powerless.

Just be patient.  You will be led from within.

You will receive answers.  Even if it feels like it will never happen, wait for it.  Be patient.  Remember the story of Job.  Job knew that he was being tested, which is why he could say “[b]ut he knoweth the way that I take: [when] he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10).

Fast and pray.  There is great power in fasting and praying.


  1. Why I agree to a certain extent as to what fasting may entail, there is a common scripture that says otherwise.
    Matthew 4:2, talking about Jesus says, when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward hungry.
    I conclude first of all that it had to be physical food because even if Jesus mourned to the extent of concentrating solely on the Father, if this was to fill him with “more of God” why would he then be hungry?
    Secondly, the Greek word fasted here means “to abstain from food. “
    Finally, the same word may have different meanings as far as biblical language translation goes.

  2. Hello Paul, I hope all is well with you. I don’t know how I got to your website, but I am so blessed.
    I am writing a project in Uni and my focus is on Genesis 1-3. I don’t believe most if not all the things I read in texts. I started researching for truth about allegorical interpretation of scripture. I don’t know if you can help, I want to interpret Genesis 1-3 allegorically.

  3. Tank you for your work. They are not explicit enough though, explained broadly and simple to understand. Still find it difficult understanding

  4. Thank you for your deep insights,

    I find it sad that we will disagree to the point of almost calling someone a liar…….(not outright, but the result has the same outcome).

    Truly I say, if you are in doubt, then we should be going deep within to meditate/pray and find out for yourself if anything,(we always are quick to point out what we don’t believe). We are taught to seek the kingdom from within, yet we still have the need to have another person give us the OK or pat on the back, “did i do ok? did I do it right? is this the correct way to….”, that is simply your ego and the way the church wants you to be. What I’m finding is that people will take the scriptures literally, even though it plainly states that it is a spiritual guide…not a history lesson, not famous people place or things. All that is written is meant for your spiritual growth. Not your physical growth. Once you can wrap your head around that idea, you will start to experience the truth for what it is…the truth. I can not tell you what is right and what is wrong, for this is all perspective, and nothing else,(I believe that there is no right or wrong only learning or continuing to go through the same issue over and over again). I can not tell you anything beyond that which you already know. So why do we continuously ask others for guidance? I have for many years tried to wrestle with what I disagreed with and what was true…..only to come back to the same conclusion, why seek the answers to ourselves from others? Are they in my head, do they see what I see? Can they feel what I feel. No they can’t possibly. So all I can do is try to understand others, realize that when I have a deep question, to not go without to seek it, but to go within and find the answer.

    As for why these pages and others like them are here? One only needs to look at the church, see what it has accomplished……’ll note the person writing these works is only stating what they believe to be true, no judgment, not shaming, etc, etc,

    I struggle daily with this, as I do not wish to be taught by man alone. I like that there is places where we can read and decide for ourselves what we see as being the truth. I will always wait on God to show me, it’s all I can do, and sometimes I don’t listen…other times I do. That is life and I love it

    May peace and love find you always

    • Hello Robert
      Not sure if you’ll ever see this but didn’t Jesus himself pray to the Father that we would be one? We can’t really be one if we are all individually seeking our own individual truths. Didn’t the apostle Paul teach that Apostles Pastors and teacher and evangelists have been given as gifts to the church? (Ephesians 5) This must mean we can teach each other and help reveal the truth of God’s Word.

  5. I didn’t take the time to read all the comments, so I may say something redundant.

    Sadly, there is a an element of truth in every deception. That’s what makes something deceptive.

    When we complicate something that is simple, it is often because we are wounded and our heart is rebelling against the truth.

    My body is a temple of God; however, as an individual, I am not THE temple of God. Rather, the Body of heart-based followers of Jesus is that temple which is the TRUE Church. This is why most American churches are powerless. The people come together as many individuals rather than as a single unit.

    Many American Christians do not like OR talk about fasting from food. I suspect this is because we feel a sense of entitlement especially when it comes to food. It is NO coincidence that America’s food supply has become polluted with man-made chemicals which in turn affect our ability to absorb whatever nutrients are in the food. We are also willing to let millions and millions of people work as slaves so that we can consume whatever we want.

    The best fast I’ve found is to fast food every other day (not legalistically). I learned about that fast from a missionary in Mexico who has said, “We only raise the dead 10 percent of the time.”


  6. Nehemiah 1:4, 2 Samuel 1:12, and Joel 2:12 all reference fasting and mourning as if separate actions. I do not agree with the statements that fasting does not literally mean food. I do believe that fasting requires spiritual and natural components though. It is not just abstaining from food.

  7. Another way to look at it Parker….Manna is not food you eat. What the Israelites received was revelation/knowledge. Great blog!!!!

  8. You say that fasting has nothing to do with food but the Scriptures say otherwise.
    In particular you say that during the 40 days that Jesus was being tempted he didn’t go without food for these 40 days. However, Luke 4:1-2 say ““And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry.” It says it plainly here that he fasted food for the entirety of the time he was being tempted by Satan. This is why Satan tempted Jesus by telling him to turn the stones to bread.

    Also when the question about fasting is asked in Luke, chapter 5 verses 33-35, verse 33 says this, ““And they said to him, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink.”
    They bring up the fact that His disciples are eating and drinking while they are not, it is why they ask.

