Murray on Fasting


"Faith needs prayer for its full growth. And prayer needs fasting for its full growth. Prayer is the one hand with which we grasp the invisible; fasting, the other, with which we let loose and cast away the visible.


In nothing is man more closely connected with the world of sense, than in his need for food, and his enjoyment of it. It was the fruit, good for food, which man was tempted and fell in Paradise. It was with bread to be made of stones that Jesus, when hungered, was tempted in the wilderness, and in fasting that he triumphed. The body has been redeemed to be a temple of the Holy Spirit; it is in body as well as spirit, it is very specially, Scripture says, in eating and drinking, that we are to glorify God.


But then there is also its more literal meaning. Sorrow and anxiety cannot eat: joy celebrates its feasts with eating and drinking. We are creatures of the senses: our mind is helped by what comes to us embodied in concrete form; fasting helps to express, to deepen, and to confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, to sacrifice ourselves, to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God.


Prayer is the reaching out after God and the unseen; fasting, the letting go of all that is of the seen and temporal.


Is the prize not worth the price? Shall we not give up all to follow Jesus in the path He opens to us here; shall we not, if need be, fast?"

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