Moses twice spent 40 days on Mount Sinai without eating or drinking, in mourning over Israel’s sin.
Jesus fasted 40 days in the wilderness, being tempted by the devil.
Today, the 40 days of fasting started last Feb 13.
Through the centuries, fasting continues to be the Christians’ act of humility before God, to seek His divine intervention in the events of our lives and in the world.
Fasting is the discipline of abstinence from food. It can also consist of eating very little or abstinence from certain foods.
But why do Christians fast?
Those who seek God through fasting can expect tremendous rewards for their personal lives as well as for any other intentions they pray for – breakthroughs in healing, finances, family relationships and freedom from some bad habit, addiction, or vice, or to share in the suffering of those who go without.
Twenty years ago, I fasted on Tuesdays and Thursdays for almost three months, just eating bread from 6am to 6pm, because I was seeking God’s healing for my husband who was stricken with cancer (though we weren’t told it was cancer then). He literally rose from his bed after that, got hired for a new job and lived for six more years more.
But is abstaining from meat enough to please God?
Basil the Great wrote: “Take heed that you do not make fasting to consist only in abstinence from meats. True fasting is to refrain from vice. Shred to pieces all your unjust contracts. Pardon your neighbors. Forgive them their trespasses…”
In short, we must also concentrate on spiritual matters. This Lenten season as we become less concerned with preparing meals and eating, let’s not think that fasting is not really eating less. Rather, it is more – more time to pray, seek God’s face, and repent. Let’s use our hunger to know God more, to reflect on how to become more like him and become the persons He wants us to be.
Because we deprive ourselves of the usual amount of food, the favorite things we do, and the activities we love to engage in, we are allowing the Holy Spirit to work in a most unusual, powerful way. If a glass is empty, you can put a lot of water and fill it up.
Fasting is more.
“It helps us concentrate on the Word of God to make it more meaningful, vital, and practical in our lives. It transforms prayer into a richer, more personal experience. It can help us regain a strong sense of spiritual determination and restore the loss of our first love for our Lord. “(http://www.salvationarmyusa.org)
But fasting need not be all that serious. Matthew 6:16 says: “Whenever you fast, don’t be sad-faced like the hypocrites. For they make their faces unattractive so their fasting is obvious to people.”
How can we make fasting a joyful experience?
When we fast, let’s accompany it with helping those in need. We can also give generously as we are able. When we immerse in giving out of our selves, our talent, time and treasure, we can receive the grace from God to feel good, happy and fulfilled.
As a last thought, I hope I have encouraged my children enough to fast. I hope they will continue to remember the miracle that happened to their late father when I fasted. I pray they pass on the proper way of fasting to their own children.
If we teach our children to fast properly, this will develop their spiritual strength to overcome greater temptations later in their lives.
I share with you St. Augustine’s prayer: “Come Lord, work upon us, set us on fire and clasp us close, be fragrant to us, draw us to your loveliness, let us love, let us run to you.”
Fasting opens our spirits to gain all these experiences with God. As we lose ourselves in fasting, we actually gain more.