William Law’s View of Fasting

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, March 13, 2017

fasting, prayer, mountains

William Law’s View of Fasting

In the past, I loved classic religious and theological books. I read many of them in my teens, 20’s and 30’s. As soon as I picked up that book in my early 20’s, I found I loved A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life. I’ve read it through completely three times, and dipped into it several more, for partial reads.

So, when I read William Law’s name next in the chapter list of this current book, I got legitimately excited.

Law’s view of Matthew 6 fascinates me. His take on it is so practical. (Just as is much of his writing.) “Therefore the privacy of fasting does not suppose such a privacy as excludes everybody from knowing it, but such a privacy as does not seek to be known abroad.” [1] Law compares Jesus’s words concerning fasting to the situation with Cornelius in Acts 10. The centurion’s fasting was well known within his family. By Cornelius’s devout example, “his household were made devout themselves by continually waiting upon him, that is, by seeing and partaking of his good works.” [2]

Law considered legalistic devotion to the secret strictures of fasting a clear violation of the spirit of the words of Jesus. He understood that many people in his time had that absurd attitude, and he wanted his teaching to be crystal clear. As Richard Foster said, “by using Cornelius as his illustration Law gently causes readers—you and me—to examine their own legalisms by considering whom they might find unacceptable to God.” [3]

God willing, I can take Law’s (and Foster’s) words to heart. Please, Lord, help me follow these excellent interpreters of Your words.


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), 74.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 76.

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