You do not need to fast as a christian

Fast, Fasting – Eating sparingly or abstaining from food altogether, either from necessity or desire. In medical terms, fasting is the detoxification of the body throught the restriction of food.

Spiritual fasting entails setting aside activities as well as reducing the intake of food and replacing these activities with the exercise of prayer and preoccupation with spiritual concerns. The NT word that is translated “fasting” literally means one who has not eaten, one who is empty.

Three types of fast are generally recognized: normal, in which there is no intake of food for a prescribed period of time, though there may be an intake of liquids; partial, in which the diet is limited, though some food is allowed; and absolute, in which there is a total abstinence from food and liquids in all forms.

In the OT the fast was regarded as an act of self-renunciation designed to mollify God’s wrath and move him in act in gracious disposition. In times of emergency, the people fasted to persuade God to spare them from impending calamity (Jgs 20:26; 1 Sm 7:6; 1 Kgs 21:9; 2 Chr 20:3; Jer 36:6, 9). Individuals fasted in the hope that God would liberate them from trouble ( 2 Sm 12:16-20; 1 Kgs 21:27, Pss 35:13; 69:10). Fasting was accompanied by prayer (Ezr 8:21, Neh 1:4; Jer 14:12). Regular fasts were usually for ONE day, morning to evening, with food permitted at night (Jgs 20:26; 1 Sm 14:24, 2 Sm 1:12), although there are reports of longer fasts, such as Mordcai’s call for a three-day fast (night and day specified – Est 4:16) and the seven-day fast at Soul’s death (1 Sm 31:13; 2 Sm 3:35). Among special fasts were Moses’ 40 days on Mt Sinai (Ex 34:28) and Daniel’s three-weel fast prior to receiving visions (Dn 9:3; 10:3, 12).

In general, in the OT, fasting was ABUSED. Instead of a sincere act of self-renunciation and submission to God, fasting beceme externalized as an empty ritual in which a pretense of piety was presented as a public image (religeous people). Hence, the prophets cry out against the collousness of such hypocrisy. Jeremiah records the Lord as saying, “Though they fast, I will not hear their cry” (Jer 14:12, (RSV; see Is 58:1-10).

The setting for NT understanding of fasting lies in the development of the rabbinic tradition that grew out of the period between the Testaments, during which fasting became the distinguishing mark of the pious Jew, even though it was largely still ritualistic. Viws were confirmed by fasting (Tb 7:12), remorse and penitence were accompanied by fasting (4 Esd 10:4), and prayer was supported by fasting (1 Macc 3:47). Special fast days were observed, some voluntarily imposed (2 Macc 13:12; 4 Esd 5:13).

This developed into a rabbinic tradition in which fasting was viewed as meritorious and therefore became the primary act of demonstrating piety. It was, however, a false piety consisting mostlt in the externals of fastidious observance of fast days, both public and private. With the exception of ascetic groups such as the disciples of John the Baptist, the prevailing mood of fasting when Jesus appeared on the scene was one of nournful sadness, an obligatory necessity, a self-imposed requirement to produce the discipline of self-denial.

Jesus’ understanding of fasting is significant in that it represents a shift in the role of fasting. His initial attitude undoubtedly reflected the fact that he grew up participating in the regular fasts and therefore shared the prevailing teachings of his day. Yet his mature teaching about fasting breaks with the rabbinic tradition. Two accounts relating to Jesus and fasting are importnant: his fast as a part of his temptation in the wilderness (Mt 4:2; Lk 4:2), and his teaching about fasting in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 6:16-18).

His temptation was born out of the context of struggle. Immediately after his baptism, he was cast out into the wilderness by the Spirit to face the temptation of Satan. In the midst of his temptation, he fasted and prated, thereby showing his dependence upon God.

Jesus’ words about fasting ub tge Sermon on the Mount constitute a radically different approach to voluntary fasting. In condemning the type of fasting that seeks favor with men by an ostentatious display of outward piety, Jesus thought instead a robust faith that sought genuineness of relation to God through a pure heart. Jesus does not condemn fasting as such, nor does he forbid it. He does, however, give it anew meaning. Fasting is service to God.

This new understanding of fasting is set within the context fo the dawning of the time of salvation. The Bridegroom is here. It is a time of JOY, not of sorrow. Consequently, the prevailing mood of fasting as mournful stress and pretended piety is inconsistent with the mood of the new age that has begun.

Jesus’ teachings may be summarized: Fasting is transcended by the beginning of the eschatological times. The rule of the Messiah has broken the power of the evil age. Fasting would appear to be no longer consistent with the spirit of thanksgiving and joy that marks the framework of the new age, since the Christian life is not to be dominated by tragedy but by JOY and HAPPINESS

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