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Christianity, Islam, and Judaism:

Perspective on Fasting

One of the longest established disciplines of the human body is that of fasting.

Fasting is abstaining from food, drink, sleep or sex to focus on a period of spiritual

growth( has also been used in nearly every religion in the world, including Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Many of history's great spiritual leaders fasted for mental and spiritual clarity, including Jesus, Buddha, and Mohammed. Fasting is an important element in religious practices.

Christian Perspective

Nowhere in the New Testament is fasting commanded as a binding obligation upon the Christian. However, if one elects to fast it should be nothing less than drawing nearer to God. Even though fasting is not commanded that doesn’t mean that fasting isn’t recommended as a part of a Christian’s spiritual growth. Fasting is very important in Christianity. Jesus fasted for 40 days and nights. The Book of Acts records believers’ fasting before they made important decisions (Act 13:4, 14:23). Fasting and prayer are often linked together (Luke 2: 37; 5:33). Although fasting in Scriptures is almost always a fasting from food; there are other ways to fast. Anything you can temporarily give up in order to better focus on God can be considered a fast (1 Cor. 7:1-5). Fasting should be limited to a set time, especially when the fasting is food. The occasions for a fast is total voluntary. Christians fast for different reasons. They fast during difficult times, to express sorrow or regret for sin or to seek guidance from God. Christian also fast to communicate emotion to God.

Christian fasting is more than denying he or herself food or something else of the flesh вЂ" it’s a sacrificial lifestyle before God. In Isaiah 58, a “true fast” is not just a one-time act of humility and denial before God; it is a lifestyle of servant ministry to others. Isaiah tells us, fasting encourages humility, loosens the chains of injustice, unties the chords of the yoke, frees the oppressed, feeds the hungry, provides for the poor, and clothes the naked. (Isaiah 58: 1-9). The concept of Christian fasting isn’t a one-day thing вЂ" it’s a lifestyle of servant living for God and others.

Jewish Perspective

Fasting is a part of the Jewish tradition. Fasting was instituted in Biblical times as a sign of morning, or when danger threatened, or when the seer was preparing himself a divine revelation. Occasional fasts were also instituted for the whole community, especially when the nation believed itself to be under Divine displeasure, or a great calamity befell the land, or pestilence raged, or drought set in ( The normal Jewish fast involved abstaining from all food, but not water. The occasional partial fasts required a restricted diet, not total abstinence (Daniel 10:2-3). During an absolute fast ( Esther 4:16, Acts 9:9), which was a rare event, nothing was ingested. Extended absolute fasts, such as those of Moses and Elijah (Deuteronomy 9:9; 1 Kings 19:8), surely must have had divine assistance. Most fasts lasted but a single day, from sunrise to sunset. After the sun went down, it was okay to eat (e.g. Judges 20:26; 1Samuel 14:24). Daniel fasted for one night (Daniel 6:18). Fasts could be longer, of course. Esther fasted three days and nights (Esther 4:16). David fasted seven days when his child was ill (2 Samuel 12:16-18), as did all of Jabesh-Gilead when Saul was buried (1 Chronicles 10:12). The 40-day fasts of Moses, Elijah and Jesus are the longest mentioned in Scripture (Exodus 34:28; 1 Kings 19:8; Matthew 4:2).

In modern times, Jewish people fast for atonement and commemorating tragedies. There are a number of fasts days in Judaism, Yom Kippur and Tisha B'Av being the longest fasts of the year. Yom Kippur is the only one of their fasts that was scriptural bases by the Law. Also, there are five minor fasts in the Jewish faith. The Fast of the First Born "symbolizes the passing of the �Angel of Death’ of the first born sons of the Israelites." The Fast of the 17th Tammuz honors the horrible events that led up to the destruction of the Second Temple in 70CE. The Fast of Gedalia "recalls the murder of Gedalia, last of the royal dynasty of Judah." The Fast of 10th Tevet "commemorates the devastating day when Nebuchadnezzar began his siege on Jerusalem." Lastly, the Fast of Esther "precedes the festival of Purim and commemorates the day of fast and prayer by Esther."

( The purpose of fasting is to “afflict your soul” a mean of repenting. Judaism teaches that repentance is in no way synonymous with fasting for a sin one has committed. Repentance merely requires abandoning the sin for all time. The purpose of fasting for Jews was that one becomes acceptable to God, as he was before the sin. The sole purpose of these fasts was to restore the bonds of love between the former sinner and his Maker.

Islamic Perspective

Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is a highly developed institution. There are two types of fasting, obligatory and optional. During the month of Ramadan every Muslim is required to fast. Ramadan is for the commemoration of the first revelations



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