There are certain things that just work together, like peanut butter and jelly, salt and pepper, pencil and an eraser, husband and wife. So too does fasting and prayer. One without the other is just not the same and not as effective. Prayer and fasting fit together because fasting from food helps you pull away from needing things of this world for a short time (assuming that you’re doing the food fast). By praying we focus and trust God more. We pray to be united with Him, and in the peace and quiet of our hearts listen to what He has to say to us. We listen–He wants us to.
How do you fast? Start by deciding what it is that you are going to fast from. It can be anything that you want to give up and instead spend that time in prayer. You could give up TV, the Internet, radio, iphone, etc.; you can add something that seems hard to you and make it a challenge, like taking that extra mile walk in the park. Or you can try the recommended fast on bread and water.
When would be a good time to fast? Lent is a good time to start fasting. Lent starts on Ash Wednesday, which this year falls on February 14, which of course is St. Valentine’s Day. What a coincidence! It’s a day that we can share our love for others more than usual and definitely show our love to God by fasting. If you cannot start on this day, the Pope is asking the whole world to fast on Wednesday, February 23 for peace.
Who is fasting? There are over 77 stories of people in The Bible that fasted and prayed. In the Old Testament, for example, the ancient city of Nineveh proclaimed a fast to save their city from destruction because of God’s wrath due to their wicked lives. The people were sorry and repented by fasting and praying. God saw that they changed their evil ways and were sorry, so He did not destroy Nineveh. In the New Testament, Jesus prayed and fasted many times throughout the gospels. Fasting continues today. Christians and other religions fast for faithful reasons, yet others are also fasting for health reasons.
Why do people fast? Combining our prayers with fasting creates a powerful synergy. It also helps teach us not to become slaves to the things or needs of this world. Not being a slave to our own desires will set us free.
Ask God for strength and what His will is for you. Pray for all the people who are suffering, all the starving people in this country and around the world. Contemplating on the passion of Jesus is a good way to put your own suffering into perspective.
This video has more ideas on fasting.
FASTING BREAD RECIPE
Taken from Sr. Emmanuel’s’ book, “Healing and Liberation Through Fasting”. This bread is very hearty and really sustains one who chooses to fast on bread and water.
3 cups white flour
4 cups wheat flour
1 pkg dry yeast
1/2 cup of lukewarm water
2 cups of very hot water
1 beaten egg
1 Tablespoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Sugar or Honey
2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
1 teaspoon of butter
1 cup Raisins (or fresh apple peeled and cut)
1 cup Almonds or Walnuts
1 cup Plain Oats
In a medium sized bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup lukewarm water. Cover with a plate and wait a few minutes until bubbly. In a large bowl, combine the flours. Make a well in the flour and add the yeast mixture. Mix a bit.
Reusing the now empty medium bowl, combine Salt, Sugar, Butter, Oil, Raisins, Nuts, 1 beaten egg, and the two cups of very hot water. Pour this over the yeast mixture. Mix/knead the dough, adding flour and or water as needed.
Knead the dough until it comes clean from the bowl. Cover with a plate or towel and let it rise ten minutes. (I often skip this step and the bread still tastes fine) Knead it again until it has spring to it. Place in well greased bowl and cover, letting it rise until doubled in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on room temp.
Form into desired shapes. This will make two large or three medium loaves.
Place in greased pan. Brush the top with remaining egg (if you did not use it in recipe) and sprinkle with sesame seeds, oats or poppy seeds, if desired.
Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes, until done and golden brown.
Today I am working on being free. How about you?