Fasting is a major part of many different world religions. In this paper, we will explore the concept of fasting as it pertains to the major world religions of Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism and then compare them to find similarities and differences. Though fasting is a tenet of each of these religions, the reasons and the ways in which the practitioners of Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism fast may vary.
Fasting in Christianity
Fasting has been a part of Christianity from a very early time. In the Book of Acts, the early believers are depicted as fasting (Acts 13:2) Fasting in Christianity is a voluntary sacrifice of food and sometimes of drink.
Much of what we know about fasting in Christianity comes from the Old Testament. Abstaining from food is the most typical kind of fast (Daniel 6:18). There are occasions when people abstain from both food and drink, though this is not common (Ezra 10:6). Most of the time, fasts are about one day in length (Judges 20:26). Sometimes fasts are longer, however (1 Samuel 31:13).
There are three times in the Bible where people fasted for forty days. These extremely long fasts took place because of very unusual circumstances. The first occasion was when Moses received the Ten Commandments (Exodus 34:28). The next occasion was when Elijah encountered God before the anointing of Elisha (1 Kings 19:8). The third occasion for such a fast was when Jesus was in the wilderness and tempted by Satan (Matthew 4:2).
There are many reasons that a Christian could give for fasting. Fasting is considered to be an act of sacrifice. When we fast and experience hunger, we are reminded of God and His sacrifice for us. While fasting denies the flesh comfort, it feeds the spirit strength.
Fasts in Christianity are voluntary and done in obedience to God. When a Christian decides to fast, he or she needs to be clear with himself and with God...