Fasting: Helpful Hint #3

Oct 17, 2019

For today’s post I want to share a few quotes regarding fasting. The first is from John Piper. I used this in the sermon on fasting, but it is well worth pondering.

“Do you have a hunger for God? If we don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because we have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because we have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Our soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great. If we are full of what the world offers, then perhaps a fast might express, or even increase, our soul’s appetite for God. Between the dangers of self-denial and self-indulgence is the path of pleasant pain called fasting.”

John Piper, A Hunger for God [online book ]

The next one comes from John Calvin. Similar to John Piper, Calvin makes an intriguing observation about food and satisfaction becoming a distraction from our hunger for God.

“…whenever men are to pray to God concerning any great matter, it would be expedient to appoint fasting along with prayer.  Their sole purpose in this kind of fasting is to render themselves more eager and unencumbered for prayer…with a full stomach our mind is not so lifted up to God.”

John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3 Chapter 12

Andrew Murray adds a helpful thought about fasting being a way to learn and express dependence on God. More specifically, he identifies the impact that an outward action can have on a person’s inner attitude.

“We are creatures of the senses. Our minds are helped by what comes to us in concrete form. Fasting helps to express, to deepen, and to confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves, to attain to the Kingdom of God.” 

Andrew Murray, With Christ in the School of Prayer

Finally a quote from John Wesley. Wesley habitually practiced the discipline of fasting and expected his followers to do the same. He encourage them to fast twice weekly. Although Wesley’s intentions seem right, his enforcement became somewhat legalistic. His insight here is nonetheless helpful.

“Some have exalted religious fasting beyond all Scripture and reason; and others have utterly disregarded it.  It is not all, nor yet is it nothing.  It is not the end, but it is a precious means thereto; a means which God Himself has ordained, and in which therefore, when it is duly used He will surely give us His blessing.”

John Wesley, The Works of John Wesley, vol 5 – Sermon on the Mount