Fasting, According to Augustine

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, March 12, 2017

St. Augustine mosaic

Fasting, According to Augustine

Another view on fasting, and a fascinating view, at that. Augustine was a brilliant teacher of rhetoric before his conversion. He brought that well-honed skill at debate and discussion into his life as a Christian, too. Here he describes fasting, referencing Matthew 6 (where Jesus gives directions on fasting).

I was so struck by one statement of his: “It is evident from these precepts that our entire striving is to be directed toward inward joys, to keep ourselves from seeking outward rewards and becoming conformed to this world.” [1]

Directed toward inward joys—while fasting. Wow! Inward joys! What a different point of view about fasting. Augustine tells his readers that they ought to oil their hair. Oil was celebratory, Jesus said to anoint ourselves (or, something comparable, given each different culture) and that is what people who fast regularly ought to consider doing.

A second statement hit home, too. “With the same intent he will be washing his face, that is, cleansing his heart whereby he is to see God, with no veil intervening.” [2] The concept of the veil (seen worn by Moses after he came down from the mountain) is fascinating: not only should the one who fasts do so with a joyful heart, but moreover, there will be nothing—no go-between, no nothing—acting as a separation or a mediator between us and God. (How awesome is that?) We have direct access to God.

And, that’s just a sample of what Augustine said in this pamphlet. There are other riches here, too. What a jam-packed statement. Let’s pray.

Gracious God, You truly are gracious, merciful and awesome. Continue teaching me—us—on how to come to You in prayer and fasting. In Jesus precious name we ask these things, amen.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er.

[1] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 68.

[2] Ibid, 69.

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