Fasting In The New Testament

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A Common Discipline

The discipline of fasting is a practice that is commonly misunderstood. The connotations that surround this spiritual discipline leave many people to view fasting in one of two extremes: something that is hazardous to one’s health, or something for those in a seemingly unreachable spiritual state. However, the reality is neither of these. To quote John Wesley, “Some have exalted fasting beyond all Scripture and reason; and others have utterly disregarded it.” A true Biblical view of fasting lies somewhere in the middle of Wesley’s two points. There is no denying the power in fasting. There are many examples throughout scripture where fasting was a direct precedent to miracles. However,
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Abstain from food but not water. When Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness, he was said to be hungry, but not thirsty (Luke 4:2 HCSB). There is only one reference to an absolute fast involving Paul; however, this was definitely not the norm and only happened under the specific leading of the Holy Spirit. The main difference in the fast observed in the New Testament was whether they were private or corporate. While neither were necessarily better than the other, they served different purposes. According to Christ’s instructions in Matthew 6, the private was to be kept exactly as the name implies – private. Believers were not to boast of their fast, because their, “father who sees in secret,” will reward them. The private fast is a time for personal reflection on God, and a time where one can replace a meal with the bread of life. The Father wishes to know His children intimately, and private fasting was and can be used to achieve …show more content…
Fasting was not something for just the Apostles or the writers of the New Testament. Fasting was a simple, hidden essential in the lives of those who walked in tune with the Spirit. In this section, a few scriptural examples will be given of those for whom fasting was vital. Keep in mind this list is in no way exclusive.
Chronologically, the first mention of fasting in the New Testament occurs in Luke 2. The scripture speaks of Anna the prophetess, an elderly woman whose is said to have, “stayed in the temple complex, serving God night and day with fastings and prayers,” (Luke 2:37 HCSB). Fasting was more than just a discipline to this prophetess; fasting had become an essential, defining part of her service to the Father. Following Anna, another example in the New Testament is the Apostle Paul. Paul is said to have engaged in fasting often. Paul fasted after his encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus. He fasted when making important decisions. Paul had integrated fasting into his faith in such a way that it was equal to prayer and praise. It wasn’t glorified or made out to be the highlight of his walk. Rather, unless one reads carefully, he or she might miss Paul’s mention of the subject

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