“And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”—Matthew 6:16-18
I was talking with someone recently about whether to give something up for Lent or to take something on. As I thought about it more, I thought that Lent might be a good opportunity to revisit the ancient practice of fasting. Lent doesn’t begin until Ash Wednesday on March 5th but I wanted you to have time to think and reflect about whether this might be something you want to try.
Fasting can be done many ways, during Ramadan, Muslims abstain from all food and drink from sunrise to sunset each day; Jesus fasted in the wilderness 40 days and 40 nights. As I have been learning more and more about fasting, I’m going to suggest a fast that may benefit your health. See my other article if you are interested in learning about the health benefits.
During the 40 days of Lent, which does not include Sundays, I challenge you to fast for 12 hours each day. So, whenever you take your last bite in the evening, wait 12 hours before you eat again. (You get to sleep and count it as fasting!) This does not include coffee, as long as it doesn’t have anything in it, you can drink water and please take your medicine when you are supposed to. If you need technology to help you, you can download the app “Zero – Fasting Tracker”. You can also choose how you want to fast.
Another component of this fast, that I would like you to consider, is joining the “ELCA World Hunger’s 40 Days of Giving”. In the coming weeks, we will have stickers that can be placed on a jar where you can collect what you are planning to give. According to World Bank estimates, 736 million people live in extreme poverty on less than $1.90 per day. The 40 days of Giving challenge suggests putting $2 a day in your jar. This should be sacrificial giving which is above and beyond your typical offerings.
Would you consider joining me in this challenge? And, even if you don’t fast, would you consider the “ELCA World Hunger’s 40 Days of Giving”? As you consider whether you will pray, fast and give this Lent, let this scripture be your guide:
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe
yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.—Colossians 3:12-14