I am embarrassed to say it but I kind of hate fasting. My internal disposition is often more like wailing and gnashing of teeth. Over the years, I have whined and complained my way through many Fridays of Lent or fasting days throughout the liturgical year. And yes there have been times, I have chosen to blatantly ignore a day of fasting for that double cheeseburger with fries. Case in point? I do not like to die to myself, I want what I want when I want it.
Last month, I rang in the New Year at young adult conference with some friends of mine. While there, we heard a speaker that convicted me to the depths of my core on the power of fasting in the Christian life. The talk left me feeling very uncomfortable. You know how that works, when you cannot unlearn what you just learned. I was so moved it led me to seek out Confession shortly after to repent of my selfishness in this area. After, as I prayed and sat with Jesus, I knew He was calling me to deeper intimacy to Him by choosing fasting a regular part of my spiritual life.
Sisters, we find God in the deserts of fasting, not the desserts of feasting. Fasting is simply setting aside a worldly attachment in order to focus more on Christ. When we fast, we make more room for God in our lives. Our actions say, Jesus, You are more important to me than food or coffee or social media or Netflix. In fasting and abstaining, our desires, pride, lust, and attachments die, creating an opportunity to grow stronger in the Holy Spirit. (Of course, it’s important to make this choice from a healthy place and if you’re struggling with a positive relationship with food, choose a different fast.) What we choose to fast from isn’t the point so much as practicing self discipline and creating more space for the Holy Spirit.
If you aren’t already in a habit of regular fasting, pick one day each week to fast or abstain from something. Speak to a trusted confessor or priest if you’re not sure what would be a good choice.
Patty Breen is a runner, youth minister ordinaire, and thinks old movies are the greatest thing since sliced bread. When not fundraising for World Youth Day, she is learning to find grace in all things. You can find out more about her here.