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Heregoes
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Date Posted:12/01/2010 2:37 AMCopy HTML

Hi all

I'd like to have a short discussion on the issue of fasting.  We all remember how we used to attend Prayer and Fasts religiously every 6 weeks or so (whether we needed it or not).  What do we all think is the purpose of fasting? Will fasting produce more answered prayers as we have leart previously? Does it serve any purpose? Does God require it of us?

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Re:Fasting

Date Posted:13/01/2010 9:10 AMCopy HTML

Hi,

If I can put my "two bob's worth" in...

I would have expected that if you (as an individual or a religious organization) claimed to be "moved by the Spirit" then any days of prayer and fasting you did have should be based along a similar chronological sequence as to when the Spirit 'moved upon' Israel in the wilderness.
In other words, days of prayer and fasting might appear to an individual to be relatively 'unscheduled' and 'haphazard'.

For example, you might have two separate days of praying and fasting in the period of a fortnight, but then the next one might not be for another 6 months.
If you're having a day of prayer and fasting every 5 to 6 weeks, then you simply end up having a prayer and fast NOT because you're being 'moved by the Spirit' but you're having it simply for the sake of having a day of praying and fasting. In other words, you're by-passed the Spirit entirely!

It would be like Moses saying to the Lord and to the children of Israel; "Look, I'm getting a bit tired of not knowing when the Spirit is going to surprise us with the next move, so why don't we just do the following: Every time we camp at a particular location, why don't we just break camp after about 5 weeks, and then move on to the next spot - at least that way we'll know how long we're going to stay in one spot and so we can plan properly and get more organized with the setting up of camp and also have the time to care for our families?" Can someone show me any difference between Moses "calling the shots" and someone else "calling the shots" regarding having a day of prayer and fasting every 5 to 6 weeks?
I think they're the same thing - and what's omitted here from both situations is "the moving of God's Spirit".

Look, it wouldn't surprise me if there was an ulterior motive in all this, that is in having a day of prayer and fasting at close and regular intervals, and that might be (along with other activities) to keep people busy with assembly 'things'.
If the ministry can keep the congregation busy with things within the assembly (and those things appear to people to have some sort of spiritual aspect to them), then they believe that the congregation will be less likely to get distracted by things outside of the assembly - and to the ministry's way of thinking, they will then be less likely to be tempted to leave the assembly "for the world".

Anyway - I've given my two bob's worth. I'll let someone else add to your message.

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Re:Fasting

Date Posted:13/01/2010 10:31 AMCopy HTML

Hi, HG.

Hmmm ... fasting ... a very interesting subject! To begin with, Jesus himself recognised and approved of this particular spiritual discipline for his followers. Note, for example, the implications of the fact of his teaching on fasting immediately follows his teaching on prayer in Matthew 6 (pay particular heed to his use of "when" rather than "if" in verse 16).

However, it's necessary to seek balance if one is to construct a truly biblical theology on this subject. If my memory serves me correctly, there isn't any mention of fasting in the New Testament beyond the book of Acts! (The linking of fasting to prayer in the KJV's rendering of 1 Corinthians 7:5 is textually corrupt. The oldest Greek manuscripts don't include fasting in verse five). By way of contrast, prayer is repeatedly recommended and commanded post the Gospels and Acts

My personal opinion is that if one wishes to fast as a form of spiritual discipline, then all well and good! However, it is nothing but out-and-out legalism for any professedly Christian organisation or group to make such a practice mandatory/compulsory. Fasting doesn't earn a believer any "brownie points" with God, and neither does the practice make God beholden to us. Voluntarily fasting is strictly for an individual's personal self-development.

Revivalist prayer-and-fasts were, and are, naught but corrupt, legalistic, and controlling attempts at presenting a false perception of developed piety.

Blessings,

Ian



email: didaktikon@gmail.com
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Re:Fasting

Date Posted:13/01/2010 6:17 PMCopy HTML

Happy New Year,

Thanks for all your postings about fasting. What a nice change to receive teaching and discussion without the backbiting of interferers!

I contracted ulcerative colitis just after I joined my sub-loony branch of Revivalism, at the age of 23. One could say I got a double dose of pains in the backside.

