King's community welcomes the new semester with a day of fasting and prayer
Financial District, NEW YORK -- Is there ever a good reason to miss a meal? What about three? While your mind might immediately be drawn to finals week, there’s another time when King’s students are actually asked to forgo their meals: The Day of Fasting and Prayer. Established last year as part of the new King’s Liturgy, it’s meant to be another way for the college to unite as a spiritual community and reorient their priorities.
While prayer might be a fairly common practice for many King’s students, the idea of fasting might seem unusual to some. “Fasting is a discipline that has been neglected by believers,” said David Leedy, Dean of Students, “but it holds great promise for cultivating spiritual depth and vitality our relationship with Christ, and doing the same in the community.”
Fasting is found in many forms in the Christian faith, such as the Eucharistic Fast for Roman Catholics. The Book of Common Prayer outlines certain days for fasting and abstinence, and the Bible itself contains a wealth of references to the practice.
But, as is the danger with many ancient disciplines, the value can become obscured by time and the practice itself can lose emphasis. Fasting is particularly less common in the Protestant faith, which lacks the strict liturgical structure of the Catholic Church.
Despite this decline, fasting is just as relevant today as it was to the early Christian church. “It’s a way that we express our dependence on God and say ‘We need you,’” said Dean Leedy. “It’s about James 4:8, ‘Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.’ I think fasting is a way that we do that.”
The first Day of Fasting and Prayer was conducted last spring by the president of Spiritual Life at the time, Emily Collins ('14). Collins saw a need for the campus to refocus on God as our center. “Without him, we’re toast,” she said in an interview conducted via Facebook, “and I think we needed to show him we recognized that as a community.”
The Day of Fasting and Prayer is just one part of the new King’s Liturgy that aims to pump new life into the spiritual life at the college. “Thornbury has been a huge factor in [the spiritual renewal at King’s,]” commented Leedy, “but I think student leaders, The King’s Council, the fasting and praying and what’s happening with spiritual life… all these things work together to bring a new level of vitality to our community.”
Students met for a brief prayer meeting before classes at 8:30 a.m., during which Emily Collins led a small group of students in prayer, and President Thornbury gave a brief talk on the reasons for fasting. “Fasting allows us to reorient our senses,” Thornbury explained to the gathered students. He used the superhero Daredevil to describe how adjusting our senses can help us become aware of new things. “By reorienting our normal observations of looking at food, it opens us up to seeing what is happening in the Kingdom.”
At 12:30 p.m. students met again to hear a talk from Dean Leedy on prayer. Eric Velez ('15) led the group in a short worship session, and the meeting closed with group prayer. The day wrapped up at 7:30 p.m. with worship with the Refuge band and individual, group and corporate prayer. Prayer was led by Leah Stratton, Allison Lawrence, Peter Flemming and Jake Dinsmore. Students broke their fast together afterwards with a feast of granola bars and water.
If you missed it this time, you don’t have to wait until it rolls around again! Fasting can be an individual practice as well as a corporate one. If you decide to fast, make sure you drink plenty of water, get lots of rest, and most importantly, remember what – or rather, who – it’s for.