Fasting on Fridays

Being a little bit hungry physically seemed to make me hunger and thirst for righteousness a bit more. In prayer I was more alert and watchful.

Mentally, Fridays became a day “in the cave” as well. Fasting turned me inward. I hunkered down and not only prayed more, but I read the books I needed to study. It was like a mini monastic retreat. I stayed in, read, prayed pondered and allowed the Holy Spirit to do his gentle work of healing.

The physical benefits of fasting are excellent. The body takes a day to clear out toxins. Drinking a lot of water helps flush the system. Resting the system refreshes the system. The appetite is sharpened. Boy, that cooked breakfast on Saturdays was a real treat!

Did you know there was an apostolate devoted to a ministry promoting fasting? Live the Fast is a website with lots of articles on fasting. They provide training and speakers encouraging fasting. They even provide wholesome, natural little bread rolls for those who fast on bread and water. They also give advice on fasting, provide links to books on fasting and remind people with special mental or physical problems–and the very young or old– to be careful with fasting and to not overdo it. I offer the same common sense warnings. Check them out.

Finally, fasting is one of the best known traditional ways to engage in spiritual warfare. Jesus said about some particularly stubborn demons, “These only come out by prayer and fasting.”

Why should demons flee when humans fast? The logical mind wonders about such things, but the answer is in the fact that the spiritual world and the physical world are not disconnected. We think of the physical world as this hard reality and the spiritual world as that airy fairy ephemeral world of spirit. Not so. The truth is that the two are intertwined and what we do with our bodies affects our souls and what we do spiritually affects our bodies. Fasting–like the sacraments–is a  place where the two are most clearly interactive.

Disciplining the body through asceticism is like the training of an athlete or a soldier. The body becomes a servant to the spirit rather than the other way around (which is the default setting). Through fasting the body learns to serve the spirit.

True story: during the time of my total fast on Friday, in the parish where I lived and worked there was a notorious witches coven. The churches in the town were plagued with sexual scandals, division, strife and negativities.

I encouraged a group of young people to join me in Friday fasting with the intention of driving the witches from the area. Within six months they had moved their dwelling out of the geographical boundaries of the parish and within the year they had moved out of the town completely. Spiritual life in the churches began to improve. Renewal began to take place.

I’m still wondering if our fasting on Fridays had something to do with it.