Is there something wrong with your life? Maybe something is missing. Maybe you’re depressed. Maybe you’re overwhelmed. Maybe you’re trapped by compulsive behavior. Maybe there’s a particular sin you haven’t been able to overcome no matter how hard you’ve tried? Maybe you’re in a state of despair because you think nothing will ever change? Whatever the problem, I bet there’s one thing you haven’t done with consistency that could have a transformational effect on your entire life. It’s called fasting.
What Is Fasting?
Fasting is defined as abstaining from food or drink for certain periods of time. But fasting can also have a much broader meaning. You can fast from any activity — like social media or TV or music or shopping or gossiping — and those acts of self-denial can be very beneficial in developing your willpower.
What you must understand is that so many of the difficulties we face are the result of our weakened will. Over the years, our will has lost much of its innate power. The world and all its glittering attractions have been working hard to erode it. But when you fast you say no to the world. You say no to instant gratification. You say no to your body. You say no to your emotions. You say no to your whole psychology. You completely interrupt your usual self-indulgent way of interacting with the world, and it’s this radical “pattern interrupt” that can help you to stop all your negative behavior.
When you say no to eating, for instance, it does something to your body by purifying it; it does something to your will by strengthening it; it does something to your brain by teaching it that you do have self-control; it does something to your soul by acting as a form of penance for bad behavior and a form of preparation for better behavior in the future.
How Does Fasting Help Your Soul?
Fasting helps your soul in so many ways. It produces humility. It demonstrates sorrow for sins. It helps you to discern God’s will. It clears a pathway to following that will by detaching you from the things of the world. It helps make you more sympathetic to the poor and the sick— to those who are forced to do without different necessities in life. Most importantly, fasting is a powerful form of prayer.
Just look through the Bible and see how essential fasting has always been as a means of preparing God’s people to do great things. Moses, Elijah, Esther, Daniel, St. Paul, and the Apostles all fasted. Jesus Christ, Himself, fasted before He started his world-saving mission. And remember, Christ famously said that certain “demons” could be overcome only by “prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29).
And if Christ said it, you can be sure it’s true.
By giving up, say, all food and drink except water for twenty-four hours, or by giving up coffee for 72 hours, or by giving up music for a whole week, or by fasting from anything you truly like doing for a specific period of time, you’re tapping spiritual dynamite. Fasting is literally power from Heaven.
Listen, how in the world can you hope to follow the moral teachings of Jesus Christ in this secular, hedonistic, morally upside-down age without ever getting spiritual nourishment from Jesus Christ? And how can you even think of mustering enough courage to take part in the great spiritual-culture war that’s raging all around us when you don’t even have the most rudimentary spiritual weapons at your disposal? It’s like trying to defeat an enemy with both hands tied behind your back. To quote G.K. Chesterton, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”
Most of us are slaves and don’t even know it. We have chains attached to our souls and don’t even know it. We’re slaves to our bodies, our passions, our habits, our compulsions, our addictions, our sins, our hunger for worldly things. We’ve been slaves for so long that our chains seem natural to us. They’re no longer even repugnant, as they should be. And yet, until we break free of them, we can never attain true peace and happiness in this life.
Fasting helps break those chains. Why not give it a serious try? This week, pick something you love and give it up for a couple of days. Then next week pick something else. Every week for at least a month try to fast from something different.
Then watch those chains literally melt away, and watch yourself finally take control of your life—fast!
Looking For More Help With Fasting?
Happiness. Everyone wants it, but not everyone has it–or knows how to get it. According to a recent Harris poll, only 1 in 3 Americans describes himself as happy. Researchers have dubbed this the “most stressed” of all generations, despite its economic prosperity and technological advances. Anthony DeStefano, bestselling author of A Travel Guide to Heaven and Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To, addresses this problem head-on in his freshly rewritten book, 30 Days to Your New Life, by striving to bring the joy of Heaven down to Earth right now.
Many self-help books explore the subject of happiness, but one important ingredient always seems to be missing: God. In this no-nonsense, refreshingly direct book, DeStefano bridges the gap between personal development programs and Christian/Catholic spirituality. The result is a wake-up call to readers; an outcome-based motivational guide to living life to its fullest–and holiest. DeStefano’s practical, pull-no-punches, approach to popular theology has been described as “Tony Robbins meets Thomas Aquinas.”
With candor and simplicity, DeStefano presents an easy-to-follow framework for attaining lifelong peace and fulfillment, as well as (more importantly) eternal happiness in Heaven. The path proposed by DeStefano encourages consistent, purposeful and prayerful action on the part of the reader, and offers genuine hope to everyone, from ambivalent agnostics to engaged evangelicals to the most fervent of Catholics.
This is a book about getting results, about breaking out of self-delusion and taking small, practical steps to transform your life from head to soul. The author believes that as more and more people today struggle with depression and loneliness, self-help programs need to be less about “self-help” and more about “God’s help.” God, after all, is the Author of life. He knows what will make us happy–and what won’t.