Hudson Taylor on Fasting

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christianyouth

Puritan Board Senior
In Shansi I found Chinese Christians who were accustomed to spend time in fasting and prayer. They recognized that this fasting, which so many dislike, which requires faith in God, since it makes one feel weak and poorly, is really a Divinely appointed means of grace. Perhaps the greatest hindrance to our work is our own imagined strength; and in fasting we learn what poor, weak creatures we are - dependent on a meal of meat for the little strength which we are so apt to lean upon.

- James Hudson Taylor -
 

christianyouth

Puritan Board Senior
Well, I just don't think I've ever heard it described as a means of grace before.

I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts on that?
 

OPC'n

Puritan Board Doctor
It's interesting that he says fasting is a means of grace....

Paul also gave us a similar definition of grace in Philippians 1:7 "It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel."

Imprisonment and defense of the Gospel doesn't seem a likely definition of grace does it? I think grace comes in different packages. Sanctification is always grace poured upon us no matter how unpleasant the trial!

I have to say that I have not given myself to praying for the grace to fast.
 

Pilgrim's Progeny

Puritan Board Sophomore
My wife and I always refer to child-rearing as a means of grace, as each blessing comes along we find greater dependence on God required, nothing has taken us to the throne of grace like child-bearing and raising
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Religious fasting is a means of grace, although it is one of those "means" that is greatly neglected today.

Richard Rogers describes it thus in his Puritan devotional manual Seven Treatises when listing the "means of grace":

“… They are partly ordinary, that is, such as are commonly and usually to be practiced, of which sort there are many: and partly extraordinary, at some special time, as fasting, and some rare solemnities in feasting and thanksgiving. And both of these are either public or private.”
...
“The public (such as are used in our open assemblies ordinarily) are these three: First, the ministry of the Word read, preached, and heard, as the Lord prescribes. Secondly, the administration of the holy sacraments, and worthy receiving of the same. Thirdly, the exercise of prayer, with thanksgiving and singing of Psalms. But because the public cannot be daily had and enjoyed, (and yet we need daily relief and help) neither although they could, were they sufficient to enable us, to honor God as it becomes us, therefore God hath commanded us to use private exercises, whereof these seven be chief. First, watchfulness, meditation, and the armor of a Christian, unto which is to be added our own experience: and these properly belong to every one alone by himself. The next are the use of company by conference and family-exercise, and these are properly to be used of a mans self with others: the last two, which are [private] prayer and reading, are common to both.”

I've made mention of fasting as a means of grace in these threads which you may find to be of interest:

http://www.puritanboard.com/f24/puritan-piety-28905/
http://www.puritanboard.com/f25/practical-views-fasting-33847/
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Then everything in a Christians life is ultimately a means of grace...but if we widen the definition then does this cheapen the terminology of "means of grace?"
 

Timothy William

Puritan Board Junior
Perhaps we need a more precise definition of a means of grace?

There are the Means of Grace proper, that is the Word preached, and the sacraments, which directly convey the content of the gospel, by word and by action.

There are also those things, such as trials and difficulties and all manner of diverse providences, which, in combination with a knowledge of the Word of God, can be used as means of grace. They are not, however, Means of Grace if used in isolation from a pre-existing knowledge of the gospel, for a pagan can fast, or be denied food by his circumstances, without there being anything in that experience which would convey any knowledge of the gospel to him.

I would consider fasting to be a deliberate entering into a particular circumstance (hunger) which can be used providentially to strengthen the faith of the believer. Most such circumstances are considered trials, and are not usually entered into deliberately, except as they are necessary co-occurrences of other, more desired ends.
 
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