Friday, January 06, 2006

1/6/06, Resources For The Day Of Prayer And Fasting (January 21, 2006)

From: Greg Price
To: Greg Price
Cc: List
Sent: Friday, January 06, 2006 9:59 AM
Subject: Resources For The Day Of Prayer And Fasting

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In the announcement sent by the Session (dated January
1, 2006,) it was stated that there would be a
follow-up announcement supplying resources to read in
preparation for the Day of Prayer and Fasting. It
should be noted that the Fast on Saturday, January 21,
2006 will stretch from midnight to midnight.

The following resources may be used for your
instruction as individuals, families, and societies.

1. _The Directory for the Public Worship of God_,
"Concerning Publick Solemn Fasting."

2. "A Solemn Acknowledgment Of Publick Sins And
Breaches Of The Covenant And A Solemn Engagement To
All The Duties Contained Therein."

3. _The Duty, The Benefits, and the Proper Methods of
Religious Fasting_ by Samuel Miller.

4. "A Short Catechism On Religious Fasting" by Greg L.
Price (This is brief and found below. It responds to
more practical questions as well).

On behalf of the Session,

Greg L. Price


A Short Catechism On Religious Fasting - Greg L. Price

I. Question: What is religious fasting?
Answer: Religious fasting is denying the natural
appetite for food from a true conviction of its
warrant in Scripture and with a view to one's
glorifying God by the crucifixion of sin and enjoyment
of mercy on the grounds of the merit of Jesus Christ
1. It is either the complete denial of food for a
period of time (2 Samuel 12:16) or it is the partial
denial of food for a period of time (Daniel 10:2,3).
2. It is not done out of a high view of tradition
(though the saints throughout history have fasted).
Nor is it to be performed out of implicit faith simply
because one in authority has commanded it. Nor is it a
legalistic act of mere external righteousness so as to
be seen by men (Matthew 6:1,16-l8). Nor is it to
promote some view of asceticism (namely, that the body
is evil and therefore must be punished). It is to be
rendered as an act of worship to God out of a sincere
conviction that God calls us in His Word to fast on
certain occasions (Matthew i7:21; Acts 14:23).
3. The primary end of fasting as in all things is
God's glory (I Corinthians 1O:31).
4. The secondary end of fasting is the crucifixion of
sin (the weakening of the hold of sin, the humiliation
of self, the mourning and grieving over sin), and the
enjoyment of God's mercy and grace.
5. The ground of all spiritual blessings that God
graciously bestows is only and always the person and
work of Jesus Christ. There is no merit in our works
of righteousness.

II. Question: Where is religious fasting taught in
Answer: Religious fasting is taught throughout the
1. David fasted when his son by Bathsheba hung between
life and death (2 Samuel 12:16).
2. Nehemiah fasted when he heard of the desolations of
Jerusalem (Nehemiah l:4).
3. Jehoshaphat appointed a day of fasting when enemies
came against him (2 Chronicles 20:3).
4. The inhabitants of Nineveh fasted at the preaching
of Jonah (Jonah 3:7,8).
5. The Lord Himself fasted for 40 days (Luke 4:1-13).
6. The apostles fasted when elders were ordained to
office (Acts 14:23).
7. Jesus assumes that His people will fast when He
says, "Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the
hypocrites" (Matthew 6:16-13).
8. The disciples were unable to cast the demon out of
the young boy because Jesus said, "this kind does not
go out except by prayer and fasting" (Matthew 17:21).

III. Question: Why should you fast?
1. First, because God calls you to do so.
2. Second, because your affections and appetites are
inclined to the things of this world (fasting turns
your affections from the things of this life to the
things of Christ).
3. Third, because pride and self-sufficiency hinder
your fellowship with God (fasting, however, reveals
your insufficiency and God's all-sufficiency). The
physical weakness one feels from fasting should remind
him of his weakness before an absolutely sovereign and
infinitely holy God.
4. Fourth, because you desire to mourn over sin and
rejoice in mercy.
5. Fifth, because you need the spiritual power and
wisdom that comes from God. The disciples having been
given the authority to cast out all demons in a
specific missionary journey (Luke 9:1-6) returned to
declare the mighty things that had been done in the
cities they visited (Luke 9:6,10). However, these same
disciples needed the means of prayer and fasting once
the supernatural authority earlier given to them for
their missionary journey had ceased (Matthew 17:21).
Likewise the apostles and congregations of the first
century recognized their desperate need for wisdom and
power and ordained elders with a time of fasting (Acts

IV. Question: Who is to fast?
Answer: All those who can do so as an act of worship
to God from a sincere conscience without superstition,
legalism, implicit faith, asceticism, or hypocrisy.
Children can be taught to fast even as they can be
taught to pray, but they must be taught what fasting
is and is not (also note some of the points under VI
below in regard to more practical issues relating to
small children).

V. Question: When should you fast?
1. Individually--when personal needs arise.
2. As families--when there is need.
3. As churches--when called to do so by the elders.
4. As a nation--when called to do so by a lawful civil
magistrate. In general, we should fast much more often
than most of us do. It should not only be viewed as a
remedial cure when facing an impending crisis, but
also as a preventative measure to be filled with
wisdom and power long before any crisis arises.

VI. Question: How should you fast?
1. Samuel Miller has noted, "Fasting, like the
Sabbath, was made for man, and not man for fasting. No
one, therefore, ought to carry abstinence to such an
extreme as to impair or endanger his bodily health."
2. However, when, weakness appears from fasting, one
ought not to think he/she is not able to fast. One
will almost certainly experience weakness while
fasting. For the bodily weakness is intended to remind
one of his weakness in every way before the Almighty
3. If you have a physical problem (like high or low
blood sugar etc.), you may be able to partially fast.
However, do not eat to satisfy the appetite, eat only
to satisfy the need.
4. If you must work very hard and require food,
consider a partial fast. Do not think because your
fast is not a complete fast that it is unacceptable to
God ("God will have mercy and not sacrifice" Hosea
5. Teach your children about fasting and involve them
in the fast as they are able to bear it (perhaps they
can fast for one meal if they are unable to fast for
one day, or perhaps they can partially fast). Be
careful not to deprive small children of needed
6. Be careful to drink plenty of water while fasting
(stay away from fluids on an empty stomach that have
caffeine--the results will not be the kind of 'fast"
for which you are looking).
7. Try to order the day as much as you can so that you
are reminded throughout the day that it is a day set
aside to reveal your insufficiency and God's all
8. The day should not be spent in laughter or
frivolous speech, but there should be a carefulness in
both speech and conduct.
9. Be careful that you do not publicize the fact that
you are fasting so as to be seen by men as did the
Pharisees (Matthew 6: 1,16). Do not wear a gloomy
face, nor lead others to ask what's wrong by your
peculiar behavior. Rather try not to draw any
attention to yourself while fasting (Matthew 6:
16-18). If someone should ask why you are not eating,
seek to answer the question with as little attention
drawn to yourself as possible.