It seems apparent that Jesus expected his disciples to fast at certain times (Mt. 9:14-15). While Jesus was with them to instruct and guide and give them answers to the problems of life the instant they needed those answers, there apparently was not a need to fast, but when he was taken away and they felt the need for spiritual strength, he indicated that they would fast.

However, since neither the time or manner of fasting was either implied, suggested or commanded, we must conclude that those things are a matter of private concern, and to be determined by each person on an individual basis as he feels the need and value of fasting. When one looks at some of the passages that deal with the subject, such as Mt. 9:14, Mk. 2:18, Luke 5:33, Acts 13:2, 1 Cor. 7:6, 2 Cor. 6:5 and others, it seems clear that the primary purpose of fasting was to help us to see more clearly our duty or give us strength in times of adversity, sorrow or grief. Mt. 6:16-18 shows clearly that it is to be a private matter and not a public one, or "church ordinance."

Therefore, when one finds that the discipline of special self-denial and putting out of our hearts the normal desires and concentrating on God and His claims and goodness to us bring us strength and/or comfort, we should engage in fasting. It is my opinion that in the Lord's church today, we are far more interested in feasting and laughter than we are in prayer and fasting, and have lost a lot thereby. We sometimes act, contrary to Paul's statement in Rom. 14:17 "For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost."

T. Pierce Brown

Published in The Old Paths Archive