The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. -Jesus in Mark 2.
Fasting is an ordinance of God that is much neglected in the Church of Jesus Christ today. The Scriptures say a lot about the ordinance of fasting, but what is it? I think that the Reformed Presbyterian Church has helpful information within the Standards of the Church. Hear from the Larger Catechism, Reformed Presbyterian Testimony, as well as the Directory for Public Worship for meditation material on fasting. The Pacific Coast Presbytery of the RPCNA will be fasting on June 4, 2011. Please see this guide for praying for the Pacific Coast Presbytery.
Question 108: What are the duties required in the second commandment?
Answer: The duties required in the second commandment are, the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire, all such religious worship and ordinances as God has instituted in his Word; particularly prayer and thanksgiving in the name of Christ; the reading, preaching, and hearing of the Word; the administration and receiving of the sacraments; church government and discipline; the ministry and maintenance thereof; religious fasting; swearing by the name of God, and vowing unto him: as also the disapproving, detesting, opposing, all false worship; and, according to each one's place and calling, removing it, and all monuments of idolatry.
Reformed Presbyterian Testimony 21.7
Religious fasting is an ordinance of God in which the believer voluntarily abstains from food for a season for the purpose of seeking the will of God, strength for service or deeper spirituality. It should be accompanied by meditation, self-examination, humiliation before God, confession of sin, repentance and renewed dedication to a life of obedience.
Directory for Public Worship 4.2
In Christian fasting, as an ordinance of God, the believer voluntarily abstains from food or some ordinary pleasure for a season for the purpose of seeking the will of God, strength for service, or deeper spirituality. It should be accompanied by meditation, self-examination, humiliation before God, confession of sin, repentance and renewed dedication to a life of obedience.
A fast day may be marked by a service of public worship. In such services, it is fitting that psalms of penitence be sung, along with the offering of prayers of confession of sin and petitions for pardon.
If the civil authority calls for a time of prayer and fasting that is in harmony with the Scriptures, Sessions may encourage the people of God to pay due respect to that call. Besides such general occasions, there may be times when families and individuals, for their own reasons, give themselves to prayer and fasting for a season.
Special days of fasting, humiliation and prayer are particularly appropriate when God’s judgments are evident in the land, or when corporate sin in church or nation provokes the Lord and invites His judgments. It is appropriate that such days be observed in connection with services preparatory to the Lord’s Supper or on days designated by Sessions, Presbyteries, and Synods for this purpose.