Saturday, March 08, 2014

Is Fasting Foolish?

On Shrove Tuesday a colleague in ministry tweeted, "Is there still people out there who are fasting during Lent? I mean real intelligent people..." His grammar was iffy, but he is a Francophone and his English is far superior to my French.

I responded; "Why demean folk who choose fasting? There is a long biblical & church tradition of restraint before celebration."

I got thinking about it and realized that every major religious tradition includes fasting; Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Christianity. And many streams of Native spirituality includes vision quests where fasting is an element. Can they all be wrong?

Lent is a traditional time for fasting with the notion that in order to truly celebrate the feast we must begin with the fast. Mind you, we may choose to get creative with our fasting, moving beyond food. We are invited into a "carbon fast" reducing our consumption of fossil fuels. Some commit to a technology fast, designating days of the week when they will turn off their not-so-smart phones or abstain from the internet.

Fasting challenges us to curb our insatiable hungers and refocus our hunger for God. We are often relationship-starved when in comes to prayerful intimacy with God, and Lenten fasting allows us to redirect our energies.

What do you think about fasting, or do run in the other direction at the thought?

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