Is fasting mandatory for each member of the church or is it a personal choice ?
On our site we have many articles on this subject. One of them is ”What did Jesus Christ say about fasting”, an article which clarifies every misunderstanding on the question above.
The Bible does not establish a schedule for fasting. From the Scriptures, we understand that fasting is a necessity when we face troubles, and it is also a way to humble our hearts before God, so that our prayers be heard. There was only one compulsory fasting for everybody mentioned in the Bible. It was the fasting from the period of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which began with the Feast of Passover: during a week nobody was allowed to eat leavened bread.
In the first month you are to eat bread made without yeast, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day. 19 For seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And anyone, whether foreigner or native-born, who eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel. 20 Eat nothing made with yeast. Wherever you live, you must eat unleavened bread. (Exodus 12:18-20)
In the Bible, the leaven or the leavened bread symbolizes the sin, and in the New Testament, the apostle Paul, using this illustration, teaches us that being in the New Covenant with the Lord Jesus we do not have the right to sin and even to tolerate sin in the church, because it can multiply so easily and affect many people:
Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? 7 Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.(1 Corinthians 5:6-8)
If we return to our question: is fasting mandatory for each member of the church or it is a personal choice, I understand that you mean the situation when it was decided to fast with the whole church. In this case the fasting is compulsory. Such decisions are usually taken when there are serious problems. If it was decided to fast with the whole church, then the fasting is mandatory for each member. If someone finds it too harsh, I would like to make a reference to the decision taken by the king of Nineveh when he heard the news that God would destroy the city in 40 days:
When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.” When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.(Jonah 3:6-10)
I recommend you to study more about fasting from the Bible Studies ”The Sermon on the Mount”, ”Daniel” and ”Where are you Going?” (a study based on the book of Jonah)
Translated by Marcela Tasca