In the past five years, a sizable number of American Protestants, both evangelical and mainline, have greatly increased their involvement in the spiritual practice of fasting. evangelicals.
Christianity Today (April 5) reports that fasting for specific periods of time is claimed to enhance believers’ awareness of profound spiritual searching. Books on fasting have been best-sellers among evangelicals and mainline Protestants. A Campus Crusade for Christ conference on Fasting and Prayer attracted over 2,000,000 readers on the Internet at 4,100 satellite sights. The U.S. Prayer Track program has drawn over l0,000 inquirers interested in fasting and prayer.
Recognized leaders such as Bill Bright, Jerry Falwell and Ronnie Floyd have added their personal involvement and endorsement to those seeking renewal through formalized prayer and fasting. The article adds that teenagers are fasting in “record numbers” giving the entire movement more “depth and unifying character.” World Vision tells of significant numbers of teens fasting annually during its 30-Hour Famine.
Beyond that, observers notice the fasting movement is attracting fresh support within ecumenical movements throughout city movements, crossing denominational lines and attracting new cooperative arrangements between denominational and parachurch programs. With some exceptions, most evangelicals go anywhere from 24 hour regiments to 40-day fasts using only liquids. Falwell reports he lost some 82 pounds on his fast.
Observers suggest the prayer/fasting emphasis reflects the growing concern among Protestants to find new ways to express their ongoing spiritual quest for meaning and personal discipline.
— By Erling Jorstad