Kuya Jojo, question po. Why do we publicly announce our prayer and fasting? Matthew 6:16-18 tells us to fast in secret. We also take pictures and post them on social media. Someone told me it looks a bit commercialized.
We announce the schedule for logistical purposes: to invite people to join in and to let everyone know the time and the place of our prayer meetings. The act of fasting is between you and God. That is the part that is meant to be private.
Matthew 6:16-18 talks about the posture of the heart during fasting. Roughly, the text means that when you fast, don’t try to make a show of it to make people think you are more spiritual. Instead, put on your usual cosmetics (anointing the head is the ancient equivalent of applying cosmetics) and look normal. The Father rewards genuine fasting. The caution is not in letting others know that you are fasting (your household cook must be informed at the very least) but in the reason why you feel the need to let them know.
If you carefully read the text, you will notice a bit of grammatical detail. The word ‘secret’ in verse 18 actually refers to God, not to the fasting. In Greek, the word translated ‘secret’ also means ‘invisible.’ If you factor that in, the verse actually means that the invisible God who sees what we do rewards the kind of fasting that is not done in hypocrisy.
About the pictures, well, you raised a good point there. That’s a very sobering observation although I think the context also gives us a bit of a clue. Do you post pictures to document meaningful life events or to appear spiritual? Is your post a simple expression of joy or an attempt to enhance your image so people would perceive you as godly?
Some people use social media as a photo album. Others use it to airbrush their public image. Churches often use social media to document events and give church members a hub for online interaction. The difference is in the motive of the heart. Sure, there will be people who will think you are showing off. That’s why for all our good intentions, we should also exercise caution and wisdom.