But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. – Matthew 6:17-18
In his famous book “The Celebration of Discipline,” Richard Foster opens his introduction to fasting with this insightful quip, “In a culture where the landscape is dotted with shrines to the Golden Arches and an assortment of Pizza Temples, fasting seems out of place, out of step with the times.” 65 Yet when we read a verse like Matthew 6:17, the adverb “when” implies that Jesus regarded fasting as part of a Christian’s life.
The neglect of fasting as a spiritual discipline is not a new phenomenon. In his time, Wesley observed that “Some have exalted religious fasting beyond all Scripture and reason; and others have utterly disregarded it.”66 For Wesley, fasting was another way in which a Christian could continually receive grace from God.67 In the earlier part of his life, John Wesley would fast on Wednesdays and Fridays. Later, he “began his fast after the evening meal on Thursday evening and broke it with tea on Friday afternoon.”68 What did Wesley do while he fasted? He gave particular time to both prayer and devotion. Why did he fast? “Wesley did not see fasting as an act of mortification… He did not believe the effectiveness of fasting lay in its duration or intensity, but rather in the commitment of time exclusively for God and spiritual concerns.”69
忽视禁食作为属灵操练并不是一个新现象。约翰.卫斯理在他那个时代指出：“有些人高抬宗教禁食及至超越所有的经文和理性;而其他人完全无视它。”对约翰.卫斯理来说，禁食是基督徒不断从上帝那里领受恩典的另一种途径。 在他早期生命，约翰.卫斯理每周星期三和星期五禁食。后来，他“周四晚上在晚餐后开始禁食到星期五下午开始喝茶。”约翰.卫斯理禁食时做了什么？他将这特殊的时间来用来祷告和灵修。他为什么禁食？ “约翰.卫斯理并不认为禁食是一种屈辱行为。。他不认为禁食的有效性在于它的持续时间或强度，而是将时间分别出来专注于上帝和属灵关注。”
Is fasting a part of your discipleship journey? Are you willing to deny yourself and devote your time to encountering His grace through fasting?