Erika’s Fast Day Guidelines*: Create space in your day for prayer, for reflection, for the Holy Spirit. Go without food or drink (either a specific type – like alcohol, or meat – or don’t consume anything for a period of time) so when you turn away from consuming, you turn towards God. Do this privately; don’t broadcast your Fast to those around you.
*I made this up. You can make your own up. This is not codified.
Prayerful Fasting is foreign to most of us.
We know about consuming. We are good consumers – we purchase, we eat, we treat ourselves, sometimes because that’s what feels normal, not because we need the calories, the new thing we bought, the new sensory input coming at us through screens all day.
We know about fasting for ourselves. “I’m not drinking soda” we declare, or “I’ve given up gluten” or “I’m trying intermittant fasting to lose weight.” This things are transactional – we give them up to gain something. Better health, slimmer waistlines, or to feel a part of a group.
The Fasting we do on Fast Days are neither of these. Imagine a large bowl full of water. You intentionally, prayerfully, pour the water out. And you intentionally, prayerfully, resist putting more in, even though water is available all around you. Even though if you just filled your bowl, you could move on to the next thing. Instead, you sit with your empty bowl, all day long.
It seems insane in our culture to do this. To intentionally be inefficient. To intentionally *not*. But when you decide to sit with that emptiness, to turn towards God again and again…there is space for Spirit.
- Every Friday is a Fast Day
The BCP designates all Fridays except in the seasons of Christmas and Easter as days of “special devotion” with “special acts of discipline and self-denial” (which normally include fasting).
An exception is made for the feast of the Annunciation in Lent and feasts of our Lord on Friday. These feasts are so important, they override the normal Friday fast.
- Lent/Holy Week
The whole season from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday is a season of Fasting, except for Sundays which are always Feast Days. This has some traction in most peoples’ observances. “What are you giving up for Lent?” is a nod to this Fasting season.
- Other Personal Days of Observation
Creating space for prayer and observance is a powerful thing. Sometimes we can choose to recognize a day’s significance to us personally through Fasting.
An example is the For Such A Time As This call to Fasting and Prayer on the 21st of each month. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton of the ELCA invite us to commit to pray, fast and act to remember those in poverty and the challenges they face, and then to do something about it.
Remembering the day a family member died, when one is praying for someone in great need, or when the need to create space and be still is required – all these things would make sense in a personal day of Fasting.