Why do Christians fast for Lent?

A major religious observance is happening, and many of us probably never noticed.

Lent is the six-week period leading up to Easter. If you’re not familiar with what Lent is, you’re not alone. A nationwide study found that only about 17 percent of Americans practice the tradition of giving something up for Lent, and the younger someone is, the less likely they are to know what Lent is. Only 57 percent of Millennials — those born between 1984 and 2002 — are aware of Lent, according to the Barna Group.

Christians have celebrated Lent for nearly 2,000 years as a way to commemorate Jesus’s death and burial before celebrating His resurrection. One of the main ways people celebrate Lent is through fasting, the practice of abstaining from something you enjoy for a set amount of time.

Why Not to Fast

Fasting is not something we do to make God love us more. No action or attitude can change the depth of Jesus’s love for us, so we shouldn’t try to use spiritual disciplines to gain God’s approval. Neither should we use fasting to gain other people’s approval. God wants our commitment to Him. He doesn’t want an intimate spiritual practice like fasting to become an external show of religious pride (Matthew 6:17-18).

Three Reasons to Fast

The Bible mentions fasting throughout the Old and New Testaments. Jesus fasted for 40 days (Matthew 4:1-4). Nehemiah fasted when he asked for God’s forgiveness and direction (Nehemiah 1:4). Daniel, Ezra, Moses, the people of Israel, the early Church, and many more fasted (Daniel 9:3, Ezra 8:23, Exodus 24:38, Judges 20:26, Acts 13:2-3).

Fasting helps us practice saying “no” to our desires and saying “yes” to Jesus.

Looking at the Bible’s examples, here are three good reasons to start a fast:

1. To Connect with God

In the Bible, fasting is a way to grow a deeper connection with God. It’s a way we show our submission to Jesus and repent for things we’ve done (Joel 2:12-13). Fasting is almost always paired with praying because when we give something up for a set time, we can exchange the time spent preparing a meal and eating with time spent talking and listening to Jesus.

2. To Focus on God

Fasting is about remembering that God comes first in our lives. It helps us practice saying “no” to our desires and saying “yes” to Jesus. When we give something up for Lent, we are more focused on God than things that may distract us. Rather than focusing on a craving for food, we should hunger and thirst for what's good and true (Matthew 5:6).

3. To Depend on God

Fasting is an opportunity to place complete dependence on God. We have the luxuries of running water, easy access to food, and so much more. We can intentionally step away from something we regularly enjoy to remind ourselves that Jesus provides for all our needs. God is a generous God, and fasting is one way to remember how good He is to us (Philippians 4:19).

Jesus gave Himself to save us from our sin. We can give up a luxury for a set time to remember God’s goodness to us. As we near Easter, let’s remember to set our focus on Jesus and let go of everything that distracts us from Him.

Related Content

to Discover More

Article

10 promises for Easter

resurrection promises easter

Without Easter, the Bible would be useless. Our whole faith and the power behind everything we believe and te... read more

Read Article

Article

This Easter, invest in the one thing that will last

evangelism fear easter inviting

What do you imagine when you think of Easter?  I tend to think of pastel baskets, dyed eggs, chocolate ... read more

Read Article

Article

Three tips for celebrating Easter with your kids

children parenting easter

Easter is the most important holiday for parents to celebrate with their kids. While chocolate bunnies a... read more

Read Article

Article

Who would Jesus vote for?

obedience hope jesus prayer politics

On Election Day across America, many of us wonder: What would Jesus do? Many politicians act like they speak... read more

Read Article

Article

One reality about Easter that is true of every miracle

salvation miracles easter

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t hearing about the miraculous things Jesus did while on eart... read more

Read Article

Article

Everything you need to know about Holy Week

resurrection easter

In 2016, Apple gave us its greatest contribution to photograph yet: portrait mode. They should have named it ... read more

Read Article

Sermon

Tetelestai

From Tetelestai

April 22, 2019

resurrection salvation easter shame

At the cross, Jesus shut down the “power system” of sin, shame, self, and Satan. In this message,... read more

Watch Sermon

Sermon

Fast to Feast

From First

Jan 21, 2019

prayer fasting following jesus

Everyone wants more of God. The ancient practice of fasting is an unfamiliar discipline for many, but it is a... read more

Watch Sermon

Sermon Series

First

Jan 13, 2019 - Jan 27, 2019

discipline prayer fasting following jesus

What's the bottom line? It's a question we often find ourselves asking. In this series, we'll exp... read more

Read Sermon Series

Story

My son's healing was a miracle for our marriage

March 30, 2018

marriage miracles prayer unity

Cassie and Rick Littlejohn were on the brink of separation. Their newborn’s struggle for life held a hi... read more

Read Story

Story

The prayer for a miracle to save our baby son

Dec 27, 2016

healing miracles prayer health parenting

Cassie and Rick Littlejohn's son clung to life in the NICU. Press play to hear how God's hope arrived... read more

Read Story

Article

10 ways to refresh your spirit every day

prayer friendship busyness thankfulness

1. Be slow What would it look like to live your life at half-speed? When you’re flying down the highway,... read more

Read Article

What's happening at NewSpring Church?

  • Need to Know: Weekly email to keep you informed about what's happening at NewSpring
  • Fuse News: Email for Fuse parents sent on the first Monday of the month
  • KidSpring Scoop: Email sent at the beginning of each series to give you the scoop on what's happening in KidSpring
  • Read My Bible: Daily devotional sent via text from 6-7am

Subscribe