Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – January 15, 2015
When Fasting—In Prayer
Fasting. Renunciation. Doing without. Skipping a meal—or two, or three.
Fasting may not be considered “popular” or trendy in certain circles today. Maybe, just maybe, believers in God could consider fasting, again. And perhaps, you or your friends already fast. And pray. If so, wonderful!
For some people, fasting is one among many spiritual disciplines. Even if you have never fasted yourself, you probably have some familiarity with the idea of it. The idea of doing without, abstaining from food, even from drink, is centuries old. For example, “giving up” or abstaining from something as part of a Lenten discipline.
Some years ago, I did, indeed, fast. On a fairly regular basis, I ate no food for some amount of time. Usually a twenty-four hour period of time. But a number of times, I went without food for two days, and even three days, several times. When I was in the middle of this practice, I often felt the benefit. At times, I felt a clarity, a freedom in prayer and communication with God.
But then, I felt this clarity and freedom at other times when I was not fasting, as well. Note: there is no sure-fire formula, no seven-easy-steps for having a deep, significant encounter with God every single time!
Now is the time for a necessary caution. If anyone has any issues with eating, or with your health, be careful. Perhaps even ask your doctor or another health professional about fasting and whether it might possibly be hazardous for you. Be prudent and cautious, please. Be wise, not foolhardy. I care about you and whether what I suggest—fasting—may be damaging or hurtful. If so, don’t do it! There are many other ways to come close to God.
For many throughout the world, fasting is a proven aid to prayer. As our helpful prayer guide Rev. Howell says, “Fasting is giving up something good in itself, something I have and love, but which I do without for a time for the sake of God. When we satisfy every desire, and as often as possible, then our deeper desire for God comes to be masked over, desensitized.” 
Fasting usually is in reference to food (primarily) and drink (secondarily). But fasting can also be from other things, too. What about a silent retreat—fasting from speaking? Or fasting from media—no screens, for a period of time? You could be creative in choosing something to fast from. God loves it when we use the creativity God installed within each of us.
I don’t do food fasts very often now, because of health reasons. Yet, I know that this is a valid, beneficial, centuries-old practice. Praise God, I can find a way to focus in on spiritual things and develop my daily spiritual walk with my God, my Higher Power. So, help me, God.
For more information and a good, basic introduction, I suggest the chapter on fasting from Richard Foster’s classic book on spiritual disciplines, A Celebration of Discipline.
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 James C. Howell, The Beautiful Work of Learning to Pray, Abingdon Press (Nashville, TN: 2003), 53.