What is the purpose of Fasting and Prayer?

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tjm3383

Puritan Board Freshman
I recently recieved a newsletter from MTW on their missionaries in Peru (see attached) calling on the church to fast and pray on June 24th. I posted this too facebook for people to prayfully consider. I recieved mostly positive feedback but one seemed to take exception to the idea that fasting would be of benefit to the one doing the fasting and those whom the prayers were directed towards. I'm considering a fast on this date for the persecuted church (and specifically the situation in Peru) however I would like some feedback on the benefit of fasting. Is it simply an exercise to show us what it is like to be less fortunate? or is their more to it?
 
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Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
There are many, many references to fasting in Scripture. Both Old and New Testaments. E.g.

Acts 10:30

30And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing,

The Westminster Confession of Faith summarizes the doctrine of scripture to include a regulated part of worship:

Westminster Confession of Faith

Chapter XXI
Of Religious Worship, and the Sabbath Day

....


V. The reading of the Scriptures with godly fear,[17] the sound preaching[18] and conscionable hearing of the Word, in obedience unto God, with understanding, faith and reverence,[19] singing of psalms with grace in the heart;[20] as also, the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ, are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God:[21] beside religious oaths,[22] vows,[23] solemn fastings,[24] and thanksgivings upon special occasions,[25] which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in an holy and religious manner.[26]

If you read "Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life," by Donald Whitney, it is described as one of the basic disciplines of Christian life. http://www.christianbook.com/spirit...an-life/donald-whitney/9781576830277/pd/30275

While there is no ritual to it biblically, it is of great use to the Christian, along with prayer and meditating upon God's Word. It helps one focus on God, minimize distraction, and I think even subdue the flesh, in a sense at least.

It seems that as prayer, it can be done privately (as individual or even in a family) or publicly (corporately)- there is a place for both.
 

JennyG

Puritan Board Graduate
In Scripture it seems to be presented as a way of adding weight to intercessory prayer - as when Esther fasted with all her maidens.
So to fast for the persecuted church would be a Biblical thing to do.
 

tjm3383

Puritan Board Freshman
That is my thought as well Jenny. Scripture does not limit fasting to simply an excercise that helps you relate to the less fortunate.
 

JennyG

Puritan Board Graduate
That is my thought as well Jenny. Scripture does not limit fasting to simply an excercise that helps you relate to the less fortunate.
I agree, in fact I wonder whether even if it does so help, that isn't more or less of a by-product.
 
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