The Normal Fast.
This involved abstaining from all food, solid or liquid, but not from water. In the forty-day fast of Jesus, we are told that “He ate nothing” and toward the end of the fast that “He was hungry” and that Satan tempted Him to eat, indication that the abstaining was from food, but not from water (Luke 4:2).
The Partial Fast.
The Bible describes what could be considered a partial fast: that is, there is a restriction of diet, but not total abstention. Although the normal fast seemed to be the custom with the prophet Daniel, there was an occasion where for three weeks he “ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all” (Daniel 10:3).
The Absolute Fast.
There are several examples in Scripture of what has rightly been called an “absolute fast,” or an abstaining from both food and water. It usually appears as a desperate measure to meet a dire emergency. Upon learning that execution awaited herself and her people, Esther instructed Mordecai, “Go, gather all the Jews… and hold a fast on my behalf, and neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will also fast as you do” (Esther 4:16). Paul engaged in a three-day absolute fast following his encounter with the living Christ (Acts 9:9). It must be underscored that the absolute fast is the exception and should never be engaged in unless one has a very clear command from God, and then for not more than three days.