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Fasting

Fasting, or occasional abstinence from food in order to bring the body into subjection to the spirit, is a practice frequently mentioned in the Bible, generally in connection with prayer. David fasted when his child was sick (2 Samuel 12:16); Daniel fasted when he sought special light from God (Daniel 9:3); Paul and Barnabas fasted when they appointed elders (Acts 14:23); Esther fasted before going in to Ahasuerus (Esther 4:16). It is a subject about which we find no direct command in the New Testament. It seems to be left to everyone’s discretion, whether he will fast or not. In this absence of direct command we may see great wisdom. Many a poor man never has enough to eat, and it would be an insult to tell him to fast: many sick people can hardly be kept well with the closest attention to diet, and could not fast without bringing on illness. It is a matter in which each person must be persuaded in their own mind, and not rashly condemn others who do not agree. One thing only must never be forgotten: those who fast should do it quietly, secretly and without ostentation. Let them not “show men they are fasting.” Let them not fast to man, but to God.