Fasting – the most resented of all spiritual disciplines, but the one most likely to be embraced by Californians in search of their beach bodies – is more important in the Bible than we often acknowledge. If you haven’t heard you pastor preach on fasting, it’s probably because he doesn’t want to be a hypocrite. We ought to talk about, and think, and engage far more with fasting as a means of spiritual renewal and of seeking God’s face. Donald Whitney (in Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life) lists no less than nine forms of fasting that he’s helpfully categorised for your condemnation conviction:
1. Normal fasts – abstaining from food, but not from water, for a set period of time. Think Jesus in the wilderness.
2. Partial fasts – limiting your diet to certain simple food groups. Think Daniel and his three friends.
4. Supernatural fasts – not eating or drinking for a time, beyond what is naturally possible. Think Moses on Mount Sinai.
5. Private fasts – fasting while smiling and smelling good so that nobody notices. Think the teaching of Jesus.
7. National fasts – when a nation gets desperate for God’s help. Think Judah under Jehoshaphat.
8. Regular fasts – prescribed under the Old Testament law. Think Yom Kippur.
9. Occasional fasts – special needs call for special measures. Think the guests without the Bridegroom.