How Long Should I Fast?
"How long you fast is entirely up to you and the leadership of the Holy Spirit. The Bible gives examples of fasts that lasted one day or part of a day (Judges 20:26; 1 Samuel 7:6; 2 Samuel 1:12; 3:35; Nehemiah 9:1; Jeremiah 36:6), a one-night fast (Daniel 6:18–24), three-day fasts (Esther 4:16; Acts 9:9), seven-day fasts (1 Samuel 31:13; 2 Samuel 12:16–23), a fourteen-day fast (Acts 27:33–34), a twenty-one day fast (Daniel 10:3–13), forty-day fasts (Deuteronomy 9:9; 1 Kings 19:8; Matthew 4:2), and fasts of unspecified lengths (Matthew 9:14; Luke 2:37; Acts 13:2; 14:23)." -What Christians Need to Know about Fasting by Sam Storms
Occasional Short Fasts
Whether denying yourself food or some other pleasure, an occasional fast that lasts six, twelve, or twenty-four hours is the most manageable... You are not necessarily making a commitment to do this type of fast again, as it is a one-time fast for a specific purpose.
This is normally a regular act of abstinence, for example one day a week. You may abstain from food, or make some other sacrifice. This type of fast is a way of integrating the spiritual discipline of fasting into your life on an ongoing basis.
Longer fasts likewise can take the form of abstinence from food or some other sacrifice. Some good options for a non-food fast would be abstaining from watching TV from Monday to Friday, reading a biography of a great man or woman of God each week, or dedicating every evening for a week to praying with friends...A longer water-only fast might last from one to three days. If you are fasting from something other than food, your longer fast might last a week. Some use Lent as a time for a longer fast.
This is the hard path of fasting—choosing to give up something that you need or value for an extended period of time. One non-food extended fast would be to get up an hour earlier each day for a month in order to pray, worship, or read Scripture or a Christian book.
Some extended fasts are open-ended, for example, where you make a commitment not to break your fast until your goals have been achieved. Defining your goals is particularly important here. Again, this type of fast should not be considered until you have gained some experience.
Occasional Group Fasts
Such fasts can be called by a church or a group of churches or, on a larger scale, even to a nation during a time of crisis. Alternately, such fasts can be called by a small group or even by a Christian business. With the right leadership, calling groups to prayer and fasting can be a very powerful tool.
Longer Group Fasts
The range of options for a group fast is extensive. Are you all going to fast at the same time, or are you setting up a rotation? If you are going to do a water-only fast, are there some who need to do a partial fast for health reasons? Is this an open-ended fast until a goal is achieved, or are you fasting for a specifically defined period?
To read more about these kinds of fasts in the original article by Dr. Peter Holmes, click here.
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