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Do you fast for religious reasons?


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I don't fast more than two meals otherwise I get pretty shaky. I use it as a way of taking something fairly major out of my life and spending that time with God to build and strengthen my relationship with Him. Twice in my life I have completely cut myself off from everyone and everything for two days, put myself in a hotel and prayed and read scripture. I drank juice was all on those days. It's like saying that he is more important to me than my basic needs, and it really helps me focus on where I'm at in life and why I'm doing what I'm doing.

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If you fast for religious reasons, would you mind explaining why and how? I've been praying for something for a long time, and someone recently suggested I fast. I don't really know much about the hows or whys. Anyone have any verses?

 

When I didn't know much about fasting I read a book by Elmer Towns. I just did this google search "fasting elmer towns" and found parts of some of his writings for free in pdf form. I think this would be a good place to start learning about this spiritual discipline and to find some of the Scriptures about it.

 

Blessings,

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If you have a Bible with a concordance in the back, there will be a lot of scripture listed under fasting for you to look up. There's also books to read and lots of things if you google something like "why Christians fast"

 

For me, fasting is a way of glorifying God, and building my relationship with him. It's putting aside earthly needs and giving yourself completely to him. It was done throughout the Bible and is (I think) expected from us. I also think it should be a personal thing between just you and God.

 

HTH :001_smile:

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Celebration of Discipline (Richard Foster) is the best book I know of to learn about fasting and the other biblical spiritual disciplines.

 

I think the most common way of fasting is to refrain from eating and just drink water for a period of time. Some people fast for one meal, for one day, or for more days. It is best start slow.

 

Use it as a time to focus on God and pray. Time that you would otherwise use to prepare food, eat, and clean up could be used to pray and meditate on the Bible (unless of course you are still cooking for, feeding, and cleaning up after the kids!).

Edited by Mrs Twain
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Yes we do(although it is very difficult since I love food:tongue_smilie:) but I guess thats the point to deny our flesh what it wants so we can focus more on God. It's not like its a magic formula but its that God honors our sacrifice. However if we fast without praying we are basically just starving ourselves so if you decide to fast don't forget to pray also:)

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Celebration of Discipline (Richard Foster) is the best book I know of to learn about fasting and the other biblical spiritual disciplines.

 

I think the most common way of fasting is to refrain from eating and just drink water for a period of time. Some people fast for one meal, for one day, or for more days. It is best start slow.

 

Use it as a time to focus on God and pray. Time that you would otherwise use to prepare food, eat, and clean up could be used to pray and meditate on the Bible (unless of course you are still cooking, feeding, and cleaning up after the kids!).

 

I second Celebration of Discipline - I absolutely love that book! It was required reading for one of my college classes, and I just read it again about a year ago and got even more out of it this time. :)

I don't fast often, but I was feeling like I should try fasting shortly before our church did a corporate Daniel fast for the first time. I'm not sure how I feel about the way that whole thing went (and I didn't do it when they did it again), but I would definitely say that fasting is something that you need to figure out how to do before you try it... DH tried fasting just for a weekend (full fast, just water) and couldn't do it because of his job. Our Daniel fast included liquid only days a couple of times a week, as well as the last few days of the fast.

Anyway, I knew nothing about fasting before we did ours - other than 'don't eat' lol. Just keep in mind that you don't have to fast - it isn't something that we're called to do necessarily (to my knowledge - but that depends on your belief system, maybe - if I'm speaking in ignorance, I apologize), so don't feel bad if you don't do it. A lot of times fasting is done for specific purposes, but at the least it needs to be something that you feel you should do as opposed to something others are telling you you should do (not that you said that, either :) Just covering the bases).

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I fast two meals. (no food, no water. I do take my medication with water.) I begin with a private, vocal prayer dedicating my fast to the purpose I am fasting for. sometimes it's as simple as expressing gratitude to the Lord for all He has done, other times it's more specific to a need. when I feel hunger pangs, I have found focusing on what I am fasting for is a good way to redirect my focus to the spiritual over the physical. when it is time for the next meal, I again have a private, vocal prayer formally ending my fast.

 

I usually have a private prayer in my bedroom when dh is elsehwere.

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We fast quite regularly in our church (Eastern Orthodox) in two different ways. We do a total fast from midnight on every week before receiving the Eucharist on Sunday (and if there's a midweek Liturgy, we'll do a total fast before that, too). Then we do a partial type fast every Wednesday and Friday throughout most of the year, for six weeks twice a year (Christmas and Easter), two weeks in August, and then a varying length fast (a couple days to up to six weeks) once a year. All told we do this partial fast for about half the year. In the early church, fasting didn't mean not eating any food at all (except in preparation for the Eucharist), but abstaining from animal products -- meat, dairy, eggs, etc. -- wine/alcohol and oil, so this is what the Orthodox throughout the world do. This partial fast is based on the fast imposed on Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden, which wasn't a total fast but a fast from a specific food. It began within a few years of the Ascension as it's in the writings of the early church fathers from during the time when the apostles were still alive.

