Sunday, July 22, 2007


I like how Tony Jones opens his chapter on fasting in "The Sacred Way":

I hate fasting.
So, seriously, I
hate it, and I avoid it at all costs. It is my least favorite of the disciplines in this book. In fact, I wish I didn't have to right about it. I wish it weren't so deeply rooted in the history of God's people Then I could ignore it.
But I can't ignore it. It's too prevalent, and, honestly, too important.

My main issue with fasting as always been my focus. Being a dieter, my mind tends to wander onto how fasting will help me to lose weight,and other physical cleansing benefits, rather than the spiritual benefits. So this time I am determined to get it right.

Some quotes from "Celebration of Discipline"

Foster notes that "the constant propaganda fed us today convinces us that if we do not have three large meals each day, with several snacks in between, we are on the verge of starvation."

Fasting is "distinct from health dieting which stresses abstinence from food for physical, not spiritual purposes." This is the one I need to beat into my brain. "Physical benefits, success in prayer, the enduing with power, spiritual insights - these must never replace God as the center of our fasting."

He notes that there are no biblical laws that command regular fasting, so that we are free to fast whenever we wish. In the sermon on the mount Jesus "seems to make the assumption that people will fast, and is giving instruction on how to do it properly." Jesus "made it clear that he expected his disciples to fast when he was gone."

Foster makes the point that Jesus gave instruction on how to properly give, pray and fast in the same passage, but the emphasis today in the church is on giving. "Perhaps in our affluent society fasting involves a far larger sacrifice than the giving of money."

Foster says that during fasting, it will be come apparent what controls us. David repeatedly humbled his soul with fasting. "Anger, bitterness, jealousy, strife, fear - if they are within us, they will surface during fasting."

"Fasting helps us keep our balance in life. How easily we begin to allow nonessentials to take precedence in our lives. How quickly we crave things we do not need until we are enslaved by them."

"In the fourth century, Asterius said that fasting ensured that the stomach would not make the body boil like a kettle to the hindering of the soul."

Some scripture about fasting:

Matthew 6:16-18 Jesus' instructions not to make a big production of fasting

Matthew 9:15 Jesus' disciples to fast once the bridegroom was taken from them

Acts 13:2-3 During fasting an praying the Holy Spirit selects Paul and Barnabas to be sent off

Luke 2:37 Anna never left the temple, serving God with fasting and prayer

Zechariah 5 The people ask God whether they should go on fasting, and he replies that they were never doing it for his sake.

Psalm 69:10, 35:13 David humbles his soul with fasting

John 4:32, 34 Jesus tells the disciples that his food is to do God's will

So I will give it another try. Of course, I can't tell you when. ;)

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