Find out how to start your first fast or dive into the deep end to learn the theology behind fasting.
Articles and Written Sermons
Bill Bright (1921-2003)
Bill Bright was the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ (now Cru), currently the world's largest Christian ministry, which Bill Bright led for more than 50 years. The ministry now serves people in 191 countries through a staff of 26,000 full-time employees and more than 225,000 trained volunteers. Bright was so motivated by the Great Commission that in 1956 he wrote a booklet titled "The Four Spiritual Laws," which has been printed in some 200 languages and distributed to more than 2.5 billion people, making it the most widely disseminated religious booklet in history.
In 1979, Bright commissioned the JESUS film, a feature-length documentary on the life of Christ, which has since been viewed by more than 5.1 billion people in 234 countries and has become the most widely viewed, as well as most widely translated, film in history (786 languages). In 1996 Bright was presented with the prestigious Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, worth more than $1 million. Bright donated all of his prize money to causes promoting the spiritual benefits of fasting and prayer. Billy Graham, a long-time friend, called Bill Bright "a man whose sincerity and integrity and devotion to our Lord have been an inspiration and a blessing to me ever since the early days of my ministry."
Your Personal Guide to Fasting and Prayer
(Online Booklet: Free)
This 11-page online booklet is both an excellent and very brief introduction to fasting. It covers reasons for fasting, types of fasting, health concerns, the spiritual benefits of fasting, and what to expect while fasting. Dr. Bright begins this booklet with the bold claim, "Fasting is the most powerful spiritual discipline of all the Christian disciplines. Through fasting and prayer, the Holy Spirit can transform your life."
Jump to any chapter of interest:
1. Your Personal Guide to Fasting & Prayer
2. Why You Should Fast
3. How to Fast Safely
4. How Long & What Type of Fast
5. Physical & Spiritual Preparation
6. Managing Your Schedule While Fasting
7. Dealing with the Responses of Friends and Loved Ones
8. How to Make Your Spiritual Experience the Best it Can Be
9. How to Maintain Nutritional Balance and Health from Beginning to End
10. What Physical Effects to Expect
11. How to Finish Your Fast in a Healthy Way
7 Basic Steps to Successful Fasting and Prayer
(Online Booklet: Free)
In this 7-page online booklet Bill Bright discusses the specifics of how you might go about a fast, before, during, and afterward. Bright highlights the helpfulness, at the outset of a fast, of: 1) clearly stating your objectives and prayers in your fast, 2) determining and committing to the kind and length of your fast, and 3) preparing yourself both spiritually and physically. Intentionality and thoughtfulness of how you pursue God spirituality during a fast are keys to success, and Dr. Bright has helpful and succinct advice to offer. How you end a fast matters, as well as your expectation – in faith, during and and after the fast – of God's hearing your prayers and responding to your fasting. Throughout every part – before, during, and after – prayer is indispensable.
Jump to any chapter of interest:
1. 7 Basic Steps to Successful Fasting & Prayer
2. How to Begin Your Fast
3. While You Fast
4. Breaking Your Fast
5. A Final Word
6. How to Experience and Maintain Personal Revival
7. 6 Vital Questions About Prayer
A Hunger for God
(PDF: Free; Kindle: $5; Paperback: $15)
In this book John Piper argues that fasting is an expression of "homesickness" for God. It is like an exclamation point at the end of our prayers saying, "This much, O God, I want you!"
Table of Contents:
Introduction: A Homesickness For God
1. Is Fasting Christian? New Fasting For The New Wine
2. Man Shall Not Live By Bread Alone The Desert Feast Of Fasting
3. Fasting For The Reward Of The Father Jesus' Radical God-Orientation In Fasting
4. Fasting For The King's Coming How Much Do We Miss Him?
5. Fasting And The Course Of History A Call For Discernment And Desire
6. Finding God In The Garden Of Pain A Different Fast For The Sake Of The Poor
7. Fasting For The Little Ones Abortion And The Sovereignty Of God Over False Worldviews
Conclusion: Why Does God Reward Fasting?
(See bio above)
The Coming Revival: America's Call to Fast, Pray and Seek God's Face
(224 pages – Paperback: $1-4)
The Coming Revival begins with a moving account of how God led Bill Bright, his wife, and many of the staff and friends of Campus Crusade for Christ to fast, pray, and seek God's face for forty days in 1994. After that fast, Bright and others invited many of America's Christian leaders to gather in Orlando, Florida, in December of that year for three days of fasting and prayer for America's leaders and for a great revival in America and the world through the call to fasting, prayer, and seeking God's face. Over six hundred attended, and many cited those days as among the most significant of their lives.
This book, in part, is that call. In the middle of the book Dr. Bright draws attention to the moral decline of our incredibly privileged and influential nation and to the great degree of spiritual impotence of the church in America. Through biblical and historical examples of God's people seeking his face through prayer, fasting, humbling themselves, and repenting – coupled with God's repeated and dramatic responses to that prayer and fasting – Bright argues that nothing less than faithful fasting and prayer and seeking God's face will be the answer to our problems today. He writes, "We need not wait for a sovereign act of God to bring revival.... Our task is to surrender to the Lordship of Christ and the control of the Holy Spirit, fast and pray, and obey God's Word. Meeting these conditions, we can expect the Holy Spirit to transform our lives" (page 89).
