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Fausset's Bible Dictionary [1]

The word ( Tsum ) never occurs in the Pentateuch. The Mosaic law, though directing minutely the foods to be eaten and to be shunned, never enjoins fasting. The false asceticism so common in the East was carefully avoided. On the yearly day of atonement, the 10th day of the 7th month, Israelites were directed to "afflict the soul" ( Leviticus 16:29-31;  Leviticus 23:27;  Numbers 30:13). This significant term implies that the essence of scriptural "fasting" lies in self humiliation and penitence, and that the precise mode of subduing the flesh to the spirit, and of expressing sorrow for sin, is left to the conscientious discretion of each person. In  Acts 27:9 the yearly day of atonement is popularly designated "the fast."

But God, while not discountenancing outward acts of sorrow expressive of inward penitence, declares, "is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal the bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest thy naked that thou cover him, and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?" ( Isaiah 58:4-7.) Compare similar warnings against mistaking outward fasting as meritorious before God:  Malachi 3:14;  Matthew 6:16.

The only other periodical fasts in the Old Testament were those connected with the capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar: the fast of the 4th month commemorated its capture ( Jeremiah 39:2;  Jeremiah 52:6-7); that of the 5th month the burning of the temple and the chief houses ( Jeremiah 52:12-14); that of the 7th the murder of Gedaliah ( Jeremiah 41:1-3); that of the 10th the beginning of the siege ( Zechariah 7:3-5;  Zechariah 8:19).  Jeremiah 52:4, "did ye at all fast unto ME, even to ME?" Nay, it was to gratify yourselves in hypocritical will worship. If it had been to Me, ye would have separated yourselves not merely from food but from your sins.

Once that the principle is acted on, "he that eateth eateth to the Lord, and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not" ( Romans 14:6), and "meat commendeth us not to God, for neither if we eat are we the better, neither if we eat not are we the worse" ( 1 Corinthians 8:8), fasting and eating are put in their true place, as means not ends. There are now 28 yearly fasts in the Jewish calendar. Daniel's ( Daniel 10:3) mode of fasting was, "I ate no pleasant bread," i.e. "I ate unleavened bread, even the bread of affliction" ( Deuteronomy 16:3), "neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth." In  Matthew 9:14 "fast" is explained by "mourn" in  Matthew 9:15, so that fasting was but an outward expression of mourning ( Psalms 69:10), not meritorious, nor sanctifying in itself.

A mark of the apostasy is "commanding to abstain from meats which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving" ( 1 Timothy 4:3). The "neglecting (not sparing) of the body," while seeming to deny self, really tends "to the satisfying of (satiating to repletion) the flesh." Ordinances of "will worship" gratify the flesh (self) while seeming to mortify it; for "self crowned with thorns in the cloister is as selfish as self crowned with ivy in the revel" ( Colossians 2:18-23). Instances of special fasts of individuals and of the people in the Old Testament, either in mourning and humiliation or in prayer, occur in  Judges 20:26;  1 Samuel 1:7;  1 Samuel 20:34;  1 Samuel 31:13;  2 Samuel 1:12;  2 Samuel 12:21;  2 Samuel 3:35;  1 Kings 21:9-12;  Ezra 8:21-23;  Ezra 10:6;  Esther 4:16;  Nehemiah 1:4.

National fasts are alluded to in  1 Samuel 7:6 (wherein the drawing of water and pouring it out before Jehovah expressed their confession of powerlessness and utter prostration:  Psalms 22:14;  Psalms 58:7;  2 Samuel 14:14);  2 Chronicles 20:3;  Jeremiah 36:6-10;  Nehemiah 9:1;  Joel 1:14;  Joel 2:15. In New Testament times the strict Jews fasted twice a week ( Luke 18:12), namely, on the second and fifth days. While Christ is with His people either in body or in spirit, fasting is unseasonable, for joy alone can be where He is; but when His presence is withdrawn, sorrow comes to the believer and fasting is one mode of expressing his sorrowing after the Lord. This is Christ's teaching,  Matthew 9:15. As to the texts quoted for fasting as a mean of spiritual power, the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus manuscripts omit  Matthew 17:21; they omit also "and fasting,"  Mark 9:29. They and Alexandrinus manuscript omit "fasting and,"  1 Corinthians 7:5. Evidently the growing tendency to asceticism in post apostolic times accounts for these interpolations.

