Fasting:- meaning, the why and importance

“..Let us fast, and love our neighbor, and love one another; for His mercy is forever, You should observe the Sabbath, and do righteous deeds [St. Yared Tsome Deggua Zewarade]

Have you ever wondered why you have to fast? Where does fasting originate? How long ago? It may be true from our surroundings that many people fast for different reasons; some to gain favor from God, some to be a part of the large group, and others because they were ordered to do so and others for dieting purposes. Nevertheless, the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church has some biblical purposes for fasting.

In the Fetha Negest (Law of the Kings) fasting is defined as follows: "Fasting is abstinence from food, and is observed by man at certain times determined by law, to attain forgiveness of sins and much reward, obeying thus the one who fixed the law. Fasting (also) serves to weaken the force of concupiscence so that (the body) may obey the rational soul. Christians abstain from meat and all animal products: meat, milk, butter, and eggs. No food or drink is taken before noon; the seriously sick are exempted from fasting after they talked with their priest." Fasting gives purifies once life and liberates the soul and body from sin so that the free gift of salvation in Christ might produce great fruits in our life. It strengthens the human power of the love of God and man so that we might be more effective in serving. Fasting is not only from food. We don't fast to afflict ourselves with suffering and pain. Remember, the devil also never eats. The idea of fasting or being in a state of hunger and thirst without having a spiritual purpose is wholly vain [and is merely a diet]. "Fasting of the body is to cease from food and drink. Yet, the spiritual fasting means that man should be hungry and thirsty for righteousness," St John El-Tabayssi of Assiur. Like the saying of many saints including St. Yaried, they have taught us to fast through all our senses - eye shall fast from looking at vain things, mouth shall fast from speaking idle talk, the ear from hearing evil rumors, and the hand and feet from every evil action. As St. Isaac of Syria said, "the work of fast the beginning of every effort against sin and lust .. almost all passionate drive decreases through fasting".

“Behold! The time for fasting has arrived

Awaken your hearts and be vigilant for your prayer;

Beloved brethren! Let us not relinquish fasting for fasting has a great benefit in it.