The primary symptoms of ulcerative colitis are profuse anal bleeding with other yukky discharge. No-one cautioned me about fasting and being the dill that I was, I fasted from time time to time for up to two weeks. As with most of our ultra-fanatical practices, trying up the ante on Lloyd's mob, nothing was ever done with due care or monitoring, because God would only reward us, in fact he was obligated to reward us for our actions. Funny that, because we still continued to be castigated by so-called pastors for everything imaginable, and no-one I knew ever went on to be needing a blue and red costume to go with the Super Christian persona.

I do however remember being rebuked for being late for gatherings having spent the time preceding in agony and profuse bowel evacuations. Of course the fall back for a so-called Pastors, rather than show care or compassion (a definite no-no) was 1 Corinthians 11:30. A very convenient scripture because it could be trotted out to justify why no-one ever got healed of anything, despite laying on of hands, oil dabbing and in later years a la the CAI, of dimming the lights and tinkling pianos et al (we used to mock the UPC for such practices!).

Thirty years later and a few near death experiences, a "specialist" tried curing me with massive doses of cortisone, which worked, sort of, for about six months, then I relapsed and as a bonus I stacked on weight, having been thin most of my life. I nearly carked it again and after intensive care a surgeon, whilst intrepid because of my deteriorated health, removed my entire colon, ascending, transverse, descending, anal sack, the whole kit and caboodle. My recovery was slow and I need a second operation to finish off the things he couldn't do the first time for fear of my inability to endure that much trauma surgery at the time). I have lived with a colostomy bag now for over eight years and am battling off the weight.

My ex "specialist" would make an ideal Revivalist. I was advise to sue him, but I had bigger things a challenges, like a general manager that robbed me of about $ 200,000 while I was at my lowest ebb in hospital. If he'd have been a Revivalist he would have gone straight to the top!

Conclusions? Fasting Revival style is not only wrong, it is in many cases down right dangerous! Revivalists have about as much ability to heal as a gooney bird. Why would God manifest miraculous healing with or through anyone so manifestly disobeying Him?

What did all this mean to me? Eventually (I am a bit thick headed on occasions as many of you have witnessed), a greater trust in God, and thanks to Him for being a comfort a guide and ever loving toward me. After all, we are all just sojourning here for such a little while, with a much much longer glory yet to be experienced. No more pain, no more sorrow. Romans 8:18. Mark Twain mused that eternity is just enough time to learn German.

Sorry if this sounds gloomy. I am truly thankful to God my Father for His blessings, I have a wonderful wife, wonderful friends (which of course includes you), a wonderful extended family (with a few lumpy bits that all families have) and tomorrow we move to a new big apartment with retirement nearing.

If you will excuse my double entendre, my "end" is better than ever!

Blessings

John
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Re:Fasting

Date Posted:14/01/2010 9:26 AMCopy HTML

Good evening, Epi.

Yours was a well considered defence for the ecclesiastical practice of observing set fasts. However, one of the very few areas of theological praxis where I don't see "eye-to-eye" with the Eastern and Western Orthodox, is with respect to this very topic! It was during the late second into the third centuries where an undue "fascination" with asceticism crept into the wider Christian Church. Such was outwardly expressed, by-and-large, through the adoption of fasting as a spiritual discipline. For example, during this period Catechumens were first required to fast for one to two days before submitting to being baptised. Similarly, acts of penitence became something of a "big deal", and were almost always accompanied by periods of fasting.

It's also necessary to draw distinctions between certain common practices unique to specific enclaves of Christians during the first century, practices that were not adopted or shared by the "mainstream" brethren. For example, observant Jews would fast for two days each week, and in Jewish-Christian circles such fasting was continued. However, as the first century Christian treatise, Διδαχὴ Κυρίου διὰ τῶν δώδεκα ἀποστόλων (which is now rather widely known simply as the Didache) clearly records, the Jewish Christians fasted on alternate days to their Pharisaical kith and kin, and they did so simply in order to avoid being mistaken for them! But this was a strictly Jewish-Christian expression of piety, and as such it wasn't widely practiced in Pauline circles.