The apostles "prayed with fasting" in ordaining elders ( Acts 13:3;  Acts 14:23). But this continuance of the existing Jewish usage never divinely ordered does not make it obligatory on us, except in so far as we severally, by experience, find it conducive to prayer. Moses', Elijah's, and Christ's (the great Antitype) 40 days' foodlessness was exceptional and miraculous. Forty is significant of punishment for sin, confession, or affliction. Christ, the true Israel, denied Himself for 40 days, as Israel indulged the flesh 40 years. They tempted God that time; He overcame the tempter all the 40 days ( Genesis 7:4;  Genesis 7:12;  Numbers 14:33;  Numbers 32:13-14;  Psalms 95:10;  Deuteronomy 25:3;  2 Corinthians 11:24;  Ezekiel 29:11;  Ezekiel 4:6;  Jonah 3:4).

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]


1. In the OT . ‘To afflict the soul’ Is the term by which fasting is usually mentioned (cf.   Leviticus 16:29-31;   Leviticus 23:27;   Leviticus 23:32 ,   Numbers 29:7;   Numbers 30:13; the two terms are combined in   Psalms 35:13 ,   Isaiah 58:3;   Isaiah 58:5 ). In the period preceding the Captivity we find no universal fast prescribed. The institution of the Day of Atonement the only fast ordained in the Law was traditionally ascribed to this period; but there is no certain reference to it before Sir 50:5 ff. Zechariah does not allude to it, and   Ezekiel 40:1-49;   Ezekiel 41:1-26;   Ezekiel 42:1-20;   Ezekiel 43:1-27;   Ezekiel 44:1-31;   Ezekiel 45:1-25;   Ezekiel 46:1-24;   Ezekiel 47:1-23;   Ezekiel 48:1-35 prescribes a more simple ceremonial for such an occasion, whence it may be inferred that the elaborate ritual of   Leviticus 16:1-34 was not yet customary.   Nehemiah 7:73 to   Nehemiah 9:38 records a general fast on the 24th day of the 7th month, and therefore the 10th day of that month the proper date for the Day of Atonement was probably not yet set apart for this purpose. Moreover, the characteristic ideas of the fast its public confession, its emphasis on sin and atonement are late, and can be compared with post-exilic analogies (  Ezra 9:1-15 ,   Nehemiah 1:4-11;   Nehemiah 9:3 ). See Atonement [Day of]. Previously to the Captivity fasting was observed by individuals or the whole people on special occasions (cf. 2Sa 12:16 ,   1 Kings 21:27 ,   Judges 20:26 ,   1 Samuel 7:6 ,   2 Chronicles 20:3 ).

After the Captivity this type of fasts of course continued (cf.   Ezra 8:21-23 ,   Nehemiah 1:4;   Nehemiah 9:1 ). But in   Zechariah 7:3-5;   Zechariah 8:19 we hear of four general fasts which were observed with comparative regularity. On 17th Tammuz (July) a fast was ordained to commemorate the capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar (  Jeremiah 39:2;   Jeremiah 52:6 ). This was celebrated on the 17th day of the 4th month, and not on the 9th, because, according to the Talmudic tradition, the 17th was the day on which Moses broke the tables of the Law, on which the daily offering ceased owing to the famine caused by the Chaldæan siege, and on which Antiochus Epiphanes burnt the Law and introduced, an idol into the Holy Place. On the 9th day of the 5th month (Ab) was celebrated a fast in memory of the burning of the Temple and city (  2 Kings 25:8 ,   Jeremiah 52:12 ). The 9th, and not the 7th or 10th, was the prescribed day, because tradition placed on the 9th the announcement that the Israelites were not to enter Canaan, and the destruction of the Second Temple. On the 3rd of Tishri (October) the murder of Gedaliah was commemorated by a fast (  Jeremiah 41:1 ), and on the 10th of Tebeth (January) another fast recalled the siege of Jerusalem by the Chaldæans (  2 Kings 25:1 ,   Jeremiah 52:4 ). Besides these, we hear of a Fast of Esther being observed; on this see Purim.

Fasting probably meant complete abstinence, though the Talmud allowed lentils to be eaten during the period of mourning. No work was done during a fast ( Leviticus 16:29;   Leviticus 16:31;   Leviticus 23:32 ,   Numbers 29:7 ), and sackcloth and ashes were sometimes used (  Daniel 9:3 ,   Jonah 3:6-7 ). The usual reasons for a fast were either mourning (  1 Samuel 31:13 ) or a wish to deprecate the Divine wrath (  2 Samuel 12:16-17 ).

