So if we know that Jesus expects us to fast, what does that look like exactly? As much as the explicit command to fast isn’t given, neither is a specific prescription given on how to fast. However, we can determine what kind of fasts are “on the table” (horrible pun) from biblical examples.
This first type of fast is a water fast. Don’t be fooled—this isn’t throwing a steak in the blender, liquefying it, and calling it a fast. This type of fast involves abstaining from both solids and liquids (other than water). We see it exemplified in 2 Chronicles 20, through Judah's King Jehoshaphat. The Lord destroyed their enemies for them. The mighty men showed up to fight, but the fight was over. If you have something in your life that seems like a significant challenge, if the odds are against you and you don't know how you're going to make it, I encourage you to do a Jehoshaphat type of fast with water only. Let the Lord fight for you.
The Daniel fast, as outlined in Daniel 10, is a partial fast. Daniel was in the king’s courts, so he had access to the wealthy lifestyle of the king. He spent three weeks abstaining from certain foods like meat, wine, and choice foods. This fast was purposed to be anti-indulgence and anti-consumeristic. Daniel’s fast was his way of saying, “I have access to a lot of food, so I’m choosing to eat only a little. I’m going to show that my trust is not in wealth or the abundance that I can produce.” If you need clarity or prophetic direction, try doing a Daniel fast.
Although fasting in Scripture is almost always fasting from food, there are other ways to fast. Anything given up temporarily to focus all of our attention on God can be considered a fast. For example, in 1 Corinthians 7:1-5, we see husbands and wives abstaining from sexual intimacy to devote themselves entirely and exclusively to God as a fast. By taking your eyes off the things of the world, you can more successfully turn your attention to Jesus.
Each of these three types of fast is for a specific purpose. Consider choosing the type of fast you do based on what your needs are. If you are up against a significant challenge, try a water fast. If you need prophetic direction, try the Daniel fast. If you need spiritual focus, try fasting the things that distract you from God.