I recently saw this posted on Facebook. It was posted as a suggestion for a fasting discipline for Lent, but sadly, it’s not biblical. The Bible clearly talks about fasting, which is a good discipline with great benefits. But the person who posted this fasting suggestion doesn’t seem to know what a biblical fast is.
Three Problems with the Suggested Fast
1. A fast is only for a time period.
A fast is defined as, “a period during which you do not eat food, especially for religious or health reasons.”¹
Therefore a fast always comes to an end. In the case of a Lenten fast, it would end on Easter Sunday, and one would resume partaking of what they had fasted from.
2. A fast is abstaining from food.
Again, a fast is defined as, “a period during which you do not eat food, especially for religious or health reasons.”
The things in the Facebook post don’t meet the criteria of a fast because they are not food.
3. A fast is meant to be a sacrifice.
Once again, a fast is defined as, “a period during which you do not eat food, especially for religious or health reasons.”
The biblical reasons for a Lenten fast is that the sacrfice of food (or even just certain foods) for an extended time period (40 days) is meant to be a self-denial of that which one enjoys and desires (especially select foods, eg. chocolate, soda, ice cream, meat, etc.)
Since hurtful words, anger, sadness, etc. are not food, abstaining from them is not a fast. And since they are not things to be enjoyed or desired, abstaining from them is not a sacrifice.
Let’s Not Redefine the Biblical Discipline of Fasting
Please hear me when I say: abstaining from the things mentioned in the Facebook post is a good thing. I’m sure the intention behind the post was good, but it was poorly conceived, and incorrectly presented as a fast. Even if someone is “figuratively fasting” from hurtful words, anger, worry, etc. during Lent, one should not resume such things after the 40 days.
Most people refer to “giving something up for Lent” (Read: What is Lent? Should I Give Up Something?) and such self-denial can be a very good Lenten discipline. But if you decide to give up the things mentioned in the post, don’t make it a fast. Determine to make it ongoing, not limited to Lent only.
Putting Off and Putting On
Paul wrote to the churches at Rome, Ephesus, and Colossae about giving something up and the importance of replacing that “something” with something else of greater value. He referred to this as “putting off” and “putting on” in Romans 13:12, Ephesians 4:22-24, and Colossians 3:8-10.
I suggest “re-framing” the Facebook post in this way:
Give those things up, put them off, but not just for the 40 days of Lent. Replace them with the good and godly things listed, and make a mindful commitment for lasting change, remembering that you have the power of the Holy Spirit to help you do so. Continually re-commit to “put off” that which is not of God’s will and ,His ways and “put on” that which does honor Him and reflects His love and light in the world — and trust that the Helper is with you!
John 14:26 the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
Heb 13:5 [Jesus] said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper,
If you choose to fast during Lent…
Remember, a fast is not about self-improvement. It’s about sacrificing to create a hunger and desire that can be filled and satisfied by drawing closer to Jesus. It’s about reminding you of the great suffering Jesus endured when He made the ultimate sacrifice for you:
- What a sacrifice He made when He left Heaven and came to earth to live among us.
- What a sacrifice He made when He gave His life to pay for our sins.
- And what a Saviour He is, who rose again, conquering death, and gave you eternal life.
Check out our Salvation Page and be prepared to share the good news of Easter and the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ the He offers to all who who come to Him in faith.
***Lent: 40 Titles for 40 Days (Download NOW: 40 Titles for Lenten Devotions)
What is Lent? Should I Give Up Something? (Article and Video)
This Time Called Lent (Video)
Prepare for Lent (Video)
Lent Reflections (Video)
How Should You Observe Lent? (Article)
How Should You Observe Lent? (Reflect and Prepare short video)
Have You Sat At The Master’s Table? (John 13-17)
What's Wrong with This FB Lenten Fast?
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He’s back….and it changed everything!
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Because He Rose: The resurrection changed everything! (video)
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Keep Easter Alive in Your Heart: He Came Back (video)
The Only Soul-Saver, Sin-Forgiver, Chain-Breaker, Pain-Taker, Way-Maker, Hope-Giver: Jesus
Keep Looking Up
Praise God, He’s Alive
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