3 Forms of Fasting for the Season of Lent

As we enter into the season of Lent, we’re taking time to reflect on the “what” and the “why” of Lent and three practical ways of fasting. This is a guest blog by Nichol Wuertemberger, Business Operations Manager at hc1.

Fasting is simply abstaining from something over a period of time, and it’s a great practice in general and very common during the season of Lent. I grew up in a Lutheran church and have gone to a handful of different church traditions over my lifetime, including Campus House, Red Rocks Denver, and Soma Midtown to name a few, and currently attend IHM Church in Indianapolis. I have always found great benefit from practicing Lent and use three different forms of fasting when entering into the 40 Days. Participating in any combination of these is helpful in forming the “what” behind Lent.  However, before we jump into these three “whats,” we should root ourselves in the “why” behind this season.

The Why of Lent: Fasting to Feast

For both those who have and haven’t practiced Lent, we often fast from one thing in our current life to reflect and join in on the journey that Jesus once took (Matthew 4:1-11). He fasted from food for 40 days in the desert while being tempted by the devil. He rose triumphant and, although we aren’t perfect, we too rise triumphant over the 40-day journey of Lent. 

These 40 days weren’t the end for Jesus, and they aren’t the end for us either. These 40 days of Lent lead to Easter, when we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection and triumph over death. This sacrifice gives you and I access to a loving relationship with God and eternity with Him in Heaven. This is the “why” behind Lent: to push us into a personal relationship with God.

With the “why” in mind, let’s dive into the “what.” I’ve heard it said that the point of fasting is to feast on Jesus. The transition from fasting to feasting goes like this: When we think about or feel the loss of the thing we are fasting from, we can direct our feelings, prayers, and dependance on God. Fasting comes in many forms, and below are three that I’ve found helpful over time.

The What of Lent: 3 Forms of Fasting

1. Fasting to Remove

Some people remove something during Lent that isn’t necessarily bad, but that they have a regular relationship with. For example, cutting lunch on Tuesdays or not having screen time on Saturdays. Another common example to some church traditions is abstaining from meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and all the Fridays of Lent. However, if you cut something and it makes you a hard person to be around (coffee for me) then do not cut that thing. It’s better to keep coffee and be an enjoyable person to be around than to cut coffee and always be a little more difficult.

2. Fasting to Refrain

Some people refrain from something entirely during Lent because they feel it is to some degree “bad.”  Cutting desserts altogether or not eating or drinking certain things are a couple examples. This might be the most common form of fasting during the Lenten season. It’s like a continuation of New Year’s resolutions, but with the added intention to fast with a greater “why” in mind. Fasting to Refrain pushes us into a healthier lifestyle and a healthier relationship with God.

3. Fasting to Restore

If the heart of fasting is ultimately to feast on (draw closer to) God, then adding something that we need is just as good as removing something we want. For example, taking 30 minutes every Monday to pray, read the Bible, and meditate or praying every night before bed for 10 minutes are great restorative practices during Lent. Naturally, this form will cause you to fast from normal things you do to enable you to reserve these times in the day to restore healthy spiritual practices.

With today being Ash Wednesday (the kickoff of Lent), I hope this sparks a path forward for you. To end with a reminder of our “why,” this phrase pulls together the heart of this season well: You and I are not made for Lent’s flourishing; Lent and Fasting are made for our flourishing. It’s good to have a little grace for yourself and move into this season knowing you and I aren’t perfect. We’ll probably have a couple desserts on accident and skip a prayer time or two. However, know that you have a perfect Father in heaven who delights in you running towards Him. If practicing Lent this year can make this a reality for you, let’s do it together. Happy fasting!

Here are a few questions to spark good conversation and reflection with your spouse, friends, small group, or EDGE Group during this season of Lent:

  • Have you ever practiced Lent or fasting? If so, explain what that looked like for you.

  • Which of the three forms of fasting stick out most to you? Why?

  • Have you ever thought about the “why” behind the practice of Lent or fasting?

  • Do you plan on practicing Lent or fasting this year? If so, share your intentions with a friend, spouse, or group. This will help us hold each other accountable.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply