Slideshow image

Fasting is typically connected to voluntarily going without food either one meal a day, or an entire day. It can also be abstinence from something that you like or enjoy. It’s a familiar spiritual practice for most of us, and we usually do it during Lent. But it’s also done at other times during the year, mostly when churches are praying and fasting for something in particular. It has other reasons and origins as well, that perhaps we are not as familiar with. Jesus told His disciples that certain kinds of demons can only be cast out by prayer and fasting (Mark 9:29). With this in mind, we should want to be very familiar with fasting, this type of prayer in our spiritual arsenal at all times.

Fasting is a tradition with ancient roots. Remember David’s fast prior to the death of his first child with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12), or Nineveh’s fast of repentance (Jonah 3). Prayer and fasting occurs several times in the New Testament as well. John the Baptist fasted in preparation for the coming of Christ (Mark 2). Jesus himself also fasted. Remember His 40 days of fasting in the desert at the start of his public ministry (Matthew 4), and his instruction to his disciples to pray and fast (Matthew 6). We also know fasting was a practice of the early Church (Acts 13 and 14).

St. Augustine once said: “Fasting cleanses the soul, raises the mind, subjects one’s flesh to the spirit, makes the heart contrite and humble, scatters the clouds of concupiscence, quenches the fire of lust and kindles the true light of chastity.”

Once you have decided to fast and pray, how should you do it?

  • Pick an intention. Why am I fasting and praying?
    Fasting is a great opportunity to offer a sacrifice on behalf of something. Consider offering your fast for something very particular. This will give you a reason for motivation and strengthen your resolve.
  • Start!
    When you begin your fast, invite God to be with you. Then, offer your fast for your chosen reason, ask for the grace to complete it and tell God that you accept whatever He chooses to do through it as a gift. If your fast happens at a specific time during the day, you can repeat your specific prayer each time during your specific meal fast. If not, you can repeat it each day of the fast during your normal time of prayer.
  • Keep it up!
    Fasting is not a test, it isn’t a “box to check”, and nobody is keeping score. This is prayer, and God calls us to faithfulness in prayer, not perfection in prayer. If you happen to break a fast or forget to do it, don’t quit or get discouraged. Simply recommit to your fast, return to your prayers, invite God into it, and continue as best as you can. Remember, God always wants to spend time with you, and He loves receiving your prayers and commitment to Him.

Love and prayers,

Dr. D.