2. In the NT . We hear that frequent additional fasts were imposed by tradition, and that strict observers kept two weekly fasts (  Luke 18:12 ) on Thursday and Monday commemorating, as it seems, the days on which Moses ascended and came down from the Mount. After the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, a huge system of fasts was instituted, and the present Jewish calendar prescribes 22, besides the Day of Atonement, the Fast of Esther, and the four fasts of   Zechariah 8:19 .

3. Christianity and fasting . Jesus refused to lay down any specific injunctions to fast. To prescribe forms was not His purpose; all outward observance was to be dictated by an inward principle. He Himself probably kept the usual fasts, and individual ones, as during the Temptation. But He laid emphasis in His teaching on the inutility of fasting except as a part of personal godliness, and gave plain warnings of its possible abuse by hypocrisy (  Matthew 6:16-18;   Matthew 9:14-17 ,   Mark 2:18-22 ,   Luke 5:33-39 ). The early Church used to fast before solemn appointments (  Acts 13:2;   Acts 14:23 ); and St. Paul alludes to his fastings, whether voluntary or compulsory, in   2 Corinthians 6:5;   2 Corinthians 11:27 . In time a greater stress was put on the value of fasting, as is shown by the probable insertion of an allusion to it in   Matthew 17:21 ,   Mark 9:29 , Act 10:30 ,   1 Corinthians 7:5 .

A. W. F. Blunt.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [3]

Fast, Fasting

There seems to have been a disposition in all men, and from the earliest ages of antiquity, to testify a somewhat of sorrow in the mind in all abstinence, at certain times, and upon certain occasions, from food, by way of punishment for sin. Indeed, real and unfeigned sorrow of the heart will of itself naturally induce abstinence. For let a man be supposed to return from his labour with a keen appetite, and let it be supposed, that some one meets him at the door of his house with any evil tidings, his child or some beloved friend is dead, or himself threatened with some adversity; we know that the sudden relation of such, or the like calamities, will have an immediate effect to check the propensity of hunger. But whether the first observance of fasts had their origin in those feelings of nature, I would not presume to say; yet certain it is, the very mind of man since the fall hath always leaned to somewhat of doing, or suffering, by way of propitiation for the sins and transgressions of nature. We find this principle very general in the history of mankind. The Jews were very tenacious of their fast days; so were, and so are, the Musselmen of the Turks; and so are modern Christians, who observe the ritual of the form, more than regard the power of godliness. No one can doubt, who knows any thing of the human frame and character, that every individual by nature feels in himself a disposition to enter into a compromise or commutation with God; and if the Lord would but relax in certain demands which are enforced, he shall have offerings, of another kind by way of compensation or atonement. The cry of the heart in that sinner the prophet Micah speaks of, is the cry of every man's heart, more or less, however differently expressed in the various languages of the earth. "Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the High God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my first-born for my transgression; the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?" ( Micah 6:6-7) But the grand question in relation to fasts is, What saith the word of God concerning them? We certainly do not read any thing in the divine appointment of fasts before the days of Moses, and in the patriarchal age. And under the law, excepting the solemn day of atonement, there are no express precepts on the subject. That the people of God set apart days and seasons for the affliction of the soul is most certain, and this by divine command, ( Leviticus 23:27; Lev 23:29) but the reader will be careful to observe, that there is a wide distinction between the sorrow of soul and the fasting of the body. It is concerning fasts we are now speaking; and the subject is, what authority do they derive for observance in Scripture? When holy men of old were, in their hallowed seasons, mourning over the sins of fallen nature, no doubt the bodies were neglected, in numberless instances, in refusing to take food. Indeed, when the soul is absorbed in grief, the body will feel but little inclination to meat. Joshua and the elders of Israel fell upon their faces before the ark, and put dust upon their heads, when the men of Ai had a momentary triumph over Israel. ( Joshua 7:6) David fasted in the case of his child's sickness. ( 2 Samuel 12:16) And the apostle Paul, in the time of his conversion, was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink. ( Acts 9:9) But all these, and many others of a similar kind, were effects from predisposing causes, in which fasting became involuntary, and not enjoined.

