Love Fasting

Love Fasting

Return to our Way of Life

Fasting is a gift. The love of fasting is a divine work of God within us. There are things we can only experience and discover through fasting. As we regularly abstain from all food and nourishment, God will be with us. He will help us love fasting.

To be a monastic is to dedicate your life to prayer. Fasting is a completely unique and all encompassing way to pray. The way we embody prayer through fasting is unlike any other kind of prayer. We choose to empty our bodies and depend on God. In our emptiness and weakness we must rely on God even more. We abstain and give up what sustains our lives to be with the one who gives life.

There are different kinds of fasting in Scripture. There are times and places for the various types of fasting. For our way of life we turn to a kind of fasting Jesus spoke about. The disciples of John the Baptist had asked Jesus why His disciples didn’t fast. The response that Jesus gave was about presence. Those with Jesus were not fasting because they were present with Him. Yet, there was a time coming when Jesus wouldn’t be physically with them. At that time, they would fast.

We fast because Jesus is not physically here with us. There is something that happens when we begin fasting weekly. There is a presence we experience with God that we cannot experience in a different way. At the center of all our fasting is a closeness, intimacy, and companionship with God. This is the reason we establish a rhythm of weekly fasting to be with Jesus.

As we fast, we confront our most fundamental biological desire – to eat. We cannot expect to grow in mastery of ourselves if we cannot master our hunger. Fasting is a school of endless lessons. The lessons we learn are intimately intertwined with our bodies, lives, relationships, and God. As our bodies empty we discover who we are without the most fundamental comfort in life. When our bellies are full and life is going well it is far easier to put on the fruit of the spirit. It is far easier to put on love. With our bodies empty we can take stock of the natural presence of the Fruit of the Spirit within. Let us prayerfully accept all that we truly are, and in faith pray for who we may become.

In fasting, we reject the dualism that tells us that only the spiritual matters. We choose to look at our physical bodies in their empty state and affirm, together with God, that creation is good. We accept that every sensation our bodies experience is a part of our whole self. That the body of Jesus is just like mine. He felt hunger just like me. Our bodies are good, and pleasing to God. Even after the resurrection Jesus was in a body that felt and could be touched. We affirm in fasting that our bodies matter. In that last day our bodies will be remade when we are resurrected like Christ was. We fast because we have hope for today, tomorrow, and forever.

So we fast. We make it a weekly part of our life to fast. We privately fast, without broadcasting it to the world. We fast for us. Fasting will not give you power over anyone. Instead, prayerful fasting invites you to a place of humility and brokenness. This is similar to the humble posture we see in Jesus, who came not to be served but to serve. With time God will give you a love of fasting. To love fasting means to love the wholeness of the experience of fasting. Fasting is a gift. The love of fasting is a gift. Let us ask God, who gives good things to those who ask.

There is grace and accommodation when you physically are unable to fast without risk or harm. This situation may be temporary or permanent. Instead, we invite you to abstain in place of a weekly fast. This is a different practice from fasting. We should approach it with different expectations. Due to what fasting is, there are things it can show us that abstaining cannot. Consider how you will adapt and change what you abstain from over time. In all things, remember and treasure God’s grace and mercy.

Invitations to Engage

  • Reflect on the negative and impulsive things you have noticed within yourself when fasting. Pray over each thing God shows you.
  • Plan time to seek out the presence of God on the days that you set aside for fasting.
  • Read the accounts of fasting in scripture. What types of fasting do you see, and how are they similar and different?
  • What would it look like for God to invite you to an extended fast of at least 4 days?
  • Reflect on how you can establish a weekly rhythm of fasting that does not reveal your fasting beyond your household.
  • Meditate upon how naturally the Fruit of the Spirit flows from you and invite God to grow within you what parts of the Fruit you feel are lacking.
  • How do you experience the presence of God when you are fasting?
  • How do you experience your true self when you are fasting? What surprises you about who you really are in your hunger and emptiness?
  • What is something God has taught you through regular fasting?
  • Would you say that you currently love fasting? Why or why not?
  • What have you experienced or discovered only through your fasting?

Meditations on this Rule