Fasting is one important “method” of Methodism

This Sunday, March 14, our sermon series, “Putting the Method in Methodist,” continues with Part 2: Fasting or “Giving Something Up.” As one means of grace alongside prayer, Scripture, the Lord’s Supper, and others, I don’t want to overstate its value. But of all of these means of grace or “ordinances of God,” fasting is surely the most misunderstood and the least practiced. Why?

Wesley himself fasted at least once a week throughout his life and believed that Jesus himself commanded the practice. While I wouldn’t go that far, I see his point. In our scripture, Matthew 6:16-18, Jesus clearly assumes that his disciples will fast in the same way that he assumes that disciples will pray and give money to the poor. (Click here for Wesley’s sermon on the topic. It’s excellent!)

I like what Richard Foster wrote about Christians’ reluctance to fast: “Why has the giving of money, for example, been unquestionably recognized as an element in Christian devotion and fasting so disputed? Certainly we have as much, if not more, evidence from the Bible for fasting as we have for giving. Perhaps in our affluent society fasting involves a far larger sacrifice than the giving of money.”

How do you feel about fasting? Should Christians practice it today? Why or why not?

We will explore these questions and more this Sunday. See you then!

Richard J. Foster, Celebration of Discipline, rev. ed. (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988), 54.

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