    As well, in the prophesy of Joel, the Lord’s first response to the fasting of his people is this, “The Lord answered and said to his people, ‘Behold, I am sending to you grain, wine, and oil, and you will be satisfied; and I will no more make you a reproach among the nations.’ ”
    The first thing He sends is grain, food. Their fasting made them hungry, as did Jesus’ while he was tempted. Fasting, though clearly spiritual, is not solely a spiritual act but a physical act as well.

    • Parker: A spiritually fatal error that we make in trying to understand the scriptures, is our insistence on trying to understand them from the literal interpretation. The Bible is a book that is intended to be understood spiritually (1 Cor. 2:14). Indeed, the natural man cannot understand the “things of God.” You are absolutely correct when you assert that the Bible says the things that you acknowledge that they say. The question is, what do they mean by what they say. Most people say they mean what they say, and of course you are free to take that approach. However, when the Bible talks about food, it is talking about spiritual food. When it talks about drink, it is talking about spiritual drink.

      Christ is a power that dwells in YOUR flesh (1 John 4:4). The allegory of the temptation of Christ, therefore, has deep spiritual meeting. For example, the flesh of Christ is meat, and the blood of Christ is drink. The disciples of Christ are eating and drinking because he is with them, and he is their meat and drink. When he is taken away from them, then they will fast. Of course, because he is no longer with them, and thus the disciples have nothing to eat after he departs. None of this has anything to do with literal food. “The words that I speak, they are spirit and they are life.

      Our culture gets its spiritual understanding from organized religion, and unfortunately, organized religion doesn’t understand these things.

      Thanks so much for your comment.

      • I appreciate the response. I’m having some trouble following though. How does fasting come into play now that we have the Holy Spirit? We have spiritual food and drink from the Spirit so how does fasting enter into it all?

        • You have to understand the concept of Jesus the bridegroom “being taken away from you” (Matt. 9:15). You are the temple of God, and Christ dwells within you (1 Cor. 3:16; Col. 1:27; 1 John 4:4). However, we kill the Christ on our crosses (trials, tribulations). When that happens, we are desolate, meaning we have no power because Christ has “left the temple” and the whole building comes crashing down (Matt. 24). During this time we are exhorted to “fast” (mourn), and when we fast, do not eat or drink anything (in other words, don’t worry about seeking to imbibe spiritual food from the outside (from man, in whatever form that spiritual food from him may take), because it is Christ that is our meat and drink).

          This is how the Christ within us is resurrected, or restored (Ps. 23:3). The biblical concept of “crying out” (fasting, or mourning) is critical to the resurrection of Christ within you.

          As to the Holy Spirit, it is God himself. The equation is simple: God is a spirit (John 4:24), plus God says “be ye holy, for I am holy, equals God is the Holy Spirit. So the Spirit that is God (the Holy Spirit) dwells in us. But we don’t honor and obey the Spirit of God, and we thus kill the Spirit. This is Christ’s “death on the cross.” But this does not have to be a permanent death. If we will DO what the biblical Christ tells us to do, he can and will be resurrected within us.

          • I gave this thought many times.. each journey brought varied perspectives, so seeing that you mention the biblical concept of “crying out” “is critical to the resurrection of the Christ within”.. at the exact moment Jesus succumbs to this world, he cries out asking why he has been forsaken by The Father. The death of the Son of man, yes…. thank you for the seed of deeper prayer and meditation.

  9. Sorry I think I may need to take back my comment as I haven’t fully read the blog and may not have full understanding of what the writer is saying. Sorry for this. My mistake.

  10. Writer- You just don’t want to fast food;)! Manipulating scripture is not appropriate. Please don’t try to convince others not to. It is powerful and effective to fast food. it is very biblical and clear all throughout scripture that fasting food when led by the Holy Spirit should be party of our walk. It is clearly demonstrated to us by Jesus himself. I for one am on board and will watch the fruit of it;)

  11. And here is the paradox. You say that seeking men to teach you is an abomination and idolatry, and yet you blog so others can come and learn from you. What to do, what to do? LOL I’m learning much from you, and I thank God for your insight.

    • Tammy, this is a great comment, although it is not the first time I’ve heard it. The reason I do what I do is to help people to understand that it is BECAUSE man has no answers that we must go to the one who has the answers, and that one is inside you. Thus, my entire purpose is to help lead people away from man and to the true source that has all answers.

      I am very appreciative of your interest in my work, and glad you are deriving at least some benefit from it.

  12. Paul,
    It is truly a great day to see you are back and Decoding Scripture the only way you can do!

    This particular writing spoke in volumes to myself, and I agree wholeheartedly on your assertion that “fasting” is in fact “mourning”.
    Humans naturally don’t want to go through this part of their spiritual journey, they will seek every other explanation and distraction in order not to pass through this narrow gate.
    Why? it hurts and no one wants to hurt.

    The comfort is found in the knowing/gnosis that we indeed are aiding/helping others as our Christ within travels/leaves us to seek souls in need of salvation…words alone cannot accomplish this task, our Christ energy is called to its mission of Love for our fellow brothers & sisters. Our mourning is not in vain…

    We stand in line waiting for this moment, the most important time in our lives. Do we really want to jump out of line? Oh, my fellow soul, why let someone else take your place? Go, mourn, be brave. As you live in the world, remember the world needs you, renew the world with your goodness and in doing so you shall free your smiling soul.

    Isaiah 41:10
    Fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

    Isaiah 43:2
    When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.

    Love, Fran 🙂

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