There are divers kinds of fasting -- First, A constrained fast, as when men either have not food to eat, as in the famine of Samaria (2 Kings vi.25;) or, having food, cannot eat it for heaviness or sickness, as it befel them who were in the ship with St. Paul (Acts xxvii.33.) This is rather famine than fasting.
Secondly, A natural fast, which we undertake physically, for the health of our body.
Thirdly, A civil fast, which the magistrate enjoins for the better maintenance of the commonwealth.
Fourthly, A miraculous fast, as the forty days' fast of Moses and Elias, the types, and of Christ, the substance. This is rather to be admired than imitated.
Fifthly, A daily fast, when a man is careful to use the creatures of God with such moderation, that he is not made heavier, but more cheerful to serve God, and to do the duties of his calling (1 Tim. iii.3; Tit. ii.3.) This is especially to be observed by ministers and Judges (Prov. xxxi.4, 5.)
Sixthly, A religious fast (2 Cor. vi.4, 5), which a man voluntarily undertakes to make his body and soul the fitter to pray more fervently to God upon some extraordinary occasion. And of this fast only we are to treat. The religious fast is of two sorts, either private or public.