Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter — when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? – Isaiah 58:6-7
The central idea in fasting is the voluntary denial of an otherwise normal function or activity for the sake of drawing closer to Christ. In the Bible, fasting is always associated with prayer and food. However, as Pope Francis points out, there are many things we can “fast” from in order to be closer to Christ – especially during the season of Lent. Richard Foster, in his book “Celebration of Discipline,” encourages Christians to fast from the following:
People – we have a tendency to devour people. Silence and solitude (disciplines we will explore later) can actually help us love people more.
Media – and the constant barrage of endless noise.
Cell phones – you do not have to answer every time someone calls or texts.
Billboards and Advertising – who determines what you need in this life to feel happy?
Consumer Culture – Consider using your buying power to do without and instead bless those in greatest need.
Fasting is a spiritual discipline ordained by God for the good of Christian fellowship. May God find our hearts open to his means of receiving grace.
Here are a few questions to ponder today:
1. What is the primary purpose of fasting?
2. How can fasting reveal what controls your life?
3. What is most difficult about fasting for you?
About Paula Renfro
Paula is the newest Lay Leader (2023) and serves as the Head of the Altar Guild.