I have seen scripture where Jesus says "when you fast" but he never commands it. I never see it commanded.  Is it really necessary for us to fast today? Isn’t praying and Bible study more than adequate for being close to God?

Jesus said "when you fast," not "if you fast."  Therefore, he was assuming his hearers fasted.  Some have interpreted this to be tantamount to a commandment to fast.  I think that this may be taking it too far.  In the context, Jesus is speaking to a Jewish rather than a Christian audience.  The assumption that people fast is made of Jews, not Christians.  Are you required to fast in order to be a faithful Christian?  The simple answer is no.  There is no New Testament command to fast.  There is the example of fasting, but not a command.  Fasting is a spiritual discipline which was practiced widely by the early church.  We know this because it is mentioned in Acts.  We also know that communal fasting was practiced.  In other words, groups of Christians fasted together for a particular reason.  Therefore, there is no question that for a leadership in a church to call for a group fast is bibilical.  The real question is whether such a call for the group to fast is binding on all the members.  I say no it is not.  However, the Bible gives admonitions to submit to your leaders and their authority, because in doing that it makes their work a joy and it will help you to grow and have spiritual blessings (paraphrasing Hebrews 13:18).
I suppose praying and Bible study are "more than adequate" for being close to God.  My admonition is that I sense at least the possibiliby behind your words of a bad attitude and rebelliousness toward leadership in your church.  If I am wrong, then of course I apologize completely.  However, I believe it is possible that in this situation it is not the leaders who are on trial here but it is your spiritual health which is in question.  I suggest you consider getting behind the leadership of the church where you are at.  Is it required?  No.  Can you be a mature and fruitful Christian without fasting?  Absolutely you can.  The question is not whether it is required, but whether it will help the church as a whole and you as an individual Christian to grow.  I suspect that it would be a good thing to support the leaders in your church on this request.  However, if you have a physical reason you cannot fast, then, of course, you should hold back.  In either case, do not do it for legalistic reasons but because you love God.
John Oakes

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