Before we know it, Lent will be here and that word will be back into our life. You know that word: fasting. Here we go again folks, 40 more days of procrastination and excuses of why we limp our way through these 40 days. Just like those New Year’s Resolution -- our Lenten intentions may quickly be found on the wayside.
Why don’t we take a new and much better approach to our perception of fasting and Lent? Why? Number one, no one starts out on a journey or a race with the idea of not completing it! If we did, we would not even desire to start. So let us check right now - our attitude that we have about Lent and fasting. This makes a difference -- for what we believe in our hearts -- come to be in our lives.
Fasting and Lent usually bring forth "negative words" like denial, penance, doing without, giving up favorites, or going to church or reading the Bible “more.”( Yes for some, that last example may bring forth an Eeyore sigh.) So, being honest, think on just how do you feel about Lent and fasting?
How about approaching this Lent in a whole new way? Let us break the fasting rules and change them up a bit -- and add some fun and excitement to our Lent.
The Church’s basic fasting rules, we must keep — I am not saying change those. But, instead of thinking 40 days of Lent -- let us break it down into 13 three-day increments. Jesus was in the tomb three days. So, first suggestion is make two lists. One list will be of the different things that we can fast from for three days, and change to the next item on day 4. The second list will be of people’s names and their specific need that you would love to see happen in their lives and be specific!
Examples that can be put on that first list: salt, sodas, sugars, cell phone,computers, television, meat, fast food, griping and complaining, video games, movies, coffee, fatty fried foods and so on. Whatever it is that you just have to have -- give it up for three days. Fast from negative thoughts and words -- like gossip especially at work, home and on the computer. Really consider giving Facebook, Twitter or the news, a break for at least three days and seek nourishment in the Bible.
The harder the fast the more powerful the prayer for who or what you are praying! During your fast, whenever you are tempted, you can immediately think of that person and their need and offer up your "penance/prayer" for them. (There are some things Jesus tells us that need fasting along with the prayer to bring about the breakthrough miracles.) Remember, be specific and be watching for those miracles happening no matter how small the need you are praying for.
The next different thing you can do as you are fasting in the different ways is to add to the fasting between hunger/meals -- the habit of sitting down at table with God! God, in the quiet or in the people you are eating with. Light a candle as a symbol of his Presence. Let there be no other distractions as you eat. Eat small slow bites and truly enjoy the flavor of your food -- being thankful for all you have. Enjoy his Presence or their presence, in the calm and peace -- really being into the moment!
As you fast from the technical world and its temptations, get into the Word of God, especially when you want to reach for that comfort food or go to comfort wasteful ways of drawing away to “play” God is waiting to talk to you if you want to hear what he has to say.
There you have it. Mix that fasting up and put into your fasting all the people or changes you want to see in your own life. Join the two together and fast and pray away all those 40 days of Lent and have fun and be fruitful!
Thomas writes from Clarksville.
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