Lenten Fasting and the Fruit of the Spirit

FruitIt’s Ash Wednesday–the first day of Lent and I have a confession. I stink at fasting. Every year I give up something for Lent. Usually it’s food, but not always. My most successful “fast” was the year I gave up my credit card and never looked back. It’s still debit only for me.

But this whole idea of prayer and fasting just, well, eludes me. One year I gave up lunch every Wednesday of Lent. Yeah, yeah, not much of a fast, I know. Even so, it was hard. And one year I gave up French fries and last year I gave up those pastries floating around the office every Tuesday and Thursday. And it was never easy for me.

Which is as it should be.

But here’s where I always miss the boat. The fasting is supposed to be tied to prayer. Feel a hunger pang? Pray. Crave a pastry? Pray. Smell a French fry? Pray. What did I do when I got hungry or a craving hit? I mostly heaved a sigh and counted how many days ’til I could have the forbidden fruit again.

Fasting did very little to help me grow spiritually. Not because it wasn’t a good practice, but because my focus was all wrong. I tended to focus on what I was trying to give up, not on what I was hoping to gain.

So what will I give up for Lent this year? Nothing. Instead, I’m going to take something ON for Lent. My plan is to work on developing the fruits of the spirit–love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. That gives me about five days to focus on each item in the list. And right now my focus is love.

Here’s hoping adding fruit to my diet does the Lenten trick.

7 thoughts on “Lenten Fasting and the Fruit of the Spirit

  1. A friend just posted a status with a neat idea. Put aside a can of food out of your stock each day to give to the local food pantry and pray for the person or family who will be eating it.
    Thank you for drawing my attention to the fact that “fasting” (giving up something for lent) is to draw us to prayer and meditation. I think I always connected it to “suffering.”

  2. Great thoughts, Sarah! Yes, fasting can truly lead to breakthroughs, but I think you have to get in that routine of turning your back on whatever you’re fasting from. Then you can concentrate on the prayer! But I need to do it more often.

  3. Our church (Episcopal) is big into the idea of taking on obligations during Lent (e.g. a new Bible study, etc.) and I’ve always thought that made so much sense, you know?

  4. Pingback: A Mid-Lent Fruit of the Spirit Update | Sarah Loudin Thomas

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