A fast is not a hunger strike. Fasting submits to God’s commands. A hunger strike makes God submit to our demands. – Edwin Louis Cole
It is not easy to begin fasting in summer. Abstaining from food can be difficult when days are longer and your food intake is limited from sundown to sundown. It is much easier to begin a daily fast for Christ in December when we celebrate His birth and the days are shorter.
So what do you do if you want to fast for Christ in the spring or summer but have never fasted before – ever. Don’t take the whole thing in one big crunch. Instead take it one meal at a time. Start at 5 p.m. on the eve of the Sabbath and end at 5 a.m. Yes, you are not eating while you sleep. This makes the first fast easier. You’ll spend less time watching the clock.
To appease the fear of what is coming… an empty stomach, avoid the desire to stuff yourself with food before 5 p.m. Instead eat a healthy snack or light supper. Enjoy this meal and this time with quiet reflection as to the true purpose of the fast. If you wake in the night with hunger pains drink some water and let the hunger be a reminder to pray. This habit of praying through the hunger pains will serve you well as you increase the time of your fast.
“Fasting cleanses the soul, raises the mind, subjects one’s flesh to the spirit, renders the heart contrite and humble, scatters the clouds of concupiscence, quenches the fire of lust, and kindles the true light of chastity. Enter again into yourself.”–Saint Augustine
DON’T punish yourself if you feel you must eat something. It is o.k. to not be perfect. Use the smack to remind yourself that God wants us to be nourished, thriving and healthy not empty, starving and longing.
When you wake in the morning try to avoid rushing to the refrigerator to fill the void. Instead rush to your scriptures or your favorite daily meditation to spend time in God’s word and in His presence. When you do sit down to eat thank God for the strength He has given you to persevere in your quest to know Him. Center yourself and carefully prepare a meal that both glorifies God and nourishes your body. When you begin to eat remember the sacrament of the Lords Table.
Mark 2: 18 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” 19 Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20 The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.
After a few weeks of successfully fasting through the night slowly begin to increase the time of your fast. Wait until noon to eat. Next, give yourself until 5 p.m. on the day of the Sabbath and finally by summer when the days are the longest it may be possible for you to fast from sundown to sundown.
“There is both a physical and a spiritual fast. In the physical fast, the body abstains from food and drink. In the spiritual fast, the faster abstains from evil intentions, words and deeds. One who truly fasts abstains from anger, rage, malice, and vengeance. One who truly fasts abstains from idle and foul talk, empty rhetoric, slander, condemnation, flattery, lying and all manner of spiteful talk. In a word, a real faster is one who withdraws from all evil.” – –Saint Basil
May God be glorified by your fasting.