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Comparative Theology, book by H. H. Pope Shenouda III
50- Reply to the objection concerning fasting in secret
There are two kinds of worship: individual and communal.
(a) In prayer for example, there is individual prayer; you pray in your room, to your Father who sees in secret. This does not cancel the existence of communal prayer for all the groups of believers to pray in one spirit, in one soul and in one voice. Examples of such prayers are numerous in the New Testament. One of these examples is the prayer of the believers after the release of Peter and John from prison: "So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said..." (Acts 4: 24).
Of course the Lord's commandment regarding praying in secret (Matt.6: 6) does not apply to such prayer.
(b) Likewise in charity, there is a charitable deed done in secret as an individual act in which you do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing (Matt.6: 3). But this does not cancel the general charity collected from everyone, as when King David collected donations to build the Temple. He mentioned in detail how much he contributed, and how much was contributed by the leaders of the fathers' houses, the leaders of the tribes of Israel, the captains of thousands and of hundreds, and the officers over the king's work (1Chr.29: 3-9). Another example is when the rich people put their gifts in the Temple treasury and the poor widow put in two very small copper coins (Lk.21: 1,2).
(c) Likewise in fasting, there is individual fasting practised in secret that does not cancel the general fast shared by the whole community of believers.
Reply to the objection: Is communal fasting a Biblical doctrine or not?
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