I trust that we would both agree that Jesus stands as our exemplar for personal character, devotion and purity. But we are not anywhere in Scripture called upon to emulate him in all other respects. Nowhere are his prayer habits imposed upon us, and neither are we called upon to fast for forty days, not even cumulatively! To the contrary, I find it particularly telling that from Jesus own "lips" we learn, "... the Son of Man has come eating and drinking"! (See Matthew 11:19/Luke 7:34) No fasts for Jesus, but no problems had he with imbibing wine either!

Blessings,

Ian

email: didaktikon@gmail.com
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Re:Fasting

Date Posted:15/01/2010 1:59 AMCopy HTML

Great reading, thanks everyone.  So, do you all think that fasting is beneficial for us? And if so, in what way?  That is fasting for spiritual purposes of course - not health or protest fasting!!
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Re:Fasting

Date Posted:15/01/2010 5:28 AMCopy HTML

HG

Thanks for bringing this up. Yet another area of guilt I've carried these years. Felt bad if I was fasting (always got the 'fast' headache) but also felt bad when I just plain refused.

Brolga - you mention humility before God. From memory, there was very little humility as we prayed loud and long on a Saturday afternoon, tummy's rumbling, doing a head-count on how many turned up.

So glad all that's over. Tick that up to experience.

PS: Recognise the new avatar?

Chips

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Re:Fasting

Date Posted:16/01/2010 12:48 AMCopy HTML

Good morning, HG.

Let me frame my answer this way: a solid prayer and Bible reading habit is far, far more beneficial than is any practice of fasting when it comes to solid spiritual outcomes!

Blessings,

Ian

email: didaktikon@gmail.com
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Re:Fasting

Date Posted:16/01/2010 5:58 AMCopy HTML

Morning All,

Just a quick comment. From a lot of my memory of my past times in the RCI re P & F..  Much P & F, if I recall correctly amounted to what I would now term as "sympathetic magic" (Google it up for definition). What we/I failed to understand then because of poorly UNtrained (and UNqualified) RCI leadership is That God is Holy and should NOT be manipulated as we see fit ... P & F should be about MOVING US, NOT US MOVING GOD.... But google for yourselves for a definition of "sympathetic magic.."

blessings

Eric


PS.. I guess the prosperity message is also another form of SM...
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Re:Fasting

Date Posted:16/01/2010 7:05 AMCopy HTML

Reply to Didaktikon

Good morning, HG.

Let me frame my answer this way: a solid prayer and Bible reading habit is far, far more beneficial than is any practice of fasting when it comes to solid spiritual outcomes!

Blessings,

Ian


Ian, could you please be more specific?  I'm not sure anymore what prayer actually is.  I used to spend most of my time praying in tongues and a few minutes praying in English.  Now, if I understand correctly, it's the opposite.  Pray in English mostly and a few minutes praying in tongues.  What, exactly do you say in English?

I must say, when I prayed in tongues, I could literally feel my thoughts, or feelings come from within.  It was a feeling of humility, peace and connection. Maybe it was just in my head!

Thanks...

Zion
For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest.... Isa 62:1
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Re:Fasting

Date Posted:16/01/2010 5:56 PMCopy HTML

Reply to brolga

Eric,

 

P & F should be about MOVING US, NOT US MOVING GOD.

 

To a certain extent I agree with that, but we must leave room for ones faith that God will move as a response to our partitions in prayers to him.

 

God speaks to us in and through the contents of the Bible, which the Holy Spirit opens up and applies to us and enables us to understand.

 

We then speak to God about himself, ourselves and people in his world, shaping what we say as response to what he has said.

 

When we pray and make our requests known to God we express our faith and dependence on him for all things.

 

Jesus teaches that petition to the Father is to be made in his name. This means invoking his mediation, as the one who secures our access to the Father, and looking to him for support as the intercessor in the Father’s presence.

 

We may pray to God with fervent persistence when we bring our needs to him and know that he will answer our prayers.

 

It is important to note, prayer is not just for the individual but a further distinction  of prayer is the importance of intercession as Jesus entrusts the faith community and the efficaciousness (having the power to produce a desired effect) of its witness in the world.

