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ST. MARY OF ZION

ETHIOPIAN ORTHODOX TEWAHEDO CHURCH - LONDON

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'Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit'

St Matthew 28: 19

Charity No. 282910

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Consecrate a Fast

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. One God.

Amen.

 

Joel 2:15

 

Fasting is the earliest commandment known to mankind, for God commanded our ancestor Adam to refrain from eating a certain fruit from a certain tree (Genesis 2:16-17) and allowed him to eat from the rest. In this way God set the body certain limits beyond which it should not go.

 

And hence, God gave us the commandment of fasting for the sake of our spiritual growth leading to eternal life. By fasting, man rises above the level of the body and also above matter. Thus, fasting is neither a mere set of formalities nor a mere ordinance or rite. Rather, it is a gift and a blessing given to us by God and organised by the Church for our spiritual benefit. So, the period of fasting, as our Lord Jesus Christ fasted for forty consecutive days, should be a period of retreat and private fellowship with God the Father: as the Bible says, ‘consecrate a fast’ (Joel 2:15).

 

It is wrong to consider fasting only from the materialistic point of view, as merely abstaining from food for a certain period, followed by a meal which is free of animal fat. We have to take into consideration the spiritual dimensions of fasting.

 

If we consider fasting as merely abstaining only from food, it would not be a consecrated fast. But it is a relationship between man and food without God being as third party to it. This kind of fasting makes us similar to those people who fast only to have slim and beautiful bodies. Thus, fasting is not a mere dealing with the body. Rather, it is dealing with God. A fast that does not have God in it is not fast at all! We eat for God and fast for Him!

 

Not all fasts are consecrated, for there are false fasts which are in truth not considered as such and which are rejected by God. The Bible gives us examples of these rejected fasts: fasting to get people’s praise (Matthew 6:16-18), the proud Pharisee’s fast (Luke 18:9-14), a fast with a wrong aim (Acts 23:12), a fasting which is far from mercy and charity (Isaiah 58:3 -7), and a fast with committing sin (Jerm 14:11-12).

 

Some people also fast without performing any spiritual work! No prayer, No meditation, No reading spiritual books, No hymns, No confession, and No mass. That is why fasting, for them is, heavy, tiresome and without spiritual fruit. If you have fasted, and yet you have not started any spiritual activity, it is time to arrange a full spiritual schedule that includes all channels of grace. If you do not perform any spiritual activity, then how can you distinguish your fast from hunger strike or that of Buddhist and yogists?

 

Therefore, a consecrated fast must be accompanied by spiritual activities such as: repentance, prayer, worshipping and humility before God. It is also associated with strong will. Sacred fasting is associated with repentance because it is not permissible for man to fast and live in sin. Repentance is also associated with humility and confession of sin, as the Ninevite did when they wore sack cloth and sat in the dust. Moreover, fasting is associated with worship because abstinence from food, is not enough, as it is a passive act.

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