‘When you fast’ (Matthew 6:17)
’The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days’ (Luke 5:35)
Ahead of the RP Church of Scotland’s call for a solemn fast on Saturday, Rev Stephen Steele (Pastor of Stranraer RP Church) has compiled the following list of simple resources on the topic fasting, which will prove helpful if the concept is a new one to you.
The sermon below was preached in Cloughmills RPC by Joel Loughridge and is a very helpful summary of the topic.
- “Fasting” by Rev Joel Loughridge (length 32:41mins) Download
More Sermon Resources can be found on the ReformedVoice website.
While the Bible only applies ‘fasting’ to food, the video is a helpful reminder that fasting isn’t an end in itself and one of the main reasons for it is to help us focus on God. Murray’s approach is shared by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who says, ‘Fasting should really be made to include abstinence from anything which is legitimate in and of itself for the sake of some special spiritual purpose’.
‘Sharpen your Affections with Fasting’ in David Mathis, Habits of Grace (available free here)
‘Fasting for the Purpose of Godliness’ in Don Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life
In light of the Coronavirus outbreak, David Gibson encouraged everyone in his congregation to buy and read A Hunger for God by John Piper, commenting ‘It offers the exact opposite advice of everyone else around us, even as we take every sensible health precaution.’ It is available for free here. It also has a useful appendix of quotes on fasting from throughout church history.
Gentle Reformation blog posts
‘Perhaps we have not seriously enough considered seasons of sincere fasting and prayer among God’s people – days of affliction of the body for the sharpening of the soul. In Scripture we see God’s people fasted for two primary reasons. First, they fasted and prayed when facing an insurmountable enemy or daunting task (e.g. 2 Chronicles 20:3ff, Ezra 8:21ff, Esther 4:15ff, Joel 2:12ff, Acts 13:2-3). Second, they fasted and prayed in brokenness over their sin and seek God’s forgiveness (e.g. Leviticus 16:30ff, 1 Samuel 7:5, Ezra 9:4ff, Nehemiah 1:3ff, Daniel 9:3ff, Jonah 3:5). Usually, the two purposes were intertwined.
Fasting is hard. It teaches us in the body that we are weak and sinful. It humbles us. It reminds us that we lack the strength and ability to effect any good or positive change in and of ourselves. The Lord gives this physical expression to accompany and intensify prayer as we are reminded that we are weak and that our enemies are far greater than we can overcome on our own.
Personal, secret fasts are appropriate, but the Lord also approves of public fasts, which are prominent in Scripture and are reflected in historic church documents like the Westminster Confession of Faith chapter 21’