Our blessed Lord gives directions how fasts are to be observed, with an eye to the gracious improvement of them, but hath not appointed any particular seasons for their observance. (See  Matthew 6:16-18) From whence arose the long ritual in the Romish church, and the special season of Ember Weeks, and the Wednesdays and Fridays in every week, and the vigil before every saint's day, and the whole of Lent, it is difficult to say. But while men of no religion, and strangers to vital godliness, may, and will take up with the outside of piety, and abstain from their ordinary food on fast days, and glut the appetite with dainties on feast days; the great question still again recurs, what can we gather from the word of God of instruction in relation to fasting? I answer in the words of the apostle, "The kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." ( Romans 4:17)

The life of a truly regenerated believer in Christ, is at all times, and upon all occasions, a life of abstinence and self-denial. Every child of God well knows from his own experience, arising from a body of sin and death that he carries about him, that fleshly lusts of every kind war against the soul; that it is impossible to be too strict in abridging every species of indulgence in the body; and that pampering the flesh, is only causing that flesh to rebel. Hence, therefore, he desires to observe a perpetual fast in things pertaining to the body, that through grace he may put on the Lord Jesus Christ, "making no provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lust thereof." ( Romans 13:14) But after the most rigid observance of humblings in the body, it is the distinguishing character of a truly regenerated believer in Christ, that neither by fastings, nor prayers, nor alms-deeds, nor offerings, no, nor the whole observance of outward or inward things, can poor fallen man recommend himself to God. Well is it for the faithful follower of Jesus, that He, the glorious High Priest of our profession, "beareth away the iniquity of our most holy things." ( Exodus 28:38) Our fast sins, our prayer sins, our ordinance sins, all need the cleansing laver of his blood to take away, and but for this there could be no acceptation of our persons, but the holy jealousy of the Lord in the midst of fasting, prayer and humiliation, might consume us on our very knees.

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary [4]

Abstinence from food, more particularly that abstinence which is used on a religious account. The Jews had every year a stated and solemn fast on the 1-th day of the month Tisri, which generally answered to the close of our September. This solemnity was a day of strict rest and fasting to the Israelites. Many of them spent the day before in prayer, and such like penitential exercises. On the day itself, at least in later times, they made a tenfold confession of their sins, and were careful to end all their mutual broils.

See  Leviticus 16:1-34 : Numb. 29: 7, 12.   Leviticus 23:23;  Leviticus 23:32 . Individuals also fasted on any extraordinary distress. Thus David fasted during the sickness of his adulterous child,  2 Samuel 12:21 . Ahab, when he was threatened with ruin,  1 Kings 12:27 . Daniel, when he understood that the Jewish captivity drew to an end, 9th and 10th chapters of Nehemiah, Joshua, &c. However light some think of religious fasting, it seems it has been practised by most nations from the remotest antiquity. The Egyptians, Phoenicians, and Assyrians, had their fasts as well as the Jews. Porphyry affirms that the Egyptians, before their stated sacrifices, always fasted a great many days; sometimes for six weeks.

The Greeks observed their fasts much in the same manner. At Rome, kings and emperors fasted themselves. Numa Pompilius, Julius Czsar, Augustus, Vespasian, and others, we are told, had their stated fast days; and Julian the apostate was so exact in this observation, that he outdid the priests themselves. The Pythagoreans frequently fasted rigidly for a long time; and Pythagoras, their master, continued his fast, it is said, for forty days together. The Brachmans, and the Chinese, have also their stated fasts. Every one knows how much fasting has been considered as an important rite in the church of Rome, and the extremes they have run into in this respect.

See article ABSTINENCE. The church of England also has particular seasons for fasting, especially that of Lent, which is to be observed as a time of humiliation before Easter, the general festival of our Saviour's resurrection. Fast days are also appointed by the legislature upon any extraordinary occasions of calamity, war, &c.

See art. Rogation, Lent Religious fasting consists,

1. "In abstinence from every animal indulgence, and from food, as far as health and circumstances will admit.

2. In the humble confession of our sins to God, with contrition or sorrow for them.

3. An earnest deprecation of god's displeasure, and humble supplication that he would avert his judgments.

4. An intercession with God for such spiritual and temporal blessings upon ourselves and others which are needful." It does not appear that our Saviour instituted any particular fast, but lift it optional. Any state of calamity and sorrow, however, naturally suggests this.

