No illustrations yet.
In Scripture we see several purposes for fasting. It's part of the discipline of
self-control; it's a way of sharing that we depend on God alone and draw all our strength
and resources from him; it's a way of focusing totally on him when seeking his guidance
and help, and of showing that you really are in earnest in your quest; it's also, at
times, an expression of sorrow and deep repentance, something that a person or community
will do in order to acknowledge failure before God and seek his mercy.
We tend to think of fasting as going without food. But we can fast from anything. If we
love music and decide to miss a concert in order to spend time with God, that is fasting.
It is helpful to think of the parallel of human friendship. When friends need to be
together, they will cancel all other activities in order to make that possible. There's
nothing magical about fasting. It's just one way of telling God that your priority at that
moment is to be alone with him, sorting out whatever is necessary, and you have cancelled
the meal, party, concert, or whatever else you had planned to do in order to fulfill that
James Packer, Your Father Loves You, Harold Shaw
Publishers, 1986, p. 14.
In general we must hold that whenever any religious controversy arises, which either a
council or ecclesiastical tribunal behooves to decide; whenever a minister is to be chosen;
whenever, in short any matter of difficulty and great importance is under consideration:
on the other hand, when manifestations of the divine anger appear, as
pestilence, war, and
famine, the sacred and salutary custom of all ages has been for pastors to exhort the
people to public fasting and extraordinary prayer.
Calvin, Institutes, IV, 12, 14.