One more thing about partial fasting during Lent: Sundays don’t count! Sundays are “feast days,” which means you don’t practice your fast on Sundays. (Lent is actually 46 days long: 40 days of fasting and 6 Sundays of feasting!) Practicing a feast day helps make our Lenten fasts sustainable.
Think about a whole fast, too
In addition to a partial fast, you may also consider embracing a whole fast. A whole fast is not abstaining from food for all of Lent, but rather the practice of skipping entire meals (and snacks) for a specific amount of time. During a whole fast, you can continue to drink water or some other non-substantial liquid, like chicken broth.
(We don’t recommend fruit juices when you’re on a whole fast, as their sugar content is typically very high!)
It should be pointed out that a whole fast isn’t for everyone. Small children, the elderly, pregnant or nursing mothers, and those with relevant health issues should not attempt a whole fast. If you’re concerned about fasting, talk with a medical professional about it before trying it.
But if you decide to try a whole fast during Lent, consider starting with a 24-hour fast once a week. Traditional days for Christians to fast are Wednesdays (to commemorate Jesus’ betrayal) and Fridays (to commemorate Jesus’ crucifixion). Here’s how to do it:
- Have a light dinner the night before, and don’t eat anything more before bed.
- Then skip breakfast and lunch the next day, breaking your fast at dinnertime that evening.
Other traditional days to practice a whole fast are Ash Wednesday and some people will fast all the way from Maundy Thursday to Holy Saturday, breaking their 3-day fast on Easter morning.
Experimenting how to fast for lent in grace
However you decide to fast during Lent, approach it as an experiment in grace. The point is to create space in our souls to feast on the presence of Jesus in our midst. So celebrate the gospel as you fast, and look for God’s grace to meet you.
Finally, two resources for those who want to learn more on how to fast for lent:
- For more on fasting, check out Scot McKnight’s book Fasting.
- For more about Lent, check out Aaron Damiani’s book The Good of Giving Up: Discovering the Freedom of Lent.
- For a good introduction to Lent, check out Lent: The Journey from Ash Wednesday through Holy Week, by Greg Goebel and Joshua Steele.
This article on How To Fast for Lent originally appeared here.