 

Ralph.





Ralph, do find out what I mean by "sympathetic magic" ....  Eric

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Re:Fasting

Date Posted:16/01/2010 11:46 PMCopy HTML

Good morning, Zion.

Ian, could you please be more specific?  I'm not sure anymore what prayer actually is.

I'd be happy to. At its simplest, prayer is petition, it's an act of communication whereby a person approaches God to petition him to meet one's needs. Importantly, a Christian's needs aren't simply material (or physical), they're also ethical, spiritual, emotional and social; hence prayer shouldn't ever be thought of as simply the asking for "stuff".

I used to spend most of my time praying in tongues and a few minutes praying in English.  Now, if I understand correctly, it's the opposite.  Pray in English mostly and a few minutes praying in tongues.

Absolutely! Assuming for the moment that your "tongue" actually is valid, according to Scripture prayer of this sort has but the one outcome: self "edification". In other words, prayer in "tongues" is intended to to meet the subjective and individual need for feeling "built-up" in one's personal faith. But what of one's other needs? What of one's physical/material needs? Or one's broader emotional needs? Or social needs? And what of the Christian responsibility of actively interceding on behalf of others? According to the Bible, prayer in "tongues" doesn't touch on any of these crucial aspects; consequently the "prayer" practices and habits picked up in Revivalism might best be thought of as being largely narcissistic and thoroughly selfish.

What, exactly do you say in English?

My own practice is to commence my prayers via lectio divina, the "spiritual reading of Scripture": having read a portion of Scripture, I'll spend a while quietly meditating on it's spiritual significance. I then spend time thanking God, for being who he is, and for making himself known through Scripture and Christ. Next, I will petition God on behalf of others: family, friends, those who have needs that I'm aware of, Revivalists and former Revivalists I've been ministering to, etc. Thanking God for his presence and activity in my life, and that of my family follows. I also spend time in quiet confession, pleading with God to continue to work towards my sanctification for his glory. Lastly, I often complete my prayers by reciting the Creed, and a little more Bible reading. The very, very brief elements of praying in "tongues" occur during the interludes between these various sections, and then simply to clear my mind in much the same way that sorbet is served between courses at Restaurants to cleanse the physical palate. Hopefully you can see that it's very easy to engage in extended periods of very meaningful, and very productive prayer with God, by using a structured approach similar to my own.

I must say, when I prayed in tongues, I could literally feel my thoughts, or feelings come from within.  It was a feeling of humility, peace and connection. Maybe it was just in my head!

Very possibly, given that Scripture clearly states that prayer in "tongues" occurs with the mind disengaged.

Anyway, it's been my near universal experience of Revivalists that they can waffle on for hours, gibbering away in mindlessly in "tongues". However, when it comes to productive prayer, the vast majority are at a complete loss, and as such are incapable of sustaining anything beyond a few minutes at a time.

How sad is that?

Blessings,

Ian

email: didaktikon@gmail.com
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Re:Fasting

Date Posted:24/01/2010 8:30 AMCopy HTML

A bar began construction on a new building to increase their business. A local church started a campaign to block the bar from opening with petitions and prayers. Work progressed right up till the week before opening when lightning struck the bar and it burned to the ground.

The church folks were rather smug in their outlook after that, until the bar owner sued the church on the grounds that the church was ultimately responsible for the demise of his building, either through direct or indirect actions or means.

The church vehemently denied all responsibility or any connection to the building's demise in its reply to the court.

As the case made its way into court, the judge looked over the paperwork. At the hearing he commented, "I don't know how I'm going to decide this, but it appears from the paperwork we have a bar owner who believes in the power of prayer and an entire church congregation that does not."
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Re:Fasting

Date Posted:27/01/2010 9:47 PMCopy HTML

Good morning, Epi.

I found your reply to Zion's queries on prayer informative.  Good points were presented on ways of and approach to prayer with the inclusion of tongues.

"A place for everything, and everything in its place"


As an ex Revivalist I rarely pray in tongues these days, however there remains a certain guilt that the once heavy emphasis on tongues for all occasions is no longer present for any occasion.  Unlike what other Revivalists have said, I found the long periods of vigorous tongues heavy going.  Even 15 minutes of tongues was long and tiring on the jaw.

