Saturday, February 03, 2007

When You Fast?

Matthew 6:16:When you fast do not look somber..." Jesus sermon on the mount he says, When you fast, not if, but when does that mean that we as ministers should preach to our congregations on fasting? Jesus fast 40 days before being tempted so why don't we hear more teaching and preaching about fasting? Does it have to do with American culture? Should Christians practice fasting? What benifits are there to fasting and prayer? Have you seen any in your life? Ministry? Church? Share them if you like.

What do you think?
Share your thoughts.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think we do not fast for a few reasons:
[1] We do not want to make a connection between our daily physical life and our eternal spiritual life.
[2] We misunderstand the affect of fasting.
[3] We are too materialistic and equate being satiated with being blessed.
[4] It seems too "Catholic".
[5] We see fasting as a false suffering for the cause of Christ.

[1] Even many who do fast misinterpret the act itself as a conduit to God or a "cleansing of impurities".


11:24 PM  
Blogger Stoned-Campbell Disciple said...

I agree with Don for the most part. There seems to me to be little ground biblically to dismiss the practice. The early church believed that Jesus expected us to do it.

Bobby Valentine

11:48 PM  
Blogger Tim Archer said...

Any church that seriously wants to restore the early church must teach and practice fasting. I think any study of the book of Acts shows that.

Thanks for bringing up this important topic.

Grace and peace,

8:20 AM  
Blogger Alan said...

Jesus clearly taught that after he left this world, his followers would fast:

Mat 9:15 Jesus answered, "How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.

Isaiah 58 has some good insight into the kind of fasting that pleases God, and the kind that does not.

8:39 AM  
Blogger Laymond said...

PM- I see fasting as a similar action as the "Nazirite Vow" fasting is denying self, not only eating meat. in the example given by another reader/commenter.
Mt:9:14: Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?
15: And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.

What I take away from this is you need a reason to fast. not that you fast at the drop of a hat.
If a woman's husband (who she loves)
dies does not that woman mourn, and fast. but to fast just to show others you are religious, is just what Christ warned about.

12:24 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

To me it seems more expected than just recommended in scripture. I think it is really important in any BIG decision as you seek God's guidance.

4:21 PM  
Blogger Trey Morgan said...

Laymond said, "What I take away from this is you need a reason to fast."

I agree.

I have a friend that has skipped every Wednesday noon meal for years to pray for his children. Maybe it's just "luck" but he has great Christian kids. :)

9:20 AM  
Blogger Laymond said...

Trey- I don't believe "luck" plays a big part in our Christian life.
and I know you don't either.
God Bless

9:52 AM  
Blogger Royce Ogle said...

Perhaps more Christians fast than we think, after all it is to be something that we keep to ourselves and God.

Fasting,(denying self),helps to clear the human mind of everything but God and His purposes. Fasting has nothing to do with sin or else Jesus would not have fasted.

Don made some good points. I will add this: Most Christians do not pray so why would anyone expect them to fast?

Grace and Peace,
Royce Ogle

10:14 AM  
Blogger Josh said...

I think Christians should fast, however I do not. How hypocritical is that, huh?

Funny story. I preached at a country church once, and after the sermon, they threw me this huge dinner. I brought a friend along who didn't eat a thing. He just told me he didn't feel good.

I was scarfing food down right & left in front of him. Later on the drive back home, he told me he was fasting and didn't want to say anything. I felt so bad. I was like, "Dude! You should've told me!"

12:58 PM  
Blogger Josh said...

I think Christians should fast, however I do not. How hypocritical is that, huh?

Funny story. I preached at a country church once, and after the sermon, they threw me this huge dinner. I brought a friend along who didn't eat a thing. He just told me he didn't feel good.

I was scarfing food down right & left in front of him. Later on the drive back home, he told me he was fasting and didn't want to say anything. I felt so bad. I was like, "Dude! You should've told me!"

12:58 PM  
Blogger Ben Overby said...

I have quite a bit of "hands on experience" with fasting, both in teaching and practice. Just a couple of things I'd say. 1) Don't turn it into a legalism. Fasting was made for man not man for fasting. Fasting can become feasting with the right prep and prayers, but any grace will be sucked out as soon as it becomes a legalism which you "have" to do in order to make God love you more. 2) Don't absolutize the practice. Just because you happen to be fasting once a week, or just because your in the midst of an extended fast, that does't mean everyone else has to do the same thing in order to be as spiritual. In fact, fasting doesn't make you more spiritual--grace does. Fasting is only a means to grace as you open yourself to receive more of God. 3) One last thing. Fasting is great for developing discipline and all the rest, but it's perhaps most meaningful when practiced to get God's attention or to "wait" on God. When we're in need, when we're looking for direction, we don't always need to call a business meeting. Sometimes we need to call a fast. I think it's part of the Celtic tradition that if you loaned someone a coat or some money and that person refused to pay it back, then you would go and sit at his door step and fast until he responded. Hunger strikes get attention. Though not completely parallel, I hope we get the picture. Fasting adds intensity to our prayers.