Edited by milovaný
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My family fasted when I was a child (usually the kids would only do a day but my father would do longer).

 

*Food is so central to life. We build so many things around food (the day's schedule, family time, celebration, comfort, money/budget, health). Fasting takes the focus away from our physical life necessities and moves it to our spiritual needs.

 

*Fasting gives you a set time to worship, meditate, pray (during what is usually mealtime).

 

*In college we sometimes held fasts to remind us of the need for social justice. We fasted to remind us that the world has hungry people. We needed to remember them and have compassion for what they're going through. We also collected money and food during those times.

 

We were very laid back about fasting. Its not something you really go around telling everyone. Instead of eating we would each go meditate/pray alone. If my dad was fasting he would just drink a glass of water and then go in his room while we were eating.

 

Its kind of like a mental/spiritual/physical cleanse, in a way. It makes you re-evaluate things you usually take for granted. My dad always said it gave him a lot of clarity when he had tough decisions (he never made a snap decision while fasting, but it gave him insight which he would then re-evaluate later).

 

Since most of us can't move into a monastic community, it does the next best thing. It gives a spiritual focus, ties spiritual things into a real-life schedule, and changes everyday priorities for awhile.

 

Its interesting how positive this sounds, since I haven't fasted for 15 years or so...since I left college anyway. I guess Baptists (dh) aren't really into that. :tongue_smilie:

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Yes. As LDS, we as a very general rule, fast once per month and donate the meal money we would've spent to the Church.

http://www.lds.org/manual/gospel-principles/chapter-25-fasting?lang=eng

 

:iagree:This. I just wanted to add that the money donated to the church as Fast Offerings goes into a fund that's used specifically to help church members who are in need. It's not used for administrative or other kinds of expenses.

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Well I'm Muslim so fasting is big :D During Ramadan all Muslims {except those excluded for health reasons} are supposed to fast from sunrise to Sunset. FYI Ramadan 2012 begins in about a week :D Fasting in Islam means a total fast i.e. no food or water from sunrise to sunset, as well as fasting from teA relations and from arguing or doing anything sinful. Typically those fasting eat Suhor which is a pre-dawn breakfast, and then break the fast at sundown first by eating a date and drinking water or milk, then by eating Iftar aka dinner. It's a way of not focusing your bodily needs and focusing more on your spiritual life and goals.

Edited by frugalmama
ETA further clarifications on fasting
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I'm EO, and to all the above I would just like to add this: it is important for a person who has the slightest tendency toward an eating disorder to be very careful with fasting, or not do it at all. Consult a priest or pastor about this.

 

Also, if you get shaky, weak, and can't do the work you are called on to do safely (whatever it is: taking care of your family, or your job), you are doing too much fasting.

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We fast quite regularly in our church (Eastern Orthodox) in two different ways. We do a total fast from midnight on every week before receiving the Eucharist on Sunday (and if there's a midweek Liturgy, we'll do a total fast before that, too). Then we do a partial type fast every Wednesday and Friday throughout most of the year, for six weeks twice a year (Christmas and Easter), two weeks in August, and then a varying length fast (a couple days to up to six weeks) once a year. All told we do this partial fast for about half the year. In the early church, fasting didn't mean not eating any food at all (except in preparation for the Eucharist), but abstaining from animal products -- meat, dairy, eggs, etc. -- wine/alcohol and oil, so this is what the Orthodox throughout the world do. This partial fast is based on the fast imposed on Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden, which wasn't a total fast but a fast from a specific food. It began within a few years of the Ascension as it's in the writings of the early church fathers from during the time when the apostles were still alive.

 

That is so nicely said. I wanted to add my perspective. I've done both EO and Western (Anglican/Episcopalian) fasts.

 

In EO you follow a set of rules of what can and cannot be eaten -- if it is too difficult & you need to compromise, the priest can give you advice. (Such as -- try the first & last weeks of Lent.) But, basically, you are giving up your willfulness. In the Episcopal churches I know, every parishioner chooses what to give up -- sugar, chocolate, etc -- I have certainly seen fasting being used to jump start a diet, etc., and priests/ministers tell you fasting is a personal decision. (Adding that the Episcopal churches I go to strongly suggest no food on Ash Wednesday & limited food on Holy Saturday.)

 

And, in EO, I was always told to eat intentionally, that is, at meals, but no snacking. I never heard this in the Episcopal church.

 

In EO, the fasting is matched by extra church services (often with exceptionally beautiful music & liturgy that is heard only in that particular season). For Episcopalians, there are some extra services (Ash Wednesday & Holy Week); the music is special & the liturgy changes, but not to the extent it does in EO. Some individuals may attend many extra services throughout Lent, say, but it is not the norm.

