Summary: Spiritual discipline of fasting
An Adult Christian Education Class of RCEFC
Based on Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster
Fasting – fallen into disrepute
Out to step with the times – Fast foods
Disregard for fasting: “…I could not find a single book published on the subject of Christian fasting from 1861-1954…”
Bad reputation –excess from Middle Ages
Propaganda – 3 meals plus snacks
Hunger strike – power
Dieting – health
Superficiality – Other religions do it e.g. Month of Ramadan
Food becomes an obssession
18For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ,
19whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. – Philippians 3:18-19 (NASB)
What fills us up?
18 The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God’s word, 19 but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced. – Mk.4:18-19 (NLT)
Many great godly people fasted
Moses, David, Elijah, Esther, Daniel.
Anna, Paul, Jesus Christ.
Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox
John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, David Brainerd, Charles Finney.
Fasting in the Bible
“Biblical fasting always centers on spiritual purposes”
Normal – abstain from food but not water
Luke 4:2 “where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.”
Restriction of diet but not total abstention.
“I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.” – Daniel 10:3
"Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish." - Esther 4:16
“For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.” – Acts 9:9
Moses - “I stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights; I ate no bread and drank no water.” (Deut.9:9)
Do not try this!
God said to Moses: "The tenth day of the seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly, fast, and offer a Fire-Gift to God. Don’t work on that day because it is a day of atonement to make atonement for you before your God. Anyone who doesn’t fast on that day must be cut off from his people. - Lev.23:26-27 (Message)
15 Blow the ram’s horn in Jerusalem! Announce a time of fasting; call the people together for a solemn meeting. 16 Gather all the people— the elders, the children, and even the babies. Call the bridegroom from his quarters and the bride from her private room. 17 Let the priests, who minister in the Lord’s presence, stand and weep between the entry room to the Temple and the altar. Let them pray, “Spare your people, Lord! - Joel 2:15-17 (NLT)
After this, the armies of the Moabites, Ammonites, and some of the Meunites declared war on Jehoshaphat … Jehoshaphat was terrified by this news and begged the Lord for guidance. He also ordered everyone in Judah to begin fasting. – 2 Chronicles 20:1-3 (NLT)
Regular Fasting Practices
Zech 8:19 -This is what the LORD Almighty says: "The fasts of the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth months will become joyful and glad occasions and happy festivals for Judah. Therefore love truth and peace."
Luke 18:12 – Pharisee boasted “I fast twice a week and give…”
Other regular fasts
The Didache – “But do not let your fasts be with the hypocrites. For they fast on the second day of the week and on the fifth. But you fast on the fourth day (Wed) and the day of preparation (Fri).”
John Wesley revived this practice. He refused to ordain anyone who refuses this.
Any Command to Fast?
“There simply are no biblical laws that command regular fasting.” – Foster (p.51)
Paul – “In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often…” – 2 Cor.11:27 (KJV)
Any Command to Fast?
While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. - Acts 13:2-3 (ESV)
Any Command to Fast?
16"And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. - Jesus in Matthew 6:16-18 (ESV)