On Fasting: Fasting for a time or fasting for a purpose?

In his role as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, General George Washington acknowledged a day of “fasting, humiliation and prayer” proclaimed by the Continental Congress to be held on Thursday, May 6, 1779. This has since been shortened to The National Day of Prayer  and is an annual day of observance held on the first Thursday of May, designated by the United States Congress, when people are asked “to turn to God in prayer and meditation“. Each year since its inception, the president has signed a proclamation, encouraging all Americans to pray on this day.

Gone is the humiliation aspect. It wasn’t as bad as it sounds nowadays, to Abraham Lincoln in 1863 it meant: Whereas it is fit and becoming in all people at all times to acknowledge and revere the supreme government of God, to bow in humble submission to His chastisements, to confess and deplore their sins and transgressions in the full conviction that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and to pray with all fervency and contrition for the pardon of their past offenses…

On May 15, 1776, Gen. George Washington ordered:

“The Continental Congress having ordered Friday the 17th instant to be observed as a Day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer, humbly to supplicate the mercy of Almighty God, that it would please Him to pardon all our manifold sins and transgressions, and to prosper the arms of the United Colonies, and finally establish the peace and freedom of America upon a solid and lasting foundation; the General commands all officers and soldiers to pay strict obedience to the orders of the Continental Congress; that, by their unfeigned and pious observance of their religious duties, they may incline the Lord and Giver of victory to prosper our arms.”

Times have changed: The 2015 National day of prayer can be simplified to Obama asking for God’s continued guidance, mercy, and protection as we seek a more just world. 

Today, the aspect of humiliation is gone. Well, not altogether.

During a speech to Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, Hillary Clinton lamented that white Americans have a long way to go in realizing all the ways they’ve been given unfair advantages over the nation’s minority populations.

“White Americans must do a much better job of listening when African-Americans talk about the seen and unseen barriers you face every day,” she said. “We need to recognize our privilege and practice humility rather than assume our experiences are everyone else’s experiences.”

So, I guess humility is not totally dead, it seems to be one of her strong points.

But I wanted to discuss fasting. 

Do we fast, and if so, why do we fast?

Let us see what scripture says about the subject. In Zechariah 7:4-5 the  prophet wrote: Then the word of the Lord of hosts came to me, saying,  “Say to all the people of the land, and to the priests: ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months during those seventy years, did you really fast for Me—for Me? 

This was a fast for a time.  The Muslim world holds a hard fast every Muslim year during the month of Ramadan, their 9th month, and since Islam is a lunar based religion with 12 lunar months making one year, Ramadan occurs 11 days earlier every year. This fast is to commemorate the revelation of the giving of the five mandatory contact prayers to be prayed by everybody at very specific times. As an example, the noon prayer must be started 2 min after the sun is in its zenith. To start it any earlier might offend Allah. This is not really a true fast, it is corporate mind control.

So, what is a true fast? In Isaiah 58:3-6 the prophet writes:

‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen?
Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?’

“In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure,
And exploit all your laborers.
 Indeed you fast for strife and debate,
And to strike with the fist of wickedness.
You will not fast as you do this day,
To make your voice heard on high.
 Is it a fast that I have chosen,
A day for a man to afflict his soul?
Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush,
And to spread out sackcloth and ashes?
Would you call this a fast,
And an acceptable day to the Lord?

 “Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not hide yourself from your own flesh?

Jesus adds a new dimension to fasting. I Matthew 6:16-18 Jesus says:

 “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.  But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,  so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

Jesus says, when you fast, not if. We are urged to fast, individually, not as part of a group fasting in solidarity, but to seek God’s face, in other words, fast for a purpose.

As we fast, let us fast and pray for a purpose as is stated in 2 Chronicles 7:14

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

 

Taliban, ISIS, NAACP. What’s the difference? A Limerick.

ancient-buddhas-destroyedAs the Taliban, ISIS are doers.

NAACP are hem-and-hoers.

“Destroy history! Blast!”

“And forget our past,”

and repeat it as doomsdaying wooers.

The pictures tell the stories.:

Top: Taliban destroys ancient Buddha carvings.

Next: ISIS destroys the Muslim Tomb of Jonah, not

JonahTomb blowupthe Jewish tomb of Jonah.

Next: MLK day in Columbia, South Carolina 2011.

Prominent at that location is a large bronze statue of George Washington. That year, the NAACP constructed a “box” to conceal the Father of His Country from view so that participants would not be offended by his presence.

Bottom picture: NAACP proposes to sand blast the carvings of President Jefferson Davis and Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson from Stone Mountain.

 

What is the difference? The means and ideology are different,

but the thought process the same.

stonemtn071715Will we ever learn?

BoxedinGeorge1

 

Obama’s 2011 Thanksgiving proclamation vs. George Washington’s 1789 proclamation. A contrast.

 Left: President Obama at second swearing in ceremony in the White House. Notice the absence of the Holy Bible.

Things like that are not important to this President.

Obama’s 2011 Thanksgiving Proclamation: One of our Nation’s oldest and most cherished traditions, Thanksgiving Day brings us closer to our loved ones and invites us to reflect on the blessings that enrich our lives. The observance recalls the celebration of an autumn harvest centuries ago, when the Wampanoag tribe joined the Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony to share in the fruits of a bountiful season. The feast honored the Wampanoag for generously extending their knowledge of local game and agriculture to the Pilgrims, and today we renew our gratitude to all American Indians and Alaska Natives. We take this time to remember the ways that the First Americans have enriched our Nation’s heritage, from their generosity centuries ago to the everyday contributions they make to all facets of American life. As we come together with friends, family, and neighbors to celebrate, let us set aside our daily concerns and give thanks for the providence bestowed upon us. Though our traditions have evolved, the spirit of grace and humility at the heart of Thanksgiving has persisted through every chapter of our story. When President George Washington proclaimed our country’s first Thanksgiving, he praised a generous and knowing God for shepherding our young Republic through its uncertain beginnings. Decades later, President Abraham Lincoln looked to the divine to protect those who had known the worst of civil war, and to restore the Nation “to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.” In times of adversity and times of plenty, we have lifted our hearts by giving humble thanks for the blessings we have received and for those who bring meaning to our lives. Today, let us offer gratitude to our men and women in uniform for their many sacrifices, and keep in our thoughts the families who save an empty seat at the table for a loved one stationed in harm’s way. And as members of our American family make do with less, let us rededicate ourselves to our friends and fellow citizens in need of a helping hand. As we gather in our communities and in our homes, around the table or near the hearth, we give thanks to each other and to God for the many kindnesses and comforts that grace our lives. Let us pause to recount the simple gifts that sustain us, and resolve to pay them forward in the year to come.

 NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 24, 2011, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage the people of the United States to come together whether in our homes, places of worship, community centers, or any place of fellowship for friends and neighbors to give thanks for all we have received in the past year, to express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own, and to share our bounty with others. IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this sixteenth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.

God is not mentioned until the second paragraph, where He is referred to as a generous and knowing God. The original 1621 Thanksgiving celebration is now referred to as a feast which only purpose was to thank the Wampanoag tribe. Nothing could be more incomplete. While they did invite and thank the Indians, the primary object of their thanksgiving was the Sovereign and Almighty God for his bountiful provision.

Compare this 2011 proclamation with:  George Washington’s 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to “recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:” Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becomming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us. And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best. Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October, A.D. 1789.

This reminds me of a famous quote from Fiddler on the roof: Chava: The world is changing, Papa! Tevye: [rounding on her] No! [calmly] Tevye: No. Some things do not change for us. Some things will never change.

And so it is: God is still God Almighty and Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)