Our Lenten journey

FASTING

Hello Friends, we have entered and are progressing towards THE PASSION OF CHRIST and his RESURRECTION. This is a period which has to be given importance. I got a Chance to read a book on FASTING written by DAVID R SMITH, and thought of sharing few important things of Fasting.

Fasting is a neglected Discipline in Christian Spirituality. We often tend to follow the materialistc aspect. If we go through the present life style we can see that Evangelism, mission, Intercession, Fasting and Prayer are the key aspects of Christian life being Neglected.

(A DISCIPLINE WHERE WE FAIL)

It is quite common for Christians to think of fasting in terms of Self Denial which is wholly spiritual and not to consider it as been connected in any way to human body. Considering the extent to which we read our Bibles, we ca see that the lack of understanding and experience is strange, for the holy Scriptures are full of references to this context. Not only did the Saints of Old Testament fast regularly, but also the Apostles and Our Lord Christ himself adopted this form of personal Denial.

WHAT IS FASTING?

Every Christian has a sense of responsibility towards others and himself, as well as towards his Lord. Our lord made this perfectly clear in the Sermon on the mount, when he referred to three aspects of Christian behaviour (Matthew 6:1-18)

1) ALMSGIVING is one example of a duty which every believer has to do for others.

2) PRAYER is an example of the Duty he has towards GOD.

3) FASTING is an example of one duty which a person has for himself.

Jesus said “When you fast, Be not As the Hypocrites of A Sad Countenance; For They Disfigure their faces that may Appear Men To Fast “

We all need to have a Systematic way of doing things which will help us to have a great Foundation in whatever we do. So when we decide to take Fasting we need to follow few Aspects which has

helped me a lot to grow during the Lenten period.

THE PURPOSE

Almost everything we do is either a sudden reaction to something which has happened to us, or else a perceived action which we have thought over beforehand. Fasting is not something we should hurry into. It is not a duty which we can decide about after a moment’s hesitation. It is a practise which will demand some forethought. Few of the purposes for the Lenten period are :

1) Averting God’s Wrath. ( Judges 20:24-28, 1 Samuel 7:5-6, Joel 1:13-14, Psalms 35:13)

2) Seeking God’s Pardon (1 Kings 21:27-29, Matthew 3:4, 5:4, Luke 236:37, Romans 13:14)

3) Keeping The Balance.

4) Desire For Special Mercy (2 Samuel 12:15-23, Ezra 8: 21-23, Esther 4:1-17)

THE BENEFITS

When speaking of fasting for the Christians, Jesus said that if we did this after the biblical pattern and in Accordance with His advice and not like religious hypocrites, we should receive something. The fathers Recompense has an Eternal Value. Few of the Benefits are:

1) Liberty Of Spirit

2) Receiving guidance ( Acts 13:1-3)

3) Growth in Grace ( 1 Kings 20:31, Daniel 9:3, Esther 4:1-4, Exodus 33:5, Isaiah 58:1-14)

4) Increase in faith.

5) Power over Evil ( Matthew 17:19, Mark 9:28, Luke 9:40, Luke 10:19 )

THE DANGERS

We have seen the fasting serves more than one obvious purpose and also the religious people have taken up the discipline of fasting for more than one reason. For the lord to declare that someone’s fast was for Strife and Contention (Isaiah 58:4) may appear unbelievable to those who are neither acquainted with Discipline itself. Few of the Dangers are :

1) Ritualism ( Matthew9:14, mark 2:18-20, Luke 5:33 )

2) Asceticism ( Mark 8:34)

3) False fasts ( Acts 23:12 and 21)

4) Hypocrisy ( Luke 18:12, Matthew 9:14, Jeremiah 14:10-12, 1 Kings 21:9-14 )

5) Selfishness and Extremism ( 2 Samuel 12:1523, Matthew 6:16-18,Jonah 3:7-8)

Few Questions Asked :

1) Is Fasting a Duty ?

Jews were commanded to fast in OT times after they experienced new birth. Fasting is a Duty a Christian performs. A command is an order, whilst a Duty is an expression of respect. Christians do not fast simply because they have been told so, but because it is one natural outcome of their Discipleship – they fast for the same reason that they pray.( Matthew 6:1-18)

2) Is it more important to fast from Sin, than from Food ?

The objection is expected to produce either a Silence or a denial from people who uphold fasting as a discipline for Christians today. Those who raise this point are surprised to discover that the mature contender for correct fasting is in full Agreement with the objection. God does require us to fast from sin, as we clearly see in Isaiah 58:1-14. If God has chosen any fast at all, it is certain that we should cease sinning.

3) I have tried it a few times and saw no difference in myself or my prayer life ?

This type of question is a crucial one, it is obvious that the person concerned with this question has not approached the aspect in correct way. People tend to believe that we would see visions, hear the voice of God, will be a changed person. These things are true and to achieve these things it takes Time and Patience. One should not be discouraged about not getting the results. We should fast unceasingly without expecting anything. We being His children he will definitely not forsake us.

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