This Friday we talked about fasting in general and, more specifically, fasting and abstinence during lent, which is the forty day period before Easter.

What is lent?

Lent is observed in some Christian denominations, for example the Roman Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox church. It involves self-denial, fasting, confession and prayer during the 40 days leading up to Easter, symbolising the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert. Although most Catholics abstain specifically from meat, people often choose to deny some pleasurable activity and spend time in prayer instead. A modern example is abstaining from Facebook.

The word “lent” comes from an Old English word “lenten”, meaning “Spring”, and the Hungarian word for lent, “nagyböjt”, literally translates to “great fast”.

What did we talk about?

We talked about fasting in general and different people’s experience with it. We thought about what it’s for and why we have lent before Easter. An interesting observation was that if you deny yourself something, then during that time you can focus more on God instead. In this way fasting can be a good way to connect with the Lord.

We also drew similarities with the 40 days of fasting that Jesus did in the desert. We noted that during this time, Jesus was so focused on fasting that it only mentions him being hungry after 40 days; until that time he was concerning himself with spiritual nourishment, spending time with the Father:

Matthew 4:1-11

2 When he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was hungry afterwards.

Similarly, after talking to the Samaritan woman at the well, when asked to eat, Jesus replies that his task on Earth is food enough:

John 4:27-38

34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work.

Lastly, we had a look at what Jesus says about how you should fast:

Matthew 6:16-18

16 “Moreover when you fast, don’t be like the hypocrites, with sad faces. For they disfigure their faces, that they may be seen by men to be fasting. Most certainly I tell you, they have received their reward. 17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face; 18 so that you are not seen by men to be fasting, but by your Father who is in secret, and your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.

Basically, that the point is not to suffer publicly, or to suffer at all, but rather to put things aside to spend more time with God and build on that relationship.

I pray that we can all set aside some time to connect with God.