The tradition of fasting during Lent has long been practiced by the Roman Catholic Church. But how much do you know about the history of fasting or how it relates to the Easter season? Learn more about this practice’s history.
Why Do We Fast?
Have you ever wondered why it’s so important to fast during the Lenten season? Fasting is a form of penance and self-denial. When we learn how to refrain from temptations, we can redirect our attention from temporary satisfactions and focus on our relationship with God. Lent is about recognizing our sinfulness and where we’ve fallen short, and fasting helps us do that. It prepares our hearts, minds, and souls to celebrate Easter.
The Tie to Scripture
In scripture, the number 40 represents hardships that bring forth new life, and Matthew 4 tells us that Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness to get ready for His ministry. While in the wilderness, Jesus fasted, prayed, and repeatedly resisted temptation from Satan. Our 40 days of fasting mirrors and honors the time that Jesus spent doing the same.
Old Testament Versus New Testament
Fasting actually has a different connotation in the Old Testament than it does in the New Testament! In the Old Testament, we see people use fasting as a way to express grief, whereas in the New Testament, people use it to focus on God and prayer.
A Spiritual Discipline
When we hear the word “fasting,” many people picture giving up all food for days at a time, but that’s not the case. As Catholics, we are encouraged to fast for all 40 days, or to eat one full meal and two smaller meals on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and we abstain from meat on those days and all Fridays. It was on a Friday that Jesus died for ours sins, and we approach every Friday as a day to prepare for Sunday.
More Than Food
Fasting is not just about giving up food. We can fast from coffee, social media, or sleeping in, or we can focus on adding in spiritual practices such as reading the Bible every morning or praying the rosary daily.
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