Don’t Fast Like a Hypocrite; Pray Like Jesus

Rick Brannan

Jesus took time to make sure His disciples knew how to pray and fast (Matt 6:9–18); the Didache (8.2–3) shows us that early Christians took this advice seriously. They kept a pretty tight schedule: praying three times each day, fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays—but not Mondays and Thursdays, when hypocrites were known to fast. Aside from providing insights into the early church’s weekly schedule, the Didache also shows that early Christians were already interpreting and applying Gospel teachings by the latter half of the first century. This section (8.2–3) closely reflects the book of Matthew.


“Do not have your fasts with the hypocrites (Matt 6:16–18). For they fast on Mondays and Thursdays; but you should fast on Wednesdays and Fridays. Neither are you to pray as the hypocrites (6:5), but as the Lord commanded in His gospel, “Pray in this way: Our Father who is in heaven, may your name be holy, may your kingdom come, may your will be done as in heaven, so also upon earth; give to us today our daily bread, and forgive us our debt as also we forgive our debtors, and do not lead us into temptation but deliver us from the evil one, because yours is the power and the glory forever” (6:9–13). Pray in this way three times each day.”

Didache1—The early church fathers often spoke of a text they called “The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles.” Nearly all traces of the Didache were lost until 1873, when Philotheos Bryennios rediscovered the 1056 AD manuscript Codex Hierosolymitanius, which contained an edition of the text. The Didache is dated to the later half of the first century.

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Article courtesy of Bible Study Magazine published by Faithlife Corporation. Originally published in print, Vol. 4 No. 2

1. Didache 8, author’s own translation.