[Papercut Press Publishing]1999-03-23 - F2: A Holy Fast

The Holy Alphabet Series

Psalm 35:13 But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth; I humbled my soul with fasting.

"An Holy Fast, is a religious abstinence from all the labors of our calling, and comforts of this life, so far as comliness and necessity will permit that we might be more seriously humble before God, and more fervent in prayer, Ecle. 4:16, Levit. 23:27, Dan 9:9, 11." --Robert Port

Fasting is a lost practice. I rarely hear anything about it. To fast from food is to abstain from eating food for a meal, a day, or for longer periods. But what Port has in mind in the above quote is a little different. Port seems to be talking about, what he calls, a holy fast. That is, a complete abstinence from work and all comforts, as far as we are able.

This might be a little much for those who are out of practice with fasting. Such a holy fast might be something to shoot for, but is probably not the place to start when thinking about fasting.

Fasting has been a way for Christians to show humiliation, sorrow, and distress for their sinful ways. In colonial New England it was not uncommon for public days of fasting to be called for by elected officials. These were days when the people were admonished to think about their sinful ways and to pray for grace and renewed strength to serve God faithfully again.

There is a psychological and physiological effect that takes place in fasting from food that stems from the relation of the soul and body. The act of self-denial, even the denial of those things natural and proper, has the effect of subduing the flesh and our lusts. In fasting we seek to subdue our desire for food and we turn the focus upon God. Doing this, our walk and relations with Him, our minds and thoughts, are sharpened to concentrate upon holy things as we block out other distractions.

Some Principals

  1. Fasting must be sincere. It was the hypocritical fasting of the Pharisees that Christ condemned. (Matt. 6:16-18)
  2. Fasting is a means toward seeking God it is not an end in itself. If you simply avoid food, you are not fasting in a spiritual sense, you are not eating. A spiritual fast has the end in view of seeking the Lord.
  3. The practice of fasting must be left free. It is neither your place, nor the place of anyone else to require a fast. Fasting is personal. It is between you and the God. Even if your entire church joins together in a day of fasting, it can be required of no one. Fasting is a private act. This is one reason why many who fast regularly make it the practice to avoid telling people that they are engaged in a fast.

Soli Deo Gloria,