Lent 2019 – Week Five

Pastor Margot Thompson

The Didache Chapter 8

Fasting – Prayers

1 Let not your fasts be with the hypocrites, for they fast on Mondays and Thursdays, but do you fast on Wednesdays and Fridays.

2 And do not pray as the hypocrites, but as the Lord commanded in his Gospel, pray thus: "Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy Name, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, as in Heaven so also upon earth; give us to-day our daily bread, and forgive us our debt as we forgive our debtors, and lead us not into trial, but deliver us from the Evil One, for thine is the power and the glory forever." 3 Pray thus three times a day. (from: Apostolic Fathers, Kirsopp Lake translator, 1912 (Loeb Classical Library))

Included in our devotional readings for this week is an excerpt from the ancient document called the Didache (did’-ah-kay’), or “teaching.”  Discovered in the nineteenth c. in Asia Minor (Turkey), it has been much studied.  Scholars have dated the document as early as 50 AD and as late as the 3rd c AD.  Though experts are not in full agreement, we know it is a very early Christian writing.  No author has ever been named.  It is not part of Holy Scripture. 

The Lenten journey we are making was part of the preparation of new believers in Jesus for baptism on Easter Morning.  Prayers were prescribed by church teachers three times a day – and fasting two days a week.  We moderns shy away from these disciplines, it seems to me, because we suspect anything that limits our personal freedom.  The beauty of Christian discipline is that, when gently and patiently applied, it frees us from bondage to our own rebellious nature.  By corralling and bridling our sinful nature, we may spend quality time with the Lord.

The reason for keeping the Christian disciplines is most of all to turn from worldly ways of thinking and behaving.  The Apostle Paul teaches that we must surrender to the Holy Spirit, so that we become peaceable and teachable (Romans 8:6-11, Devotions for Lent p 63).  The Holy Spirit is our best and most faithful teacher.  By Scripture reading, prayer, fasting, sacrificial giving and deeds of mercy we willingly and joyfully follow Jesus.  The keys here are joy and a peaceful heart.  Discipline is humbling, but not humiliating.  By the confession of our own weakness, we open the door of our lives to the working of God in every part of us.  If you choose to fast this week, no specific day is required!  The reference to days of the week in the quote above may have to do with pagan or judaiser customs.  Fasting one meal, fasting all day and eating dinner, or other partial fasts are welcome.  Drink about eight glasses of water on days you fast (and every day).  Please break your fast with a light meal to avoid gastric distress.


Welcome to Cornelius United Methodist Church.

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9:30 AM for worship

1095 S. Beech St.

P.O. Box 466

Cornelius, OR 97113