The Rev. Christian Clement-Schlimm, a Baptist priest, has put up an interview with a certain Chinglican – yours truly – on Anglicanism, the Book of Common Prayer, and fasting. I had a lot of fun being on his show, Christian’s Colloquy, and I hope you have as much fun watching. Here’s a bit about his show:
Christian’s Colloquy is a show committed to exploring the theology and history of the Church. Namely, learning from and engaging with the wisdom of the past to approach issues of the present. Special attention will be given to English & North American church history (from the Reformation through the Evangelical Revival), Caribbean spirituality, Baptist ecclesiology, and prayer.
Both for the Anglicans and for the non-Anglicans, I thought I would list below some classical Anglican resources that I might have mentioned in passing or that would be useful to those interested in learning more.
The 39 Articles of Religion, which are included in most every printing of the Book of Common Prayer, are – together with the 1662 Prayer Book proper and the 1660 Ordinal – the subordinate doctrinal standards of the Anglican tradition under the Bible. The standard Protestant high-church commentary, though at times it gives short shrift to what the author calls ‘Calvinism’, is Edward Harold Browne’s Exposition of the Articles.
The Prayer Book
J. I. Packer’s pamphlet The Gospel in the Prayer Book gives an evangelical interpretation of how the gospel is shown in the construction of the services in England’s 1662 Book of Common Prayer. While Packer’s pamphlet will not describe these offices together as a system, he does offer a concise and highly illuminating view of how the offices individually bring the gospel to the worshipper.
Thomas Comber’s multivolume devotional commentary on the Book of Common Prayer, written from the perspective of a high churchman teaching Dissenters to appreciate the Prayer Book devotionally, is probably the most extensive and detailed look at each of the parts of the Prayer Book offices, including even the exhortations in the Holy Communion service. This work, A Companion to the Temple, appears the following volumes: vol. 1, Morning and Evening Prayer; vol. 2, Of the Litany, with the Occasional Prayers and Thanksgivings; vol. 3, Of the Communion office, with the offices of Baptism, Catechism, and Confirmation; vol. 4, Of the occasional offices. Almost no one will want to read these straight through, but these are places to dip in wherever you want to enhance your appreciation and devotional use of the stuff in the Prayer Book, even one sentence or phrase. (Extras: vol. 5, History of liturgies, Discourse on the offices for Nov. 5, Jan. 30, and May 29; vol. 6, Of the ordination and consecration services; vol. 7, Exposition of the Lord’s Prayer, Discourse of excommunication, Dialogue about tithes.)
Charles Wheatley’s A Rational Illustration of the Book of Common Prayer, considerably shorter, tells us more about the historical development and use of the Prayer Book offices as a whole system.
George Herbert’s pastoral manual The Country Parson is about as well known and loved as Richard Baxter’s The Reformed Pastor. You can check out the whole thing, but I’ve linked to the practical part about fasting.
Lancelot Andrewes, in A Pattern of Catechistical Doctrine, breaks it down for you, into public and private fasting, and the reasons for each of those he breaks down further; he also explains the inward and outward parts of fasting.
Likewise Jeremy Taylor, in Holy Living, has a whole section of chapter 4 devoted to fasting.
On the history of Englishmen’s customs, John Wickham Legg’s English Church Life from the Restoration to the Tractarian Movement is a work I have found especially useful for observing what English Protestants did (and felt) for their fasting before the Romanizing trends that became popular in some quarters in the 19th and 20th centuries. The part on Lent especially has a good bit of information. Readers might also want to take a glance at John Wesley’s ascetic practice as described in Geordan Hammond’s John Wesley in America: Restoring Primitive Christianity (2014), 131–36.