To that end, in the last part of the book Bright thoroughly answers a barrage of questions about fasting, such as, "Why do we need to fast?" and "How does fasting help?" In successive chapters he responds to all kinds of excuses for not fasting and offers pages of practical and spiritual advice that will be helpful before, during, and after fasting. Dr. Bright brings to bear over 50 years of experience of walking with the Lord in this book that is sure to increase your faith and to help you humble yourself, pray, seek God's face, and turn from sin through fasting.
Jentezen Franklin (1962- )
Jentezen Franklin is the senior pastor of Free Chapel in Gainesville, Georgia (since 1989) and Free Chapel OC (Orange County) in Irvine, California (since 2007). His church begins each year with a 21-day fast together. While preparing for a career as a saxophone player, Jentezen felt led by God to become an evangelist. When his brother graduated college, Jentezen dropped out and the two of them began traveling as an evangelistic team. Having visited Free Chapel annually as an evangelist for some years, Franklin became the congregation's pastor when Roy Wellborn, the church's senior pastor, died. Currently, over 10,000 attend Free Chapel each week. Jentezen is the author of New York Times best sellers, Right People, Right Place, Right Plan and Fasting.
(256 pages – Kindle: $8.79; Hardcover: $12.98)
Franklin defines fasting as "refraining from food for a spiritual purpose," and points out that fasting is included among the three normal Christian duties Jesus speaks about in Matthew 6: "When you give...," "When you pray...," and "When you fast." Jesus not only taught us to fast, but he exemplified fasting (Matt 4:2). If he could have accomplished all he came to do without fasting, why would he fast? Franklin's answer is, "The Son of God fasted because he knew there were supernatural things that could only be released that way" (page 14). And if he needed to fast, how much greater is our need to fast?
After discussing some of the differences between types and lengths of fasts, Franklin says there's no formula to determine which is right for you. He simply encourages his readers to begin obeying Jesus's instruction through less intense fasts, working their way up to more intense fasts. The minimum measure and starting point of fasting is whether the degree to which you give up food is meaningful to you: "If it means something to you, it will mean something to God" (35). The goal is humble dependence and love for God. Recalling when he and his wife were first dating and were so caught up in each other that when they went out for a meal they rarely ate all their food, Jentezen writes, "When we are...lovesick for our first love, fasting is easy" (171). For years Franklin's church has fasted together for the first 21 days of the year.
The challenge he leaves his reader with is this: Compare notes at the end of a year in which you ate normally for the first 21 days and one in which you fasted for the first 21 days. Did 21 days of normal eating at the beginning of the year accomplish as much as 21 days of fasting at the beginning of the year – and periodic fasting throughout the year – accomplished?
Dallas Willard was a professor at the University of Southern California's School of Philosophy and a Southern Baptist minister.
The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives
(288 pages - Kindle: $9.78; Paperback: $13.76)
Willard believes that the heart of the New Testament message is that we can become like Christ in character and in power by doing one thing: by following him in the overall style of life he chose for himself. We can, through faith and grace, become like Christ by practicing the types of activities he engaged in – by arranging our lives around the activities he himself practiced in order to remain constantly at home in the fellowship of his Father. What activities did Jesus practice? Such things as solitude and silence, prayer, simple and sacrificial living, intense study and meditation on God's word and God's ways, and service to others.
The practice of what he practiced in his love for God will prove rich soil for our own love for the Father and the Son, by the Holy Spirit, to flourish. And our love for Jesus ought to manifest itself, at least in part, through a resolute will to be like him whom we love. The Spirit of the Disciplines is written to aid you in understanding the disciplines that Jesus practiced and the revolutionary results that can come from them.
Table of Contents:
Foreword and Preface
1. The Secret of the Easy Yoke
2. Making Theology of the Disciplines Practical
3. Salvation is a Life
4. "Little Less Than a God"
5. The Nature of Life
6. Spiritual Life: The Body's Fulfillment
7. St. Paul's Psychology of Redemption – The Example
8. History and the Meaning of the Disciplines
9. Some Main Disciplines for the Spiritual Life
10. Is Poverty Spiritual?
11. The Disciplines and the Power Structures of This World
Appendix I. Jeremy Taylor's Counsel on the Application of Rules for Holy Living
Appendix II. Discipleship: For Super-Christians Only?
Audio & Video
Prayer, Meditation, and Fasting: The Pursuit of Communion with God
Over the course of this six-hour seminar, John Piper discusses:
- Biblical passages on communion with God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
- Communing with God through his word, and reasons for doing so,
- Communing with God through prayer, and praying in sync with the way God works,
- Biblical foundations for and aims of fasting.
You can also read the notes that go with the seminar here.
A Hunger for God
- Sermon series (January 1 – February 19, 1995)
- Prayer, Fasting, and the Course of History
- When the Bridegroom Is Taken Away, They Will Fast—With New Wineskins
- Man Shall Not Live on Bread Alone
- Fasting for the Safety of the Little Ones
- Fasting for the King's Coming
- Fasting for the Father's Reward
- A Fast for Waters That Do Not Fail, Part 1
- A Fast for Waters That Do Not Fail, Part 2