I am fasting today and it struck me that Muslims are not the only people in the world to fast. Christians and Jews are commanded to fast along with Muslims. However, coming from a Baptist Church as a child, I realized that I was completely ignorant of the way that Christians and Jews fast. (Our denomination did not practice Lent or any other organized fast, nor did they encourage us to fast on our own.)
Time to rectify the situation inshaAllah!!!
It seems that there are three basic categories of Christian Fasting:
1. Abstaining from one certain thing: like chocolate or coke or meat
2. Abstaining from all solid foods: Drinking only water (or for extended fasts, drinking water and juice, vegetable broth, decaffeinated tea, etc.)
4. Absolute fasts: abstaining from all water and food
Fasts can be for one meal, one day, one week, 40 days: you are encouraged to fast however much you feel you are being convicted to fast.
- The purpose of Christian Fasting is to humble yourself before God and to seek his pleasure. (To seek God's "face," as quoted from the Bible)
- Christian Fasting should be intimately connected with increased prayer and meditation on the scripture
- Fasting is prescribed in both the Old and New Testaments and Jesus says "when you fast" not "if you fast" in the New Testament.
- Fasting is a private concern and you should not advertise the fact that you are fasting to others around you.
Some things that seem different than Muslim Fasts:
- They do not necessarily have set times and procedures for fasting. They fast when they feel like it to whatever degree they feel like.
- You can be eating or drinking and still be considered "fasting" in some way.
- You can go through periods when you fast with no water or food, even through the night. You can usually fast up to 3 days without any food or water, but this should always be done under the observation of a doctor.
InshaAllah I will have another post up tomorrow about Jewish Fasting!