Saturday, February 9, 2013

10 Things You Should Know About Fasting (Ash Wednesday/Lent 2013)

1.         Fasting is the natural, inevitable response of a person to a grievous sacred moment in life. These moments maybe found in personal grief, distress, repentance or petition.  These grievous sacred moments also maybe communal and kept through established liturgical days or seasons.             

2.         Fasting means to deny oneself of food and possibly water for a time in response to a sacred moment.  The length of the fast maybe brief such as a sunrise to sunset, or a twenty-four hour period; Moses, Elijah, and Jesus fasted forty days. 

3.         Fasting is not abstinence, which is a choice not to eat or drink specific items even though one is still eating and drinking other items. 

4.         Fasting is not a diet or a health regimen.  Nevertheless, fasting must be done intelligently and in-line with sound medical principles. Many groups of persons should not fast. 

5.         Fasting is found in all the great world religions and philosophies, especially in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.  The Bible mentions fasting over 70 times. 

6.         Fasting is not a manipulative tool that guarantees results; it is not a behavior we invoke to get something we want.  ‘God, I fasted; you owe me.’  Fasting is about food!  Be aware that some may attempt to misuse fasting as a form of political protest, such as a carbon fast.  Christians are admonished to fast secretly rather than seeking public notice; therefore fasting as a fund raiser, even for a good cause, is suspect. 

7.         Fasting can liberate us at the deepest level; the tendency is to think that God will love us if we change, but God loves us so that we can change. 

8.         Fasting is an ancient spiritual discipline that calls us to recognize the sacredness of the body. It is not acceptable to believe the body is a monster of desires that needs to be tamed, or a celebrity that needs to be glorified, or a cornucopia which needs to be filled, or a wallflower to be ignored.    

9.         Fasting on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and during the Season of Lent is a voluntary practice of committed Christians; additionally many persons of faith fast on the other Fridays of the year and prior to receiving Communion.    

10.       Fasting does not have to accompany prayer but prayer must always accompany fasting. 


  1. Gary, thank you: an excellent and useful summary and one that is clearly being appreciated.

  2. Thank you Gary !!! A great summary on fasting !!!

  3. Fasting is what happens when I am going in for a blood draw at the lab. The question is: "Are you fasting?"

    Answer: "Absolutely." This may also be an occasion of prayer.

    In any case, it is a part of our life.

  4. Very helpful Gary. A good reminder of an appropriate Lenten discipline