UMC.org has a short article on what the UMC says about fasting. I’m not sure that fasting for spiritual reasons is practiced much among United Methodist laity. I’m not sure it is practiced much among the clergy either. Here is a section from UMC.org:
Fasting has been a part of Methodism from it’s early beginnings. John Wesley considered fasting an important part of a Christian’s life and he personally fasted weekly. To Wesley, fasting was an important way to express sorrow for sin and penitence for overindulgence in eating and drinking. He believed it allowed more time for prayer and was more meaningful if combined with giving to the poor. Wesley did advise caution against extreme fasting and against fasting for those in fragile health.
If your health permits I do recommend fasting for a few reasons: 1) It is biblical, 2) it is part of a Wesleyan tradition, 3) it is part of our Christian tradition, and 4) it teaches us to say no to our desires. I’m sure I could come up with a few more reasons.
Wesley practiced fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays. Later in life he just fasted on Fridays. Whatever day you choose, make sure to keep in mind that the fast is “unto the Lord.” Fasting is not some merit badge. If we fast for any other reason than to seek God then our fast is misguided.
For most of us, food is readily available. Fasting can be a powerful practice within a culture that focuses on the fulfillment (even immediate fulfillment) of desires, nutritional or otherwise.
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