For some in the world, this is a set time of fasting and charity, often publicly announced.  It has not gone down particularly well with a number of Frenchmen.  And nor did it last year in England when London mayor Boris Johnson encouraged people to fast along with their Muslim brethren.  As if he had never heard of Lent, our time of preparation for Christ’s Passion, Crucifixion and Resurrection?

What does our Lord Jesus Christ say about publicly announced fasting, alms and prayer?  Let us examine Matthew 6:1-8 (emphases mine):

1Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

 2Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

 3But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:

 4That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

 5And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

 6But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

 7But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

 8Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

He also has this to say in Matthew 6:16-18:

16Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

 17But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;

 18That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

I can empathise with those who are upset about the amount of publicity that Ramadan receives in the media, but let’s be happy that they don’t make such a big to-do over Lent.  We Christians don’t ask those from other faiths to wish us well in our quiet efforts during that time nor would we expect them to.  Nor would we ask that non-Christians join us in our time of penitence, prayer and fasting.