Fasting and Prayer 禁食与祷告

Fast

 

[Extracted from‘Living the Christian Year’ by Bobby Gross]

……    Even though we know fasting is found throughout the Bible, some of us have misgivings about the practice.We immediately picture ascetics going to great lengths to "mortify" their fleshin order to overcome temptationor to please God or to reach a mystical state.Fasting may strike us as a type of self-punishment that reflects a negative view of the body with its needs, appetites and capacities for pleasure. Or we may suspect in it an emphasis on works over against grace.

Yes,there can be distortions and abuses, but rightlyunderstood and practiced, fastingcan bring great dividends. Lynne Baab, in her book Fasting: Spiritual Freedom Beyond Our Appetitesprovidesthissimple definition: "Christian fasting is the voluntary denial ofsomethingfor a specific period of time for a spiritual purpose."In this respect fasting is much likesabbath-keeping: a restriction that creates spacefor God. In recent years many Christians have rediscovered fasting along with other ,long-neglected disciplines that can deepen and enrich us. After all, Jesus thought fasting important. In response to the devil's temptation to turn stones to bread, Jesus quotes Deuteronomy:

 [The Lord] humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were ac­quainted, in order to make you in from the mouth of the LORD. (Deut 8:3)

         Humbled by hunger, the Israelites in the wilderness and Jesus in the desert understood experientially their daily dependence on God for physical sustenance;more profoundly, they relied on God for the life that lies beyond biology, life for our souls, our selves."In him we live andmove and have our being,” affirms Paul (Acts 17:28). Hearing God's Word and doing God's will becomes food for us, teaches Jesus…..

          Fasting, then, is to deny ourselves food fora time in order to morevividly know Jesus as the source of oursustenance andbeing. It is to turnfrom the bread of the pantry to the bread oflife and in this humbler state to rediscover our deepest hungerand  remember  our truest food, Inthisway, fasting draws us closer to God…..

 

Fasting and Prayer Almost always fasting is linked to prayer in Scripture. Consider how fasting can enhance praying during Lent. First, it makes space for God, both in our hearts and in our schedules. It wanes us from our preoccupations and attunes us to God and his concerns. Fasting helps us listen to God. Practically we can convert the skipped meal times to prayer times. If we just put in an extra hour at our work desks, what have we gained?

Second, fasting in some mysterious way strengthens our prayers, both our faith in asking and our discernment in listening. It was during a time of fasting that the leaders at Antioch heard from God about setting apart Paul and Barnabas for missionary work. Fasting and prayer also preceded the day they were sent off (Acts 13:1-3). Throughout history Christians have attested to the power of fasting in connection with intercession, including prayers for healing.

 

 

禁食

[摘自’Living the Christian Year’pp.134-137Bobby Gross 著]

…尽管我们知道禁食在整本圣经中经常出现,我们当中有些人对禁食这种做法仍心存疑虑。我们马上想象禁欲主义者竭尽全力地“治死”他们的肉体为了克服诱惑,或为了讨神喜欢或想达到一个神秘的状态。禁食可能留给我们的印象是一种自我的惩罚,反映了我们对身体,其所需,所欲和欢悦的容量,具负面性的看法。或者我们可能会怀疑它(禁食)强调工作过于恩典。

           是的,禁食有可能被扭曲和滥用,但正确地理解和实践,可以带来巨大的回报。林恩Baab,在她的书《禁食:属灵的自由超出了我们的欲望》:”给禁食这个简单的定义:“基督教的禁食是在一个特定的时间内,为了属灵的目的,而自愿的拒绝一些东西。”在这方面,它很像是守安息日:是为了替上帝制造空间的一种限制。近年来,许多基督徒重新找回了禁食与其他,长期被忽视的属灵操练,可以深化和充实我们。毕竟,耶稣认为禁食是重要的。在回应魔鬼的诱惑,要他把石头变成面包时,耶稣引用了申命记:

“他苦炼你,任你饥饿,将你和你列祖所不认识的吗哪赐给你吃,使你知道,人活着不是单靠食物,乃是靠耶和华口里所出的一切话.”(申命记8:3)

       因饥饿而变得谦逊,以色列人在旷野,耶稣在沙漠中的经验中理解到在日常肉体所需对神的依赖; 更深奥的是,他们所依靠神的是生命,那超越生物学的,我们的灵魂的生命,我们的自我.”我们生活,动作,存留,都在乎他。”保罗这么肯定的说。(使徒行传17:28)听神的话语并遵行神的旨意成为我们的食物,耶稣这么的教导。…

       禁食,就是在一段时间里,拒绝食物以便更深切地知道耶稣是我们的生命和其中的支撑力的源头。这即是在厨房里的面包转变为生命的粮及在卑微的状态中,重新发现我们最深切的饥饿和记住我们最真实的食物。这样一来,禁食吸引我们更接近神。…

 

禁食与祷告
在圣经中禁食几乎总是与祈祷互有关联。想想看禁食如何在大斋期间加强祷告。首先,它为神制造了空间,无论是在我们的心中或者在我们的时间表。它戒除了我们所全神贯注的,并将我们转向与神及祂所关注的谐调。禁食可以帮助我们来聆听神。实际上,我们可以把吃饭所节省的时间利用来祷告。如果我们把额外的一小时用在办公桌,我们获得了什么?

第二,禁食在某种神秘的方式增强了我们的祈祷,包括了我们求问的信心和我们聆听的鉴别力。就正当他们禁食的时候,在安提阿的领导人听到神的吩咐要保罗和巴拿巴分头负责宣教工作。在他们被遣送之前的一天,他们禁食和祷告(使徒行传13:1-3)。纵观历史,基督徒已经证明与代求有关联的禁食的力量,这也包括病得到疗愈的祷告。…