lundi 16 janvier 2012

FASTING from a possible Historical perspective

I read a piece of historical treatise about fasting, and it was the first that i have ever read and i loved it so so much. I really hope to get some day other books that speak of fasting from an historical perspective. I recommend this link.

In Princeton Seminary's 1810 charter, "The Plan of a Theological Seminary," Article 5, Section 1, "It is also wished and recommended, that each student should ordinarily set apart one day in a month for special prayer and self-examination in secret, accompanied with fasting."

I will briefly give some names on the Catholic and the Protestant side who have been practicing in their own way the discipline of fasting. This is just to encourage those of us who are either Christian Catholic or Protestant that this issue of fasting is part of the whole christian community and history. So don't miss in the privilege to be part of history. lol


1. Antony (ca. 251-356), Athanasius' classic depiction of Antony shows him eating bread and salt, with water, once a day in the evenings, and frequently foregoing these. Fasting, combined with prayer, was seen as a means of thwarting demonic temptations.

2. John Chrysostom and Ephrem the Syrian (4th century), Diadokos of Photiki and Mark the Hermit (5th century), and John Climacus (6th century). With Ephrem (ca. 306-373) who wrote at least ten hymns on fasting that were featured in the liturgical year. Hymn 1 features Jesus defeating Satan in the desert. Hymn 4.11 Moses and Elijah as forerunners of Christ experiencing the same fasting duration and supernatural power. Hymns 7-9 refer to the exemplary biblical fasts of Esther, the Ninevites, Daniel and his three friends. In addition to the negative example of Adam and Eve, the hypocritical fast of Ahab and Jezebel against Naboth is recalled in Hymn 3. For Ephrem, the many good uses of fasting were ultimately transcended by the purification it fosters that allows a clearer vision of God: "Beau et utile est le jeûne pour celui qui se purifie afin de contempler Dieu."
3. John Cassian's (ca. 360-ca. 435), Maximus the Confessor (7th century), Bernard of Clairvaux, Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), Paul of Thebes etc.

Monks were to fast until the ninth hour on Wednesdays and Fridays from Pentecost through the summer. The ninth hour is our current 3 P.M (15h00) making the first hour being at 6 A.M in the morning.


1.Martin Luther (1483-1546) was the protestant reformer who started the Lutheran church.
2.John Calvin (1509-1564), known also because of his theological works and the often debated Calvinism doctrine on election and predestination.
3.Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531), John Knox (1514-1572), Chaplain Thomas Becon (Anglican), John Wesley (1703-1791), founder of the Methodists etc.

These people also kept their fasting time usually up to 3 P.M (the ninth hour) too on occasion.

People all over the world have been fasting using different durations and have been limiting their food intakes upon different things. Some only ate and still eat snacks instead of food, other take legume, fruits and Juice, etc.  while other just go for an absolute fast with no food intake and some time with no water intake (though this last one (lack of water) is not recommended for a longer period of time.

The most important thing during a fast is to have a reason for depriving yourself of food. Fasting in itself is not intrinsically spiritually good, it becomes good as it gets practiced along a noble cause. Remember the hymn of Ephrem above among the catholic list i gave you, even queen Jezebel made a sort of a fasting vow in order to take by force Naboth possession. Even some Jew seemed to have made a fasting vow to kill St. Paul the apostle (Act 23:14).  Derek Prince once told the story of a woman he met in a flight who politely refused all foods brought to her bu the flight attendant hostess. At Derek inquiry, she answered that she was not a Christian, but she was a Satanist. After he asked the reason of the fast, she said that she was fasting so that Christian marriages may end in divorce. I read that at the close of the 90's (end of the 20th Century). I suspect that, if she is still alive and unrepentant, given the current statistics about Christian marriages that end in divorce, she might feel very encouraged to keep fasting.

So the usefulness of a fast goes hand to hand with the prompting of the Spirit in you and the way you are spiritually predisposed in doing it. As seen in Isaiah 58, the true fast has in it the element of spiritual* and moral virtue entangle in it.

Some people fast the whole day until the Sun sets. other do that up to 3 P.M, while other goes up to Midnight (12 A.M) before they break their fast. Some takes only a morning Break-Fast and then eat nothing up to the next morning. The methods varies so much and i am sure that they are other means of depriving oneself of solid foods for a spiritual reason with different timing that i haven't heard yet.

Remember all that fasting is not a competition of who can resist hunger better and who can fast longer. Rev. Kenneth Haggin mentioned once in one of his books that he never faster  more than 3 days and i do not know of any one who has fasted more than a week and who has reported more supernatural manifestation in their lives or ministry as the one reported in Kenneth Haggin ministry. This is just to say that, it is not a competition. It is about searching for God for specific petitions or else. If you have your answer after a day by God grace, that is good! If you have to go to 21 or 40 days to get your answer(s) then tough luck. But all it is, it's that you have to look for God and receiving what He has for you and not if you can outperform others by lasting longer. Answer is the reason, the only reason that matter!

Have great day and remaining week in Jesus' name.

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