This time of year many Christians are in a period of fasting, but fasting is a spiritual discipline that can be practiced at any point. Sometimes, like during Lent, there’s a communal fast built into a particular season of the Church calendar. At other points, we might participate in a personal fast to help discern or draw closer to God in certain situations.

Though there are freedoms we have in choosing when and how we should fast, these guiding questions can help ensure that our fasts are for the right reasons.

Who am I trying to please? 

In Matthew 6, Jesus warns of the dangers of fasting based on trying to “look” righteous. We, too, can easily fall into the danger of wanting to behave in a way that gets attention from others, instead of just humbly seeking God. When thinking about motivations, this can show up in our culture as “fasting” that actually is more about status or weight loss. What makes fasting spiritual is more about closeness and openness to God.

What am I trying to learn? 

Fasting isn’t done randomly. Often, like in Ezra 8, there’s a desire to learn or hear something specific from God. Other times, a fast shows repentance for sin. Occasionally, fasting is used for solidarity, trying to understand what it means to go without when this is a daily reality for many around the world and in our own communities. There are other cases where fasting is simply done to draw near to God, spending time only focused on him. Before you fast, try to determine what you’re trying to accomplish.

How will 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 specific fast bring me closer to God? 

Isaiah 58 is another example of God’s frustration with fasting. Israel is giving up food, yet many continue to exploit those around them. Others are becoming so hangry, they physically start fighting. God proclaims that he’d much rather see a “fast” that sets injustices right– providing food to the hungry and clothes to those in need. Consider what you’re giving up and how it impacts your spiritual life.


He’s much less concerned with what your fast looks like, or even what you’re fasting from, and more with how your fast will make you more like him: full of mercy, justice, and love.