The propriety of it may appear,

1. From many examples recorded in Scripture.

2. By plain and undeniable inferences from Scripture,  Matthew 7:16 .

3. From divine commands given on some occasions, though there are no commands which prescribe it as a constant duty.

4. It may be argued from its utility.

The end or uses of it are these.

1. A natural expression of our sorrow.

2. A help to devotional exercises.

3. Keeping the body in subjection.

4. May be rendered subservient to charity. How far or how long a person should abstain from food, depends on circumstances. The great end to be kept in view is, humiliation for, and abstinence from sin. "If, " says Marshall, "abstinence divert our minds, by reason of a gnawing appetite, then you had better eat sparingly, as Daniel in his greatest fast, "  Daniel 10:2-3 . They, however, who in times of public distress, when the judgments of God are in the earth, and when his providence seems to call for humiliation, will not relinquish any of their sensual enjoyments, nor deny themselves in the least, cannot be justified; since good men in all ages, more or less, have humbled themselves on such occasions; and reason as well as Scripture evidently prove it to be our duty,  Matthew 9:15 .  1 Corinthians 7:5 . Bennet's Christ. Orat. vol. 2: p. 18, 25; Tillotson's Sermons, ser. 39; Simpson's Essay on Feasting; Marshall on Sanc. p. 273, 274.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [5]

has been practised in all ages, and among all nations, in times of mourning, sorrow, and affliction. We see no example of fasting, properly so called, before Moses. Since the time of Moses, examples of fasting have been very common among the Jews. Joshua and the elders of Israel remained prostrate before the ark from morning till evening, without eating, after Israel was defeated at Ai,  Joshua 7:6 . The eleven tribes which fought against that of Benjamin, fell down on their faces before the ark, and so continued till evening without eating,  Judges 20:26 . David fasted while the first child he had by Bathsheba was sick,  2 Samuel 12:16 . The Heathens sometimes fasted: the king of Nineveh, terrified by Jonah's preaching, ordered that not only men, but also beasts, should continue without eating or drinking; should be covered with sackcloth, and each after their manner should cry to the Lord,  Jonah 3:5-6 . The Jews, in times of public calamity, appointed extraordinary fasts, and made even the children at the breast fast,  Joel 2:16 . Moses fasted forty days upon Mount Horeb,  Exodus 24:18 . Elijah passed as many days without eating,  1 Kings 19:8 . Our Saviour fasted forty days and forty nights in the wilderness,  Matthew 4:2 . These fasts were miraculous, and out of the common rules of nature.

2. Beside the solemn fast of expiation instituted by divine authority, the Jews appointed certain days of humiliation, called the fasts of the congregation. The calamities for which these were enjoined, were a siege, pestilence, diseases, famine, &c. They were observed on the second and fifth days of the week: they began at sunset, and continued till midnight of the following day. On these days they wore sackcloth next the skin, and rent their clothes; they sprinkled ashes on their heads, and neither washed their hands, nor anointed their heads with oil. The synagogues were filled with suppliants, whose prayers were long and mournful, and their countenances dejected with all the marks of sorrow and repentance.

3. As to the fasts observed by Christians, it does not appear by his own practice, or by his commands to his disciples, that our Lord instituted any particular fast. But when the Pharisees reproached him, that his disciples did not fast so often as theirs, or as John the Baptist's, he replied, "Can ye make the children of the bride-chamber fast while the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bride-groom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days,"   Luke 5:34-35 . Fasting is also recommended by our Saviour in his sermon on the mount; not as a stated, but as an occasional, duty of Christians, for the purpose of humbling their minds under the afflicting hand of God; and he requires that this duty be performed in sincerity, and not for the sake of ostentation,  Matthew 6:16 .

4. Although Christians, says Dr. Neander, did not by any means retire from the business of life, yet they were accustomed to devote many separate days entirely to examining their own hearts, and pouring them out before God, while they dedicated their life anew to him with uninterrupted prayers, in order that they might again return to their ordinary occupations with a renovated spirit of zeal and seriousness, and with renewed powers of sanctification. These days of holy devotion, days of prayer and penitence, which individual Christians appointed for themselves, according to their individual necessities, were often a kind of fast-days. In order that their sensual feelings might less distract and impede the occupation of their heart with its holy contemplations, they were accustomed on these days to limit their corporeal wants more than usual, or to fast entirely. In the consideration of this, we must not overlook the peculiar nature of that hot climate in which Christianity was first promulgated. That which was spared by their abstinence on these days was applied to the support of the poorer brethren.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [6]

Fasting was a common practice among Israelites in both Old and New Testament times. People went without food or drink for a period, usually for some religious purpose. It may have been to express sorrow ( 1 Samuel 31:13;  1 Kings 21:27;  Nehemiah 1:4), repentance ( 1 Samuel 7:6;  Joel 2:12;  Daniel 9:3-4) or sincerity in prayer ( 2 Chronicles 20:3-4;  Ezra 8:23).

