But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting…
So said David. All God's faithful children, under every dispensation, have observed the same rule. So must each one now say, who hopes for the highest degree of blessedness hereafter. "Can none, then, be saved without fasting?" I have heard people sometimes ask. This question might be answered by another: "Can any be saved without praying?" The same authority has commanded the observance of both. But fasting is an unpleasant duty; and those who wish to escape from it, while they readily grant that it was practised by the Jews, deny that it is binding upon Christians. Did not our Lord fast forty days and forty nights, thus setting us an example of subduing the flesh to the Spirit, that in this way His "godly monitions" may be more perfectly obeyed? Do not the apostles tell us that they were "in fastings often"? Do they not enjoin it upon Christians to "give themselves to fasting and prayer"? "This may all be true," answers an objector, "but. why not leave it to each one to discharge this duty when he feels disposed, and why celebrate the fast of Lent, which sprung Up, perhaps, during the dark ages of the world?" In reply to the first question, I would merely say that if we wait until we feel in a humour to fast, we shall never fast at all. Hence the wisdom of the Church in appointing stated seasons (or it, when we are bound to attend to it, or prove ourselves unworthy and disobedient children. Our Saviour said to His disciples (Matthew 9:15). And from the earliest ages of the Church directions concerning this observance are found. But while it is expected of all to keep the fasts of the Church, all cannot observe them alike. The sick, or such as are just recovering their health, may not be able, perhaps, to abstain from food; and they who are obliged to toil hard for their daily bread, require more to sustain their strength than those whose lives are less active. But all should deny themselves in some way.
(John H. Norton.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom.