What do you think about fasting?
This is an excellent question! Overall, the reformed tradition is favorable toward fasting as a form of prayer. I personally believe that fasting is a great form of prayer and meditation. It has been around since the first inklings of religion for a reason. While some people need to be careful about certain types of fasting because of health issues, fasting is more diverse than many people give it credit for and can edify the spiritual walk of all those seeking to grow closer to God.
Fasting is traditionally the act of not eating for a specific period of time in order to devote the extra time to prayer. The physical pains of hunger are a reminder to the one fasting of his or her reliance on God and on human fragility. In extreme examples of fasting, the one fasting doesn’t eat or drink anything for a period of time. We also see fasts in which only certain types of food are avoided. A popular example of this is the “Daniel fast” in which Daniel avoids certain foods for a period of time. (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Daniel+10%3A2-3&version=ESV) Perhaps the most well known type of fasting in western culture these days is when people “give something up” during Lent. Often it’s something like sweets or chocolate or sometimes TV or facebook. While these mini-fasts can be a good chance to weed out distractions in our lives, we must be careful to remember that just as a full fast is meant for prayer and listening, when we turn off facebook for the season of Lent, the time we find should be dedicated to prayer and scripture, contemplation and study, otherwise it’s not an actual spiritual fast. It’s also important to remember that fasting is not meant to be public. Walking around lamenting about how we’re suffering from not having eaten cookies in days is a pretty good indication that our motives are in the wrong place. (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+6%3A16-18&version=ESV)
Other Biblical examples of fasting:
· Jesus fasting: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%204:1-11
· True and false fasting: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+58+&version=ESV
· Ezra’s fast to pray for protection: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezra+8:21&version=ESV
· Fasting in the Psalms:
· God asks the people to turn back to the Lord in prayer and fasting: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Joel+2:12&version=ESV
· A day of fasting for the purpose of hearing God’s Word: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Jeremiah+36:6&version=ESV
· Fasting as an act of commitment in the ordination/election of new leaders: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+14:23&version=ESV