While fasting is commonplace for many Catholics over the period of lent, particularly on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, others choose to fast repeatedly throughout the year. When it comes to religious fasting, many of us make the connection to Muslims and Ramadan and Zakat; however, fasting is a practice that’s performed in multiple religions. That said, fasting in Catholicism differs from other forms of religious fasting, as it refers to eating fewer, smaller meals daily. In contrast, many other religions focus on complete abstinence from food and water.
Regardless, all forms of fasting are tough, meaning you’ll want to follow some guidelines, as detailed below.
Keep Yourself Occupied
First and foremost, many people find themselves snacking simply because they’re bored. Despite this, in the practice of physical discipline and the strengthening of spiritual muscles, fasting is extremely effective. Therefore, you can prevent yourself from falling into the trap of snacking by keeping yourself as busy as possible. If you feel hunger pangs, find something for you to do. Whether it’s engaging in prayer or simply going for a walk, keeping yourself occupied will distract you from your urge to eat. Similarly, you’ll find the time going faster, as you won’t be constantly watching the clock to see when you can eat again.
Refrain from Boasting or Attention Seeking
Since people are often impressed with themselves about their ability to fast, they can sometimes feel the need to boast about their success. Despite this, you shouldn’t be fasting to gain recognition from others; you should be doing so simply to strengthen your connection with God. It can be very tempting to use your fasting as a source of attention; however, you should do everything in your power to keep your intentions pure. It’s the role of believers to be meek and humble, and this role should be maintained even during periods of fasting.
Steer Away from Temptations
Fasting is a time in which temptations become even harder to resist; therefore, you should keep any temptations at an arm’s length during periods of fasting. Take this time to focus exclusively on your relationship with God. Temptations will be everywhere, and you’re only human, meaning you may find yourself falling victim to your temptations. Despite this, it’s essential to remain strong and keep your focus in mind. You should implement additional measures to remove temptations from your path.
Establish a Fasting Strategy with Clear Goals
Going blind into fasting isn’t helpful, which is why you should have a clear strategy with set goals in mind before you embark on this journey. If this is your first time fasting, you’re going to want to ease yourself in slowly. After all, you don’t want to put yourself in a position in which you’ve set a goal that’s impossible to achieve. This will only cause you additional frustration or disappointment if you fail. As with anything, practice makes perfect, so the more you fast, the easier it will become.
Incorporate Prayer into Your Fasting Ritual
Last but not least, fasting is all about strengthening your bond with God. As a result, it’s essential that prayer is incorporated into your fasting routine. During periods of fasting, you realize just how much you rely on God, so it’s important to express gratitude towards him. It’s natural to feel irritable when you begin your fast; however, you should try and steer away from these negative emotions. Instead, you should quiet yourself and seek assurance in God. Going into prayer is an effective way of dealing with negative emotions, rather than allowing yourself to dwell on this negativity.