Biblical Fasting

Have you wondered if fasting is still an ordinance of God for Christians today? Samuel Miller (1769-1850) provides sound teaching on this extraordinary element of worship prescribed in the Westminster Confession of Faith (21.5) and in the Westminster Directory of Public Worship. It is, as he affirms, a duty, and a blessing, to those who seek to draw near to God in a special way. His 1831 sermon on The Duty, The Benefits, and the Proper Method of Religious Fasting remains a faithful witness to an ordinance that is much-neglected today.

Consider his words concerning Daniel and how they resonate today: "Religion was at a low ebb among the professing people of God. Even their deep adversity had not led them to repentance and reformation. ... But this holy man trusted in God; and in the exercise of faith, saw, beyond the clouds which encircled him and his people, a ray of light which promised at once deliverance and glory. He perceived nothing, indeed, among the mass of his Jewish brethren which indicated a speedy termination of their captivity; but he 'understood by books,' that is, he firmly believed, on the ground of a recorded prophecy, delivered by Jeremiah, that the period of their liberation was drawing nigh. In this situation, what does he do? Instead of desponding, he 'encourages himself in the Lord his God.' And, instead of allowing himself to indulge a spirit of presumption or indolence, on account of the certainty of the approaching deliverance, he considers himself as called to special humiliation, fasting and prayer; to humble himself before God under a sense of the deep unworthiness of himself and his companions in captivity; and to pray with importunity that their unmerited emancipation might be at once hastened and sanctified. Such is the spirit of genuine piety."

Miller helps us to understand that fasting has its place in the life of a Christian. Take time to study this religious duty, and to find the blessing that God has ordained for those who practice it in faith.