Dumb technical question about fasting

I'm a convert, in the Coptic church.
Does a fasting day go from 12AM through 11:59PM or is it like in some other religions where it goes from sundown one day to sundown the next?


  • What kind of fasting are you referring to? Like the evening before Divine Liturgy?
  • Like Wednesdays and Fridays
  • We *should* obstain from meats and dairy the entire day on Wednesday's and Friday's throughout the year outside of the fifty days of Pentecost after Easter.

    There is no specific time, unlike the standard rule of no food after midnight before Liturgy, other than certain times of the year, like Holy Week or Koiak/Kioah (Christmas fast).

    That is due to the standard rule of fasting nine hours before Liturgy dependent on the start time being late in the day or very early morning.

    The whole idea of obstaining from meats and dairy those days is rememberece. As a former new convert, I would suggest you perhaps pray the Agpeya on Wednesday and Friday, maybe eat eggs and dairy for breakfast, then eat a veggie meal.

    Even if you eat fish at first, take baby steps before trying to just go by the rules because they are there. That makes it completely shallow and pointless. I knew a lot of folks who got caught up in all the rules and regulations and focused on them solely as the depth of Orthodoxy, without remembering the purpose.

    Basically, you just go vegan twice a week all day. That's the rule, but do what works best for you to use those days. Pay attention to what you eat as if you have Christ in your heart a little bit extra on those days to create the building blocks of faith.

  • Please correct me if I'm wrong but Wednesday represents a day of repentance because Judah betrayed Christ on that day and the Friday as the date of Christ's resurrection.
  • Meant Judas can that be editted please.
  • Yes. I figured he knew why we fasted on those days. I didn't specify because that wasn't part of his question.
  • Thanks for the answers/advice!
  • what people aim for is to abstain from eating and drinking for a certain number of hours on wednesdays and fridays and other fasting days (for example during lent).
    that abstinence starts at midnight (00:00 hours of wed or fri).
    of course, if you sleep earlier than midnight (I hope you do unless you work shifts as many people miss out on sleep and do less useful things like stay on the internet instead!) then you start fasting when you go to bed.
    then on waking the next day, you don't drink water or east breakfast until the specified time.

    this is always something you should first discuss with your confession father, as it is easy to think you are making great spiritual progress by skipping a meal or two, but you could be developing pride or other problems instead, and it is your confession father's job to check that out.
    generally, as my brother indicated, people don't start keeping all the fasts as soon as they join the church. people born in to it gradually increase their fasting until most are observing the fasting periods by the end of adolescence (mid to late teens). so new orthodox Christians also need to go in gradually.
    i only started going vegan weds and fris after a few years, i did lent (fast before the resurrection) first and then the other fasts gradually. another person i know who is in the process of becoming orthodox is starting with the weds and fris and does not yet keep the other fasts.

    so, back to abstaining (skipping breakfast); this is usually the last bit of fasting people add in, and the general aim is to not eat or drink till 12 noon during the lesser fasts (saint mary's fast, fast of the apostles and fast before Christmas) and not to eat or drink until 3pm on the strict fasts (such as lent, the fast of nineveh and weds or fris).
    but many people who work can't fast till 3pm, especially if they have a lunch break around 1pm and then have to be hard at work without a break until 5 or 6pm or even later.
    so they discuss this with their confession fathers who advise them accordingly.
    also if there is a feast day such as the feast of the cross, or ascension on a fasting day, then the normal abstinence is cancelled. of course if you are taking Holy Communion on one of those days, then you would fast for (at least) 9 hours as usual.
    ideally, even if you are not free to go to church on a feast day, you should abstain until the end of the service, so that you break your fast together with your brothers who are able to go to church.

    but as our guidelines are really quite strict, we never suggest anyone follows it without pastoral guidance. especially people who are sick, or on some types of medication, or very old people or children should follow a less strict form of fasting.

    lastly (as this has been a fairly long post), our churches sometimes have liturgies later than 3pm on fasting days, so people who are busy during the day can come to church at 5pm or later. on those days, some people fast for 9 hours before Holy Communion, and others from midnight the previous day. your confession father should be able to advise you on this, as we are not all able to fast like the monks and the nuns.

    also (i know i said 'lastly' a while back but this is the most important point!) remember that fasting includes prayer and good deeds such as giving, and only brings you closer to God if you have a relationship with Him through repentance and accepting His forgiveness. all the other church sacraments (confession, Holy Communion etc.) are also very important.

    if you have any other questions, please feel free to ask, as many of us (not just converts!) have also had these questions, so this is fine.
    i have lost count of the number of times i have forgot to fast or fasted by mistake!
    God sees our heart and our intentions, and also our submission to authority, all of which is more important that what we put in our mouths.
  • @mabsoota

    If you are ever in the states, you are always welcome to come and help me and my wife with Sunday school. You can take my general approach to describing things for youth and converts and explain it in depth in a very easy way to understand. You are a shining example of why women are so important to the church. God bless you, my sister.
  • that is very kind. the thing is i only understand the easy stuff!
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