You can fast from anything, but in this article I’m referring to a traditional biblical fast where you don’t eat food for a period of time so you can spend more time praying and focusing on God.
Before talking about why a Christian single might want to fast for a spouse, I think it’s important to first talk about some reasons Christian singles should not fast for a spouse.
You should not use fasting to barrage God with prayer requests and to demand him to give you what you want. It should not be used like a hunger strike. I’ve heard fasting referred to as a “spiritual bomb” by some unbiblical leaders, meaning that if you fast God will explode blessings on you. They make it seem like if you fast for the job you want, if you fast for the people to come to your church, or if you fast for a relationship, God is more likely to bless you because you are suffering for him.
This is very unbiblical for a variety of reasons. A fast is not an opportunity to store up spiritual points in heaven. This mentality is rooted in a works theology. A fast is not an opportunity to torture yourself in hopes that God will bless you in return. In the Bible we are not called to suffer in return for God’s blessings like spiritual mercenaries. Anything good in life comes from God’s grace. We are to serve and suffer for Christ because God has already given us his grace, not so we can earn God’s grace.
So you should not fast for a Christian spouse as a way of trying to manipulate God to do what you want. Rather, fasting should be a time where you focus more on God so you can gain more clarity about what he wants you to do. God doesn’t need his arm twisted to bless you. God has a plan to give you good before you even ask him (Matthew 6:8). Fasting has many benefits, but using it to bang on the doors God has shut is not biblical.
With that said, here are 4 healthy reasons God may want you to fast and pray for a Christian spouse.
1. If You Are in a Spiritual Rut When It Comes to Relationships, This Is a Good Sign God May Be Leading You to Fast and Pray for a Spouse
When Christians talk about fasting, many times they get hung up on what type of fast to do. Some people feel like the Daniel Fast is really great. Some people feel like you can drink calories but a total fast from all solid food is the key. Some people will only drink water. While others will refuse to take anything at all into the body including water.
None of that matters. God doesn’t care what type of fast you do. What he really cares about is how you are using this fast in your heart. The purpose and motive for why you are fasting is what will truly benefit you. Note the warning Paul gives us in Colossians 2:20-23. It states:
If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— ‘Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch’ (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.”
Rather than focusing on what you should be avoiding during a fast, God wants you to focus more on what you should be pursuing. Fasting from food can be beneficial for your spiritual wellbeing, including in the area of relationships, because when you don’t eat food you are also supposed to be using that time to pray and refocus on Christ. Right after the warning Paul gives in Colossians 2:20-23, Colossians 3:1-3 then states:
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
If you feel like you are in a spiritual rut when it comes to relationships, meaning that you feel confused, lost, passive, defeated, and lacking spiritual wisdom on how to pursue the good blessing of a godly marriage, a fast may help you because it can be used to “set your mind on the things that are above.”
2. If You Know Your Past Sins Have Delayed God’s Blessing on Your Relationships, This Is a Good Sign God May Be Leading You to Fast and Pray for a Spouse
Another biblical use of fasting is to repent of sins. Again, the act of not eating is not what will help you. God doesn’t forgive you and bless you because you are suffering and paying for your own sins by not eating. Rather, when you fast from food and spend extra time and energy refocusing your heart on God, this will help you be filled with the Spirit so you can rightly repent, turning from the evil you have done and turning towards the good God wants you to do.
Perhaps you know you have fallen for non-believers in the past, wasting years tricking yourself that you could change this person into a godly spouse one day. Perhaps you know that you are weak when you like someone and always get used sexually, which causes you to feel unworthy of a godly relationship. Or perhaps you know you lose control of your emotions and thus ruin good relationship opportunities because of your behavior and lack of self-control. If you know there is a sin pattern contributing to your unwanted singleness, repent and work on changing this negative trend in your relationships.
Notice the type of fasting God desires from his people in Isaiah 58:3-9. In verse 3 the people complain to God and say, “Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?” God responds by saying:
Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers. Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the Lord? Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’”
The point being made here is that fasting alone is worthless. Fasting from food is only useful when it is used to spiritually empower people to make godly choices that honor the Lord.
If you know there is a sin pattern in your life that is negatively affecting you having a godly relationship that brings glory to God, fasting could really help you prepare to meet the godly spouse the Lord has for you if you use that fast to repent of sin and turn to the Lord.
3. If You Lack Spiritual Clarity About Your Relationship Future, This Is a Good Sign God Is Telling You to Fast and Pray for a Spouse
One major use of fasting throughout the Scriptures is to gain clarity on God’s will. This can be especially helpful when it comes to trying to meet, date, and marry the person God has for you. From my experience, most Christians singles struggle with meeting the one not because they are unwilling to do what God wants but rather because they struggle to know what it is that God actually does want them to do.
They get confused on the approach God wants them to take to meet the one he has for them. Are you being too passive or are you being too proactive? Are you trying online dating too much or not enough? Are you cutting people off who are showing yellow flags too fast or not fast enough? Are you ignoring red flags or are you being hyper sensitive and fearful?
Only God can answer these questions for you. So if you feel confused and lack spiritual clarity about what God wants you to do, fasting and praying can really help you. When Judah was under attack, they did not know what to do. In 2 Chronicles 20:3-4 it states, “Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. And Judah assembled to seek help from the Lord; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.” And then in 2 Chronicles 20:14-17, God then gave them a detailed plan telling them exactly what he wanted them to do.
If you need a plan from God on what he wants you to do to meet the one he has for you so you can glorify the Lord in marriage one day, fasting and praying can really help you.
4. If You Feel Like You Are at the End of Your Rope Because You Have Tried Everything to Meet Someone, This Could Be a Sign God Is Telling You to Fast and Pray for a Spouse
Another trend you see in Scripture when it comes to fasting is that it is used when there is a great need for God’s deliverance.
God wants us to be wise and to take ownership of the parts of our lives that he wants us to manage well. So in relationships, God certainly doesn’t want you to just fast and pray and then sit at home alone doing nothing, just hoping your future spouse arrives at your doorstep one day. But eventually you will have done everything you can do in your own power. You will have taken all the wise steps you can take. When there is nothing left for you to do in your human strength to accomplish what you feel called to do, this means you must fully throw yourself on the mercies of God. As Ezra 8:21-23 states:
Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods. For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, ‘The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him.’ So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty.”