Why should we fast?

What is the spiritual significance attached to abstaining from certain dietary products?

Of course I understand that fasting and prayer go hand in hand, by why isn't it prayer and confession, or prayer and walking or prayer and running??

Why is abstaining from certain food types , when coupled with praying, a mode of spirituality for us?

What do we gain when abstaining from animal produce??

Why can't we eat what we want, and just abstain from chocolate, or eat what we want and run 20 miles a day whilst praying?



  • My 2-cents worth, and the way I'd like to think about it is, is you always want the spirit to overcome the body. For that to happen you need to be in control of your body and what it needs. This really apply to all foods and that's why we are to abstain from food in total. but the the standard that the Church placed for us to compromise for all people with all ages, is to fast from all meat, all dairy (things that come from animals) and seafood. That is the minimum we should do. Further, each person should fast from things that knows he enjoys to much even if it's fasting. I am sure you heard about the monk who hated cheese so much that during fasts all he ate was just cheese, to go against his love or atleast acceptance to other foods. 
  • I have those same kind of questions.

  • Adam and Eve did not eat animals nor animal products in the garden of Eden and since the goal of the fast is to be more Christ like and come closer to our original nature, we do not eat of the animals nor what they produce. In this way we emulate our former state, prior to the fall. We subdue the body that it might teach our spirit. Think of lent like building a house, you start with a foundation, then next lent you build upon it and so on and so forth. If you build a foundation every lent but do not continue building, then you are stuck building a foundation, or trying to, every lent. So by doing lent, and subsequent fasts, we are seeking to continue building on the created spiritual foundation to build higher or become closer to Christ. I hope some of that made a bit of sense.
  • For the people who are used to fasting, doesn't it kinda lose its purpose?

    Like what if there's a person who's been fasting every fast since the age of 10 or something like that and they're like 45. Don't they get used to fasting to the point where it's not disciplining their flesh anymore?


  • edited March 2014
    @CopticStrength...Food is just the basic part of fasting because in theory, if you control your eating habits, you can control much more. From there, based on the guidance of your spiritual guide and father of confession, more restrictions are placed in each fast and extra steps are taken to weaken the body and strengthen the spirit. This goes towards more prayers, more metanias, more books to read, more sermons to hear, more learning to do for the spirit to be fed and bring you closer to GOd. 
  • I never thought of the link of fasting and adam/eve. Thanks for that insight.
  • I suggest Pope Shenouda's book on fasting. 
  • edited March 2014
    we are not only supposed to abstain from food... we are expected to abstain from sin and our worldly lusts as well! fasting from food is a basis for abstaining from sin. i need help on actually acting on this tho
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