More Thoughts on Fasting


Abba John the Dwarf said, ‘If a king wanted to take possession of his enemy’s city, he would begin by cutting off the water and the food and so his enemies, dying of hunger, would submit to him.  It is the same with the passions of the flesh: if a man goes about fasting and hungry the enemies of his soul grow weak.

 —sayings of the Desert Fathers

The old man makes a really good practical argument for fasting. We seldom think of self-denial in our world, because it is so contrary to our culture. When put in a wartime context it makes good sense. To have as your goal to starve your adversary into submission is a plausible plan. The real challenge is how do we apply this to our lives? I would venture to say that if you fasted once a week and turned your hunger into prayer, you would feel closer to God and more distant from the world. John is saying that a man who is fasting has little time for temptation, but he who is full has energy and desire for sin. This may be a way that you can turn your attention away from some of the less desirable aspects of your life

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Filed under Ascetics, Desert Fathers, Fasting

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