For over a thousand years, fasting was one of the central practices of the Way of Jesus. Similar to essential spiritual disciplines like prayer or the reading of Scripture or church on Sunday, fasting was simply one of the things that practicing Christians did. After all, Jesus began his life’s work with 40 days of fasting, a practice he continued throughout his lifetime. And he said, “Follow me.”
And yet, very few followers of Jesus in the modern West fast at all. There are all sorts of reasons for this. But the greatest reason is likely the West’s emphasis on the mind over the body. This focus on rational thought has given us all sorts of breakthroughs in science, medicine, and technology, but it has left us disembodied; we’ve lost sight of the human as a whole person — mind and body and soul.
Over 4 weeks, we will cover the four reasons we fast:
1. To offer ourselves to Jesus
2. To grow in holiness
3. To amplify our prayers
4. To stand with the poor
But remember: The ultimate aim of fasting is to get in touch with our hunger for God. Hunger is the state of wanting or needing something you do not have. When we fast, we awaken our body and soul to its deep yearning for life with the Father. We become able to say with Jesus, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” (John 4:32)
Important Note: Food is complicated. At least 9% of the world's population are affected by eating disorders and 9% of the U.S. population will have an eating disorder in their lifetime. Please feel the invitation and freedom to approach fasting in a way that is healthy for you and your relationship to food. (This may mean not fasting from food.) If you are struggling in this area, please contact a professional to help find support.
If you want to explore how to fast in a healthy way and to dismantle false beliefs about food and dieting, we recommend these podcast episodes from Kendall Vanderslice at the Edible Theology Project:
And from Practicing the Way: Fasting: Our Relationship to Food, Body, and Image
Ready for the Fasting Practice?