Of the three disciplines in Matthew 6:1-18, fasting is the most difficult because evangelical Christians have been hesitant to participate in fasts. For most, they would prefer a good potluck to a fast!
However, fasting was common in the ancient world and is still an important spiritual discipline for many religious people. The practice of fasting is considered a critically important method for getting in touch with spiritual things. For example, Bonhoeffer said “Satiated flesh is unwilling to pray and unfit for self-sacrificing service” (Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, 158). McKnight considers this an example of the instrumental view of fasting: one fasts in order to gain some spiritual benefit. But he also states clearly this view of fasting is simply not found in the Bible (McKnight, Sermon, 193).
Jesus does not command almsgiving, prayer or fasting. He simply assumes his disciples will do these basic spiritual disciplines. What he commands…
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