In the Bible we see many examples of Christian fasting, even before Christ walked the Earth. The first faster in the Bible was Moses. We also see the example of Christian fasting from Christ himself. While he was in the desert for forty days he ate nothing. This lead to the first of Satan's temptations, telling him to turn the rocks into bread so that he might eat.
Many Christians see Christian fasting as an object of willpower, being able to show that they can resist the temptation of eating and prove something of themselves. But this is not the purpose of what Jesus did. Yes, he resisted temptation, but those 40 days of fasting in the desert were not an opportunity for Jesus to show off his willpower, rather they were a time for Christ to enter into a place of deep spiritual connection with the Lord, away from the world and all that comes with it, including food.
Christian fasting has an important history in the United States of America, one that is not often discussed. Our first President, George Washington, often called for national days of prayer and fasting, so that the people of this country would remember to take the time out of their daily lives to remember that it is God who is the provider of all and to sit back and reflect upon their spiritual lives. Many other early presidents also called these days. Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, the hardest times this nation has ever seen, called national days of prayer and fasting.
Our Founding Fathers, for all the talk that modern atheists have done to attempt to prove to the contrary, understood the importance of faith and of always remembering the spiritual. To them Christian fasting was an important part of one's spiritual lives, and they had no problem in declaring national days of prayer and fasting. These are of course the precursor to our own National Day of Prayer today.
Why then, has fasting gone so out of fashion in the last 150 years? Many Christians have looked away from Christian fasting as a way of keeping in touch with the Lord, yet it is a vitally important tradition that has long held a place among Christians. Many Christians today in fact are rediscovering the important Christian and American tradition of fasting.
One of the more common modern forms of Christian fasting is the fasting retreat. This is a time when groups of people come together apart from their normal lives to partake in the spiritual discipline of fasting. Removing themselves bodily from their natural environment, this allows Christians the time to come together in fellowship and to concentrate on their spiritual connections with God, apart from the normal needs of this world.
Christian fasting has an important history not only in the Christian faith but also in the United States of America. Many Christian Americans are rediscovering this important part of our tradition. A fasting retreat is a great way to do this while receiving spiritual support from others.