We have access to so much food these days -- and I love it all. I don?t really discriminate against any food. I like carbs, saturated fat, salt, sugar, and things that combine all of those.
Since prayer and fasting are part of the 40 Days for Life campaign, I get asked this question a lot: What should I fast from?
My answer is always the same: I don?t know; that is up to you and God.
What I do know ? as a lover of food ? is that fasting is difficult but fruitful.
Never have we had so much access to food yet needed fasting as we in our culture do today. Fasting gives us freedom to refocus on what is truly important ? dependency upon God.
God has always called His people to fast. Jews, Catholics, Protestants and Evangelicals alike practice fasting -- and there are resources that will help you discern how you should fast.
We don?t have to be experts but we do need support if we want to fast in order to grow closer to God and conform our will to His.
Fasting is NOT a competition or a diet or something to tell everyone that you are doing.
Other people fasting should inspire us to fast -- without us feeling the need to copy their exact fast. If someone gives up sweets, you shouldn?t feel that you need to give up sweets and raise them caffeine.
Our Lord makes it clear that he doesn?t want us sharing our fasts with the world. ?When you fast anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret.? (Matthew 6:17-18).
Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness and was tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1-11).
Our intentions in fasting during a 40 Days for Life campaign can be for the moms scheduled to have abortions, for the babies who were lost to abortion -- that they not be forgotten -- or for the conversion of the abortion workers.
If we can't make it to a vigil, fasting can be a great w,ay of participating in the campaign and can be done from anywhere. If you are unable to go to a vigil fast for those praying outside abortion centers around the world -- particularily those who are being persecuted and those who are out there in the middle of the night.
You?re not alone in fasting
If you?re like me you need all the help you can get! Right now during 40 Days for Life tens of thousands of people have taken on some kind of fast. Here are five quotes to encourage and inspire you as you continue to discern your fast on behalf of those lost to abortion.
- Pastor Ronnie Floyd, author of The Power of Prayer and Fasting: ?It is amazing to see what God does when He aligns your spirit with the Holy Spirit of God. Nothing does this like fasting. Your mind, will, emotion, and body fight against fasting. But when God leads you to fast, your spirit comes alive. You are automatically more in tune with God and His Spirit. You begin to see what He wants you to see, feel the way He wants you to feel, and sense what He wants you to sense.?
- St. Gregory the Great: ?It is impossible to engage in spiritual conflict, without the previous subjugation of the appetite.?
- John Henry Newman: ?Prayer and fasting are wings of the soul. He who does not pray nor fast can never really follow Christ.?
- St. John Climacus: ?Fasting is the coercion of nature ? the excision of lust, the uprooting of bad thoughts, purity of prayer, the light of the soul, the guarding of the mind, deliverance from blindness, glad contrition, a cessation of chatter, a cause of stillness, a guard of obedience, health of body, remission of sins, the gate of Paradise and its delight.?
- Pastor Rick Warren on the importance of fasting: ?Fasting demonstrates the depth of your desire when praying for something. It shows you that you are serious enough about your prayer request to pay a personal price. God honors deep desire and praying in faith.?
Fasting reminds us of how weak we are and how much we need God. Through fasting, He works with our weakness to help us give more of ourselves to Him.
In this way, fasting during a 40 Days for Life campaign is truly a gift from God. It helps us forget ourselves and remember those who are often forgotten and discarded. The victims of abortion will never have the opportunity to fast; but we can remember them and thank God for their short lives by forgoing some small pleasure.
We live in a time of history where we can have so much in an instant. Does that not create a huge opportunity for us go without something out of love for God?
No matter how much or how little we fast, doing so reminds us that our life is a gift that can be given in the service of those who are denied that gift.