Day 10 ~ To Fast or Not To Fast

You won’t find the word, “Lent” in the Bible.

It is a Christian tradition with roots that stretch back at least as back as the Council of Nicaea (largely Jesus-believing folks) in 325AD, and there are ancient church writings that suggest it may be earlier still. It began as a time to be set aside before Easter for fasting, prayer and reflection as a way to prepare our hearts to fully celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The length of time was generally around 40 days to reflect the experience Jesus had in the wilderness (see Day 7!) Originally, focused on new converts, (who would be baptized on Easter),the practice spread throughout the church as a way to focus on repentance and transformation through Jesus for the days leading up to the big “Hosanna!” on Easter morning!

For centuries, Lent has been observed by several faith communities, and always at the heart of Lent was some form of fasting. For early Lent-ers this always meant fasting from food in some form or another, and it was usually strict! You were to eat one meal a day after 3PM, with no meat, fish or dairy. Some included Sundays or weekends and some did not. But fasting from food was always required.

Every day.

For 40 days!

For hundreds of years the practice changed little, but by the 1400s the ways that Christians observed fasting had shifted considerably, including some not including food at all, but instead “giving something up”, like a personal sacrifice as a different type of fast.

Following the Protestant Reformation in the 1500s, Lenten practices were largely rejected as non-biblical trappings that focused on works rather than faith, which remained the predominant thought for most protestant churches for hundreds of years.

Recently, however, there has been a resurgence in looking back to our true Christian roots and reclaiming the parts that are still relevant for today, connecting us to our whole church family in “new ” ways, not just for the sake of being trendy, but as a way to deepen our love for and relationship with Jesus. And I’m all about that!

Still with me? (I hope so!)

As the tradition of Lent is becoming more widespread and practiced by many different families of Jesus-followers, there are more ideas and maybe even questions than ever about what it’s all about anyway.

“Does it have to include fasting?” “Fasting from what?” “Why would Jesus care of I don’t eat chocolate for 40 days anyway?” “Instead of not eating, how about we give to the poor!” “Can I add an act of service instead of having to give something up?” “Nobody can tell me how to fast!”

Gotta love us….

Here’s my take on fasting for Lent ~ for what it’s worth. =)

Do I need to perform an act of self-denial in order to get God’s attention and allow me closer access to Jesus? Thankfully, No! Should I be curious about that part of me that rises up indignantly at the idea of self-denial to see what may be hidden underneath? For me, that was a hesitant and humble yes…

As a fasting newbie (in the scope of 2000 years!) my Lenten fasts have taken lots of different forms. I usually don’t tell anyone what they are, except those who I live with (I think my first one was coffee….believe me, they needed to know!), or unless they are in a public venue (like writing a Lenten blog!) and I’ve learned so much through each of them. Prior to the start, I ask God what he would like to sharpen in me, what area I may need to surrender or what will lead me closer to learning more about his nature and love for the world, and then I sit with it for a bit until I get a sense of what that might be. There have been years I honestly don’t know, and then I get to experience the, “But God! I’m doing this for you….tell me what you want me to do!” spiritual/emotional tantrum that reveals just how much I need to let go of still, which is it’s own Lenten gift. =)

The thing that has remained constant throughout the past 20 years or so that I have picked up this yearly tradition in preparation for Easter, is that no matter what the “thing” is that I have chosen to fast from, it has served as a way to daily, consistently, sometimes painfully and tearfully, connect with Jesus in ways that I don’t at any other time of the year, simply because I don’t make space for it in the same way. It has sweetened my relationship with him as we’ve walked into deeper places in my heart that I wouldn’t casually walk into without the structure and discipline that fasting provides.

So, to fast , or not to fast for Lent?

I can’t answer that for you. I can only say that, for me, it’s an integral part of the experience that fills me with gratitude, and one that I have come to seek out rather than dread. That must mean something!

So thankful to be learning and growing together. <3



About Shellie Warren

Welcome ~ I am a mom, a wife, a friend, a sister, a daughter, a dreamer and a writer. But most of all I am a woman of faith - I have a deep longing to know and love....God.
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3 Responses to Day 10 ~ To Fast or Not To Fast

  1. Good gentle prompting Shellie

    • Shellie Warren – California – Welcome ~ I am a mom, a wife, a friend, a sister, a daughter, a dreamer and a writer. But most of all I am a woman of faith - I have a deep longing to know and love....God.
      Shellie Warren says:

      For me, too! =)

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