Well, to begin with I wouldn't feel any sense of guilt for not babbling on in "tongues", were I you. It's more likely than not that your former habit is simply a learned and practiced behaviour. And anyway, there are far more productive uses of one's time (such as proper prayer, or reflection, for example).

I welcomed your words on the use of praying in tongues as more of a (gentle) interlude between prayer courses.  A good way to incorporate tongues with other forms of prayer.  I have returned to a way of praying I used before Revival which is similar to your own.  It would be hard for those who have never known other than a quick presenting of petitions and straight into tongues for 15, 30, 60 minutes, wrapping it up at the allotted time, to adjust easily to another way.

Indeed. If one doesn't know how to pray, then the crutch of mindlessly prattling in "tongues" can no doubt prove quite attractive. It's hardly spiritual a thing to do mind you, but definitely an attractive option for those who misunderstand what Christian spirituality involves, and evokes.

I found that I needed to learn over time to commune again with God in my own words, to be quiet and listen, to meditate and ask him to reveal his will for me.  It was a re-learning because going into tongues, letting the Spirit intercede, was quite a convenient way to avoid self expression.

Beg pardon? "Letting the Spirit" intercede?! Please let me disabuse you of a common Revivalist error: praying in "tongues" doesn't involve the Holy Spirit interceding on a person's behalf at all. In 1 Corinthians 14:14 Paul very clearly stated that prayer in "tongues" involves the human spirit (e.g. προσευχωμαι γλωσση το πνευμα μου), rather than the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, the oft (mis)quoted Romans 8:26 proof-text doesn't describe, or support, the practice of Revivalist/Pente "tongues" either. That passage teaches that the Third Person of the Trinity (i.e. the Spirit) directly intercedes before the First Person of the Trinity (i.e. the Father), and in a way that isn't mediated through any human agency or capacity (such as the human voice). What is involved is perichoretic communication: Spirit to Spirit.

By "a time of quiet confession" do you mean to honestly evaluate ourselves by acknowledgeing our sins and shortcomings to God?

Absolutely. See 1 John 1:8-10.

This I think is important in restoring and keeping us in proper fellowship with God who will continue his work of sanctification. It was an area which seemed to be overlooked in Revival Churches.

Indeed.

Being holy/sanctified/set apart was getting out of the world and belonging to a Revival Church and getting to meetings.  The term "no condemnation" was frequently used by Revival members and even many would say "we don't/cannot sin."

Yes, shameful and silly all at once!

Frequent confession to God is an interesting and perhaps misunderstood subject.  I was once told by a Revivalist that there is no need to confess anything because repentence has already happened.

No doubt. But how does such a view square with what James 5:16 teaches, for example? Perhaps there's a very obvious reason as to why healing is such a rare event in Revivalist assemblies?


Ian, would you mind elaborating a little more on the subject of confession in a believer's life and relationship with God.

Methinks a thread separate to this thread on fasting might eventually be in order.

Blessings,

Ian

email: didaktikon@gmail.com
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Re:Fasting

Date Posted:28/01/2010 10:47 PMCopy HTML

Good morning, Epi.

It's often rather disconcerting to discover just how deeply the Revivalist error has affected us! Hence the critical need to establish a cohesive and comprehensive personal theology: theology affects our beliefs; our beliefs influence our ethics; our ethics are exhibited in our behaviours (hence the credo, "bad root, bad fruit")  

Blessings,

Ian

email: didaktikon@gmail.com
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Re:Fasting

Date Posted:29/01/2010 12:30 AMCopy HTML

Hi Epi and Ian

I've come to the conclusion that everything I learned in the Revival Centre and then Revival Fellowship was eroneous in some way or other. The only good and true thing I can say I retain is a good knowledge of where the books of the bible are to be found and some sound friendships that have stood the test of being 'in' or 'out' of fellowship. Perhaps this is a bit cynical of me, but it allows me to see everything with fresh eyes. I do admit just how deeply ingrained and revival-esque my initial responses are still.

Onward and upwards I say - (sounding rather chipper).

Chips
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