Over the last year, Alli and I had our baby boy and purchased our first house which means one thing. STUFF. EVERYWHERE. Not only do we have an obscene amount of toys and books and clothes and baby gadgets but we also want beds and couches and patio furniture and a ping pong table (that may only be one of us) to fill our new house. My life has been so inundated with stuff I’m starting to lose my mind (don’t listen to him, we’re fine!). As Lent approached and I thought about what I would do, I yearned for some sort of practice that would help me use less, need less, and want less. And then I remembered there is one; fasting.
Fasting is a practice that has a long, rich history is religious life that we often forget (or at least I do). Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Christianity (by this point in Lent we all remember Jesus fasted for 40 days) all practice fasting to help the spiritual life. Here is a short excerpt naming the richness of spiritual fasting:
“In Judaism, it is seen as a devotional path to purification, mourning, and atonement; in Christianity, it leads to mystical longing, liberation through discipline, and the work of justice; in Islam, it encourages Allah-consciousness, self-restraint, and social solidarity; in Hinduism, it involves purity, respect, and penance; in Buddhism, its aim is purity of body, clarity of mind, and moderation; and among Latter-Day Saints, its purpose encompasses offerings for those in want and strengthening the faith”
We often forget or neglect this spiritual practice because it stinks of asceticism and false piety. But if we are honest those are mere excuses. We know fasting is hard. We know fasting makes us confront and turn away from our sins. And we usually aren’t ready to take that big of a step against those sins we hold so dear. We are not ready to deny ourselves and become weak. Here is the truth: fasting makes us cling to Jesus, it acknowledges Him as king and Lord of our lives.
Part of my Lenten practice for this year is to dive into fasting, both reading and learning its history and purposes and also practicing to know its grace. The latter is difficult to describe, the grace from fasting is best understood through experience. So as we journey through the final weeks of Lent, I encourage you to practice a fast. If you are ready for a challenge and want to connect to the depths of the fasting tradition, abstain from food and drink for a day. There are plenty of ways for a day long fast; nothing for 24 hours (basic), nothing sun up to sun down(Ramadan), one normal meal and two small snack (Catholic), three meals with nothing in between, or any combination thereof. Alternatively, there are plenty of non-traditional fasts; abstain from the TV, phone or Facebook, avoiding judging others or complaining, exchanging a hobby for extra prayer or time in the Word. Figure out a fast that fits your spiritual life and give it a try for a couple hours, or a day, or a week, or the rest of Lent. You will be blessed.
By Sam Regonini
If you want to talk fasting with Sam or share your own experience, send him a message.