Hope this helps. Ben

12:31 PM  
Blogger Trey Morgan said...

Lamond ... I'd spell "luck" ... "G-O-D"

12:52 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Do you think ministers should preach on it more and Christians practice it? How would it be a blessing at in your ministry and Church?

3:53 PM  
Blogger Josh said...

I'm reminded of the passage Mark 9:28-30 in which some manuscripts say "prayer & fasting".

1:40 PM  
Blogger Brian Nicklaus said...

John Piper's book "Hunger for God" is a great resource, he covers it well and points out lots of great stuff,

like a connection between fasting and social action--Is 58

very comprehensive, he makes the warnings about it being abused

11:05 AM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Great point Josh.
Prayer and fasting usually how it is done and should be done. It is a sacrifice offered to God or used to draw Gods attention to a need, etc.

12:55 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Is it that Americans are too focused on food to fast? We live in a buffet society that doesn't understand what it means or would want to give up the food they love so much.

1:00 PM  
Blogger Benjamin Potter said...

Perhaps we're so caught up in Fast Food (which is really slow) that we don't understand a food fast. I'm pretty much in agreement with Ben Overby--fasting is an opportunity to remove focus from myself and readjust it to God, building my relationship with Him.

2:59 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Hope you don't mind a non-preacher butting into the dialogue. I had avoided commenting before because I don't have much knowledge on the subject. And that's why I don't fast: because I don't know much about it, I haven't studied about it personally, I haven't heard many sermons or classes on it, I don't know of anyone other than my Dad who's done it. Though my Dad will tell you he's done it, he doesn't make a big deal about it (which you've all reminded me you shouldn't), so I just haven't talked with him about it much. If I were to be perfectly honest, fasting is not something I'd look forward to doing, so I've avoided thinking about it or studying about it. I like food a lot. That's just an excuse, I know. I'll tell you, though, after this post & the subsequent dialogue, I am looking forward to studying more about fasting.

Royce said, "Most Christians do not pray so why would anyone expect them to fast?" I will admit that my prayer life was lacking in many ways a few years ago. As my prayer life has gotten better, though, I hope maybe fasting will be the next step.

Were you at the Freed lectures this past week, by the way Preacherman? How has your recovery been lately?

11:47 PM  
Blogger Laymond said...

PM before we start to preach on fasting, maybe we should learn just what it is, I for one have been personaly commanded to fast many times and have done as I was commanded an could see the very results I was looking for. I have had bypass surgery and have to have my blood checked for cholestrol evey three months to see if the medicine is working. The doctor tells me to "fast" for 12 hrs before the test. Don't eat anything, not even water, in order to get a true check of the contents of my blood. that is the physical fasting I do, the doctor tells me the amount of time to spend fasting. but before we start commanding Christians to fast we need to know why and how long. one thing we do know it has nothing to do with sin, Jesus fasted for forty days, does that mean he had nothing to eat or drink for forty days. I don't recomment that to anyone. you will not recover. Until we know why and for how long be careful what we do.

11:25 AM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Thank you so much for your comments. I am glad this challenges you to think about studing more on the subject and practice. It will definatley draw you closer to God. I didn't get to go to Freed lectures this year wish I could have. I am getting stronger and stronger. God is answering prayers. I have good days and bad days. I have been preaching from my wheelchair on Sundays when I can others helping too. I go to physical therapy three days a week. I want to thank everyone for their continued prayers. It is going to be a long journey. Your comments are always welcome.

7:42 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

I appreciate you adding to the discussion.
I would never recommend giving up water for a long time; if at all. King David fasted when his son was sick to draw God's attention to the problem that perhaps God might have mercy and save his son.
Jesus does tell us in the sermon on the mount, "when you fast"... 1st Century Christians practiced fasting as Jesus says "when the bridggroom is gone then my disciples will fast." If we fast today it is to done with the right reasons, heart, motive, intentions.
I see it is a spiritual discipline.

7:58 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I didn't realize you were still in a wheelchair. I suppose you're not up to traveling just yet. The reason I asked is that my grandmother was there and had used a computer in the library where the previous user, "Preacherman," had failed to log out. She asked me if I knew if the Preacherman I have on my blogroll was at the lectures. I'm glad that your congregation has been so supportive & helpful. We continue to keep you in our prayers here in Virginia. God bless.

1:43 AM  
Blogger Larry said...

The few references I have heard in the pulpit concerning fasting usually glosses over its importance, and tosses the practice into the category of foot washing and the holy kiss.

Fasting practiced purposely coupled with prayer, and guided by the right motives is beneficial, but without purpose it reminds me of those who mutilate their flesh thinking God is pleased with their antics.

9:43 AM  
Blogger preacherman said...

I hope that this disciple will be practiced, followed, taught, in churches more and more. It will be a blessing and help those become closer and more in tune with God's will.

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