 

Anglo Catholic churches (the ones I know) tend to fast from midnight before the Eucharist, so that would be similar to EO. There is not supposed to be meat on Fridays, but there are no restrictions on other days. And, for the most part, there are not other fasting days/seasons during the year -- Advent, for example, is penitential, but there is not an advent fast. (I'm talking generally -- there are some monasteries that I know of where there are more rules about fasting.)

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We, as a whole church, do more abstaining than fasting. This article explains it as it pertains to US Catholics.

 

On a personal level we can fast and/or abstain from anything at any time as long as our fasting does not interfere with our work. But it isn't a magic bullet. One can't expect God to change his mind or automatically jump through our hoops just because we have decided to fast.

 

Prayer and fasting/abstaining generally go hand in hand. Often as an act of penance. Sometimes as a way to simply get further from worldliness and closer to God.

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Celebration of Discipline (Richard Foster) is the best book I know of to learn about fasting and the other biblical spiritual disciplines.

 

I think the most common way of fasting is to refrain from eating and just drink water for a period of time. Some people fast for one meal, for one day, or for more days. It is best start slow.

 

Use it as a time to focus on God and pray. Time that you would otherwise use to prepare food, eat, and clean up could be used to pray and meditate on the Bible (unless of course you are still cooking for, feeding, and cleaning up after the kids!).

 

Oh, I was just going to post about this wonderful book! It's really one of my favorites. It talks about the discipline coming from the relationship, a very good point, as most of it have it backwards.

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I am a Mormon, and we are encouraged to fast regularly once a month. We donate the money we would have used for those two meals our local bishop who then uses the funds to help needy families in our own congregation. It is also a time for focused prayer and reflection. When we deny the body, we are better able to focus on spiritual things, such as hearing the whisperings of the Holy Spirit. A few quotes here describe it in detail, followed by some scriptural references that encourage and outline a proper fast. HTH!

 

"In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, members are encouraged to fast whenever their faith needs special fortification and to fast regularly once each month on fast day. On that day, we go without eating or drinking for two consecutive meals, commune with our Heavenly Father, and contribute a fast offering to help the poor. The offering should be at least equal to the value of the food that would have been eaten. Typically, the first Sunday of each month is designated as fast Sunday. On that day, members who are physically able are encouraged to fast, pray, bear witness to the truthfulness of the gospel, and pay a generous fast offering. “The law of the fast,†taught Elder Milton R. Hunter, “is probably as old as the human family. … In ancient times, prophet-leaders repeatedly gave to church members the commandment to observe the law of fasting and praying.†3

 

We observe that in the scriptures, fasting almost always is linked with prayer. Without prayer, fasting is not complete fasting; it’s simply going hungry. If we want our fasting to be more than just going without eating, we must lift our hearts, our minds, and our voices in communion with our Heavenly Father. Fasting, coupled with mighty prayer, is powerful. It can fill our minds with the revelations of the Spirit. It can strengthen us against times of temptation.

 

Fasting and prayer can help develop within us courage and confidence. It can strengthen our character and build self-restraint and discipline. Often when we fast, our righteous prayers and petitions have greater power. Testimonies grow. We mature spiritually and emotionally and sanctify our souls. Each time we fast, we gain a little more control over our worldly appetites and passions."

 

"When the disciples were unable to cure a boy who was possessed of an evil spirit, they asked the Savior, “Why could not we cast him out?†Jesus responded, “This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting†(Matt. 17:19, 21).

 

Let us begin our fasts with prayer. This could be kneeling at the table as we finish the meal with which we begin the fast. That prayer should be a natural thing as we speak to our Heavenly Father concerning the purpose of our fast and plead with Him for His help in accomplishing our goals. Likewise, let us end our fasts with prayer. We could very appropriately kneel at the table before we sit down to consume the meal with which we break our fast. We would thank the Lord for His help during the fast and for what we have felt and learned from the fast.

 

After chastising ancient Israel for fasting improperly, the Lord, through the prophet Isaiah, speaks in beautiful poetic language of a proper fast:

 

“Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?†(Isa. 58:6).

 

If we fast properly the Lord promises:

 

“Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; …

 

“Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. …

 

“And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday:

 

“And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, … and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not†(Isa. 58:8–11)."

 

You can find more information at lds.org and searching "fasting"

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Agreeing with Milovany--adding a couple of things. We "fast" from time to time (seriously no eating) but usually what we do is "abstain." We eat, but not of certain things. So we EAT, just not meat, dairy, eggs, fish, wine, oil.

 

I heard something the other day that gave me pause: the first sin was the breaking of a fasting commandment. Hmmmm.

 

So no oil or butter? What forms of cooking can you manage? I guess boiling, but most other methods of cooking that I do require at least a smidge of a fat in order to keep things from sticking or to aid the process of cooking. I've always been curious about this.

 

Another curious question: I think Catholics consider shellfish okay to eat on fast days (someone correct me if I'm wrong)--do EO?

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