The only official fast according to the Jewish law was the annual Day of Atonement (assuming that ‘to afflict yourselves’ means ‘to fast’;  Leviticus 23:27). The Jews later introduced a series of fasts to mourn the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon in 587 BC ( Zechariah 8:19). Because of the association of fasting with mourning, Jesus’ disciples did not fast while he was with them. That was a time of joy. They fasted only when he was taken from them and killed; but their sorrow was turned into joy at his resurrection ( Luke 5:33-35).

Both Old and New Testaments speak of those who fasted insincerely. Some people made a show of their fasting, thinking they were impressing others, and in particular impressing God; but they were only inviting God’s condemnation ( Isaiah 58:3-5;  Matthew 6:16-18;  Luke 18:12). By contrast, God approved of true fasting, whether individual or collective, when it was combined with genuine prayer ( Matthew 4:1-4;  Luke 2:37;  Acts 13:2-3).

The Bible gives no explanation of the practical purpose of fasting. Examples of fasting in the New Testament show that it accompanied prayer when people faced unusually difficult tasks or decisions, or met unusually strong opposition from Satan. The purpose of the fast may have been to separate them as much as possible from the common affairs of everyday life. This would enable them, without distraction, to concentrate all their spiritual powers on the important issues before them.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [7]

In all ages, and among all nations, fasting has been practiced in times of sorrow, and affliction,  Jonah 3:5 . It may be regarded as a dictate of nature, which under these circumstances refuses nourishment, and suspends the cravings of hunger. In the Bible no example is mentioned of fasting, properly so-called, before Moses. His forty days' fast, like that of Elijah and of our Lord, was miraculous,  Deuteronomy 9:9   1 Kings 19:8   Matthew 4:2 . The Jews often had recourse to this practice, when they had occasion to humble themselves before God, to confess their sins and deprecate his displeasure,  Judges 20:26   1 Samuel 7:6   2 Samuel 12:16   Nehemiah 9:1   1 Kings 19:8   Jeremiah 36:9 . Especially in times of public calamity, they appointed extraordinary fasts, and made even the children at the breast fast,  Joel 2:16   Daniel 10:2-3 . They began the observance of their fasts, at sunset, and remained without eating until the same hour the next day. The great day of expiation was probably the only annual and national fast day among them.

It does not appear by his own practice or by his commands, that our Lord instituted any particular fast. On one occasion, he intimated that his disciples would fast after his death,  Luke 5:34,35 . Accordingly, the life of the apostles and first believers was a life of self-denials, sufferings, and fasting,  2 Corinthians 5:7   11:27 . Our Savior recognized the custom, and the apostles practiced it as occasion required,  Matthew 6:16-18   Acts 13:3   1 Corinthians 7:5 .

Holman Bible Dictionary [8]

 Luke 4:2  Acts 9:9  Ezra 10:6 Esther 4:16 3 Daniel 10:3

Fasting is the laying aside of food for a period of time when the believer is seeking to know God in a deeper experience. It is to be done as an act before God in the privacy of one's own pursuit of God ( Exodus 34:28;  1 Samuel 7:6;  1 Kings 19:8;  Matthew 6:17 ).

Fasting is to be done with the object of seeking to know God in a deeper experience ( Isaiah 58:1;  Zechariah 7:5 ). Fasting relates to a time of confession ( Psalm 69:10 ). Fasting can be a time of seeking a deeper prayer experience and drawing near to God in prevailing prayer ( Ezra 8:23;  Joel 2:12 ). The early church often fasted in seeking God's will for leadership in the local church ( Acts 13:2 ). When the early church wanted to know the mind of God, there was a time of prayer and fasting.

C. Robert Marsh

King James Dictionary [9]

F'ASTING, ppr. Abstaining from food.

F'ASTING, n. The act of abstaining from food.

Webster's Dictionary [10]

(p. pr. & vb. n.) of Fast

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [11]

See Abstinence.