Two Kinds of Fasts: A Holy Fast and an Unholy Fast

Two Kinds of Fasts: A Holy Fast and an Unholy Fast

A curious phrase pops up in the book of Joel: holy fast.

A Holy Fast

A fast is going without something, such as food, to draw closer to God. By implication it should be a holy act, so why does the prophet Joel make a point of specifying a holy fast?

I wonder if it might be because the people lost sight of why they were fasting. Perhaps they were going through the motions and forgot the God focus of their fast.

When done for the right reasons, a fast is a physical denial that elevates our spiritual awareness. When done for the wrong reasons, a fast is a physical denial that just makes us feel deprived, forgoing any spiritual benefit.

An Unholy Fast

I guess that would make it an unholy fast, secular and meaningless.

If You Fast

If you practice the discipline of fasting, may it be for the right reasons. If you’ve not experienced a fast, I encourage you to consider it.

Either way, may you fast well, may it be a holy fast.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Joel 1-3, and today’s post is on Joel 1:14 and Joel 2:15]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

2 Comments

  • Jennifer Allen Posted December 20, 2013 10:40 pm

    Great reminder, Peter! Many thanks!

    • Peter DeHaan Posted December 21, 2013 7:36 am

      Although talking about fasting right before Christmas and New Year’s Day may have been bad timing on my part!

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