I have been thinking about a lot of really neat ideas for blogs, I just haven't had the time to sit and write about them. Here's a blog on something I've been thinking about for about a week now - Fasting.
This isn't going to be a long blog, it's just a "simple" question.
The word "fast" occurs in the Bible (NIV) approximately 47 times. However, in some of these verses it is used with a different meaning (e.g. "Solomon held fast to them in love.") There are also additional passages where fasting is implied, but not literally stated (such as Jesus going into the desert for 40 days).
In the Old Testament, fasting is prescribed by the Law on the day of Atonement. Also, different national and city leaders declared fasts at certain times. In Kings, Chronicles, Esther, and Ezra fasts are called to inquire of the Lord and to ask for safety.
In the New Testament (particularly the Gospels) fasting seems to be connected primarily to mourning. This is especially true of the times when Jesus says that his disciples will fast after he leaves them. There are a couple of occasions when fasting seems to be connected with prayer as well. Typically, I have heard it explained that fasting is associated with mourning for the sins of a people or nation. Jesus seemed to assume that people would fast, because in Matthew 6 he says "When you fast..."
In Scripture as a whole, fasting is not really thoroughly explained. Although there are examples of what people did during a fast (and even the results of the fast), there is no theological explanation of the practice itself. It is not utilized to the same extent that prayer is, and the regularity of a fast is not prescribed by Christ (the early church continued the Jewish practices).
From the Biblical understanding, how does fasting fit into the life of a Christian desiring to live a holy life?