Monday, June 8, 2020

Topher's Fasting Resources

Thank you to those who have requested more information on the spiritual topic of fasting.  I can share my experience, my commitment, and my research. 
In the last twenty years, I've participated in several organized 24 hour fasts, a couple of 3 day fasts, and one 5 day fast.  For about a 3 year period I also fasted every Friday as well.  Ashley also participated in regular fasting with me.  When I use the word fast, I'm referring to a time period where one goes without food, only taking in water.  Of course, the word fast in today's religious culture has a much broader definition and you're welcome to use it in that way. 
I'm committing to 40 Days Fasting in 2020 between now and the end of the year.  It will begin with a 5 day period on 6/7 and then also  every Thursday in 2020 (that is my personal preference at this time.)
My five days this week that I've committed to fasting are focusing on:
  • Sunday - praying for mercy for the families of George Floyd & Derrick Chauvin.
  • Monday - prayer for safety of peaceful protestors and stoppage of violence & looting
  • Tuesday - prayer for police officers working in Minneapolis and all over the country with the protests.
  • Wednesday - Prayer for our minority groups in White County, especially Oakwood St. and Roberts St. Church of Christ.
  • Thursday - Prayer for our local city and county police as they too get affected by the backlash of national displays of unrest.
Email me, call me, message me, if you're fasting and what you're praying for.  I'll keep it confidential.  
If you would like to see the dates that I've committed to fasting, you may view it here or even subscribe to my calendar:

The best resource I can give you on fasting is one chapter from Richard J. Foster's "Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth"  This book was a required reading in my college Spiritual Formations class and the 15 page chapter on fasting is marvelously concise and easy to understand. You are welcome to borrow my copy from my office.  Here's a quote from Foster "In a culture where the landscape is dotted with shrines to the Golden Arches and an assortment of Pizza Temples, fasting seems out of place, out of step with the times... in my research I could not find a single book published on the subject of Christian fasting from 1861-1952.  More recently a renewed interest in fasting has developed, but we have fart o go to recover a biblical balance."  Here also is an Amazon link:

Here is a link to 71 different scripture relating to fasting in the Bible. It's the best list I've found so far.  

Here is a great outline on the Biblical Purposes of Fasting found on Bible.Org

1.       As a Sign of Sorrow

a.       For tragic events (Judg 20:261 Sam 31:13/1 Chr 10:122 Sam 1:12, 3:35; Esth 4:3Jer 14:1-12Joel 1:14, 2:12-15).

b.       For personal sorrow (1 Sam 1:7-8, 20:34; Job 3:24Pss 42:3, 102:4, 107:17-18).

2.       As a Sign of Repentance and Seeking Forgiveness

a.       National or corporate sins (Exod 34:28/Deut 9:9, 18, 10:10; 1 Sam 7:6Ezra 9:1- 10:17; Neh 1:4-7, 9:1; Dan 9:3-14Jonah 3:5-9Zech 8:16-19).

b.       Personal sins (2 Sam 12:16-231 Kgs 21:27-29Ps 69:10Acts 9:9?).

c.       As an opportunity for public exposure of sin (1 Kgs 21:9-12Isa 58:1-5Jer 36:6-9).

3.       As an Aid in Prayer to God

a.       For others (2 Sam 12:16-23; Neh 1:8-10; Ps 35:13Dan 6:18, 9:15-19).

b.       For self (1 Sam 1:7-11; Neh 1:11; Ps 109:21-24Dan 9:3, 10:1-3).

c.       For success in battle (Judg 20:261 Sam 7:62 Chr 20:3) and in other endeavors (Ezra 8:21-23Esth 4:16).

d.       For relief from famine (Jer 14:1-12Joel 1:14, 2:12-15).

e.       As a means of personal or group devotion (Matt 6:16-18Luke 2:37Acts 10:30, 13:2-3; 1 Cor 7:5).

4.       As a Part of Experiencing God’s Presence

a.       Supernatural sustaining by God (Exod 34:28/Deut 9:9, 18, 10:10; 1 Kgs 19:8).

b.       Reliance on God in times of temptation or spiritual warfare (Matt 4:2/Luke 4:2Matt 17:21/Mark 9:29).

c.       Reflecting the reality of the absence of Christ’s immediate presence with his followers (Matt 9:14-15/Mark 2:18-20/Luke 5:33-35).

d.       Going without food to remain longer under Jesus’ teaching (Matt 15:32/Mark 8:3).

5.       As an Act of Ceremonial Public Worship (Neh 9:1; Esth 9:31Isa 58:3Jer 36:6-9Zech 7:3-5, 8:19; Acts 27:9).

6.       As Related to Ministry

a.       Preparation for significant ministry (Matt 4:2/Luke 4:2Acts 9:9, 13:2-3, 14:23).

b.       Specific command of God while prophesying (1 Kgs 13:1-22).

c.       Suffering for the sake of the gospel (2 Cor 6:5/11:27).

After of the New Testament, we also find early church leaders writing about fasting
  • Clement of Rome shared these thoughts to the Corinthian Church in about 96AD " Almsgiving is therefore good even as penitence for sin; fasting is better than prayer, but the giving of alms is better than both; and love “covers a multitude of sins,” but prayer from a good conscience rescues from death. Blessed is every man who is found full of these things; for almsgiving lightens sin. "
  • Polycarp of Smyrna wrote the folliwng words to the Philippian Church in about 108AD "… let us turn back to the word which was delivered to us in the beginning, “watching unto prayer” and persevering in fasting, beseeching the all-seeing God in our supplications “to lead us not into temptation,” even as the Lord said, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
  • The Didache (Writing of the Twelve) that originated in the first centrury while John was still alive references fasting three times: for enemies, before baptism, and on different days than the Jews.  Here is one reference: Now, the teaching of these words is this: “Bless those that curse you, and pray for your enemies, and fast for those that persecute you. For what credit is it to you if you love those that love you? Do not even the heathen do the same?” But, for your part, “love those that hate you,” and you will have no enemy.

Thank you for reading so far.  I hope you are blessed by the "Thank You" and the sharing on fasting here.  If you'd like to chat about it, please, give me a call.  In the end, I hope God blesses you and I with a more peaceful 2020 from here on out.  

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