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Lenten Musings

focus on God through fasting

Here it is, the much-anticipated new post on the weekly blog about Lent. This week’s post will answer the obvious question regarding Lent: “What is fasting, what does it do and why participate?”

Defining fasting

Well, fasting is the willful abstinence from something in order to achieve some purpose. Most commonly, food is the object that is abstained from, but you can really fast from anything. For Lent this year, I’m fasting from certain foods, mainly pizza and fries from the Caf, and from certain media types like Netflix and video games. You can fast from most anything that you do or eat, but it’s best to choose something that you regularly do, otherwise it’s kind of cheating. For instance, a vegetarian can’t choose to fast from eating meat, because they already abstain from meat; and I can’t fast from living in China, because I have never lived in China.

Understanding the point of fasting

All right, so that’s fasting. But, you might ask, what’s the point? Is fasting just a way to make someone hate the things they love? Well, no. The main point is to realign your life from a focus on the things of the flesh to the things of the spirit. Part and parcel with a Christian fast is a renewed focus on prayer and Scripture reading. So, essentially, the point of fasting for a Christian is to remove, for a season, the things in your life that keep you from living the Christian life to its fullest. This is not to say, however, that the things that you give up are inherently bad. All of creation is good, and should be treated as such, but the things that hinder our spirit should be done in restraint, and fasting is a good way to realign your focus. And, I mean, Jesus did it, and he commanded it, so it’s got to be a good practice.

So, fasting should be done as a way to realign the body or soul into right standing with the Lord. That’s why Lent is such a good time to practice fasting. The church practices Lent in preparation for Easter so that when we celebrate the fullness of the resurrection on Easter Sunday, everyone celebrating is set right with the Lord. This is also why confession is practiced on Good Friday in most traditional churches, as it is a way to be ready to accept the sacrifice Christ made on that day.

Update on Entzminger's personal fast

As for me, I failed last Saturday with the Netflix fast. It was like 6 p.m., and I was completely and utterly bored, so I broke down and watched a movie on Netflix. It’s all good though, God’s pretty good with the whole grace thing, and I’m writing this, so I didn’t get struck down with fire from heaven.

If you’re fasting for Lent, or if you have ideas for these posts, I’d love to hear about it. Email me at andrew.j.entzminger@biola.edu, or leave a comment below.


Andrew Entzminger is a writer and blogger for The Chimes. He attends St. Matthew’s Anglican Catholic Church each Sunday in Newport Beach, enjoys listening to music and, on feast days, watching documentaries on Netflix.

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