The Spirituality of Fasting

(saint_mary)st_mary-003Fasting is the earliest commandment:

is the earliest commandment known to mankind, for God commanded our
ancestor Adam to refrain from eating a certain fruit from a certain
tree (Gen 2:16,17) but allowed him to eat from the rest.

In this way, God set for the body certain limits beyond which it should not go.

man did not have absolute freedom to take whatever he laid eyes on and
whatever he desired. He had to abstain from certain things and control
his inclination towards them. Thus since the very beginning, man has
had to control his body.


By abstaining from food, man rises above the level of the body and above matter, and this is the wisdom behind fasting.

went on committing several other bodily sins, one after the other,
until he was condemned to walk after the flesh and not the spirit. (Rom

Then the Lord Jesus Christ came to restore man to his initial status.

man had erred into the sin of eating the forbidden fruit by obeying his
body, Christ’s first triumph over temptation addressed this particular
point, to overcome the desire for food in general and over that which
was legitimate. Christ started His service with fasting, rejecting the
devil’s temptation to make Him eat to nourish his body.

Lord Jesus Christ showed the devil that man was not a mere body but
also a soul nourished by every word that proceeds from the mouth of
God. He said to him: "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." (Matt 4:4).

Thus did Prophets fast:

We hear the Prophet David say: "I humbled myself with fasting;" (Ps 35:13), "I wept and chastened my soul with fasting" (Ps 69:10), and "My knees are weak through fasting." (Ps 109:24). King David also fasted when his son was sick and "pleaded with God for the child" lying "all night on the ground" (2 Sam 12:16).

The Prophet Daniel fasted (Dan 9:3) and so did the Prophet Ezekiel (Ezek 4:9). We hear that Nehemiah fasted when he heard that "The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire." (Neh. 1:3,4).

Thus did Ezra, the scribe and priest, fasting and calling upon the whole population to fast. (Ezra 8:2 1).

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