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A Time to Fast

“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. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that 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.” Matthew 6:16-18

“Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, ‘Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.” Matthew 9:14-15

When we studied the book of Matthew in Sunday School, I recommended a little booklet by URC Pastor Daniel R. Hyde, “Why Should I fast?”

Hyde in his booklet gives a simple definition, ‘Fasting is the opposite of feasting.’ Fasting is something that the church has done for millennia, but it is more and more uncommon today.

Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920) lamented the loss of fasting in his day, “Today there are still some found among the godly who fast. But very few. The practice has gradually died out. We no longer have congregational fasting. We have become estranged from fasting, and we do not count it among the means of edification.”

I have fasted off and on in my adult life. At times with more regularity but most of the time not very often. For awhile I have desired to try and reinstitute that practice into my life. To make a regular practice of fasting. Yesterday morning on my run I was listening to a news program and it talked of a governor who was calling on the people of his State to fast for three days. It was a call to fast from eating lunch on July 20-22. Fasting and prayer have been a part of Christianity but also a part of our nation’s history as well.

There is also a section on fasting in our directory for public worship. The first paragraph states, “When great and notable calamities come upon or threaten the church, community, or nation, when judgment is deserved because of sin, when the people seek some special blessing from the Lord, or when a pastor is to be ordained or installed (Form of Government, Chapter XXIII, Section 7), it is fitting that the people of God engage in times of solemn prayer and fasting.”

I encourage you to look more into the topic of fasting and prayer and to consider making it a regular part of your life. I have most often done 24-hour fasts. For example, from 6pm to 6pm. Skipping breakfast and lunch in order to spend more time in prayer. Some people may not be able to do that health wise. But taking the time when we would normally eat and setting it aside to focus our attention on prayer, especially in times like these, is a great benefit. Let us focus our prayers to God asking and pleading for His intervention regarding this virus and/or many other needs that we may have in the body of Christ.

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