Love Your Neighbor
Fasting: what is it and why is it important?

Fasting is used as a way to petition God and we see it mentioned many times in the Gospel. In fact, we can conclude that Jesus expects us to fast. Fasting is meant to draw us closer to God, it is a spiritual experience in addition to a physical one. Or we could say that the 2 going hand in hand has an even deeper spiritual meaning. We are humbling ourselves to God and showing Him that we rely on Him more than the world around us. Reasons to fast could include mourning, amplifying a request or for repentance.

At the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says: “And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But 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; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matt. 6:16–18; cf. Mark 2:18–20)

General "rules" of fasting include:

  • abstaining from meat
  • limiting meal size and frequency, such as 2 smaller meals a day instead of 3 plus snacks
  • giving up something we enjoy, like gaming time or watching tv
  • it is important that you make sure that you can physically participate in fasting from food, check with your Dr if you have health conditions that make it unsafe for you to change your diet
  • how often should you fast? That is up to you and perhaps your physician. It is not clearly defined in the bible. But, at least once or twice a week could be a good habit to develop.
  • Catholics are asked to specifically fast on Ash Wednesday and on Fridays during Lent