Though for many fasting is a regularly practiced spiritual discipline, when we embark on longer fast it is often for a specific purpose. Which leads to this question, “What should I fast about?”

As a church we are fasting for direction in this new chapter of King’s Chapel’s history. We’re fasting for a fresh moving of the Holy Spirit, for our leaders, and for our missionaries. 

But for you, individually, what should you fast for? What petition will you consistently bring to the throne of grace during this fast? Elmer Towns in his book Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough looks at nine fasts in the Bible. Why did these people fast? What did they need from God? Here is a very brief overview of the nine fasts Dr. Towns’ studies:

1. The Disciples Fast: Fasting for freedom from addiction (see Matt 17:20-21). If we fast, we can break the besetting sins that limit a life of freedom in Christ.

2. The Ezra Fast: Fasting to solve problems (see Ezra 8:21-23). If we fast for a specific purpose, we may solve a debilitating problem.

3. The Samuel Fast: Fasting to win people to Christ (see 1 Sam 7:1-8). If we fast and pray for revival, God will pour himself on his people.

4. The Elijah Fast: Fasting to break crippling fears and mental problems (see 1 Kings 19:2-18). Through fasting, God will show us how to overcome negative emotional and personal habits.

5. The Widow’s Fast: Fasting to provide for the needy (1 Kings 17:12). When we sacrifice our own physical needs, God enables us to focus on and provide for the needs of others.

6. The Saint Paul Fast: Fasting for insight and decision making (see Acts 9:9-19). If we fast to subject our will to God’s, he will reveal his will to us.

7. The Daniel Fast: Fasting for health and physical healing (see Dan 1:12-20). When we fast for physical well-being, God will touch our bodies and enrich our souls.

8. The John the Baptist Fast: Fasting for an influential testimony (see Matt 3:4; Luke 1:15). If we fast for the influence of our testimonies, God will use us.

9. The Esther Fast: Fasting for protection from the evil one (see Esther 4:16). If we fast for protection and deliverance from Satan, God will deliver us from evil.

If one of these reasons to fast resonates with a situation you’re in, take time to study the scriptures about their fast. Then when you pray, pray with faith.

Though we consider all of these to be heroes of the faith, remember the words of James, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit,” (James 5:17-18).

The same God who heard and answered their prayers will hear and answer yours.

by Matt Schmidly