Kelsey, Foster: Fasting

“Fasting can be to the body what silence is to the mind and soul,” Morton Kelsey, Companions of the Inner Way, The Art of Spiritual Guidance, p 119.

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Probably no one will consider reading about fasting only a couple of days after Thanksgiving! I was first introduced to holy fasting by Richard Foster in his now classic book, Celebration of Discipline. Fasting from food or any other ways of living helps us become aware of what is controlling us and the degree that it is controlling us. This is of course the traditional call of Lent, “to give up something,” a holy fast from something.

A fast can be a spiritual discipline to connect us more closely to God as are all the other disciplines. As we crave the substance or action, we can enter in some very small way and perhaps identify with the suffering of Christ and of others. Goodness knows, why in the world should we identify with more suffering? It is already present in our minds and in our bodies. For myself, however, when I attempt to fast from food or a certain type of food or from an action such as shopping or work, it is helpful to keep reminding myself that this is in an attempt to hear and see and find more time for God in my life. It can be a re-centering of what is important.

Fasting can especially be an important discipline to investigate how food or an action or a behavior pattern has become too important in our lives.

As we approach Advent, there is no better time to consider this spiritual discipline. Fasting could be a way to honor the Christ child as we fast from activities that block us from Christ in ourselves and in our neighbor.

Fasting above all the other spiritual disciplines can be an answer to prayer for quieting our soul during Advent while the outside world is unusually busy making demands on us. Intentional fasting from the news media, shopping, gossiping or criticism, for even one day a week or even an hour a day could change who we are by the time we approach the Christmas season.